5.1 Pregnancy to Employment

Revised October 19, 2017

(Infant Exemption)

Legal References:

The Pregnancy to Employment section includes:

  • 5.1.1 What is Pregnancy to Employment?
  • 5.1.2 Who must participate in Pregnancy to Employment?
  • 5.1.3 What is a Pregnancy to Employment full comprehensive assessment?
  • 5.1.4 What is a partial Pregnancy to Employment assessment?
  • 5.1.5 When to conduct a full vs. a partial Pregnancy to Employment assessment?
  • 5.1.6 What additional assessments are required?
  • 5.1.7 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they enter Pregnancy to Employment?
  • 5.1.8 What are the participation requirements during the first and second trimester?
  • 5.1.9 What are the participation requirements during the third trimester?
  • 5.1.10 What are the participation requirements after the child is born?
  • 5.1.11 What is the "infant exemption" and "infant exemption extension"?
  • 5.1.12 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they choose to claim the infant exemption or infant exemption extension?
  • 5.1.13 What is the "12-week postpartum exemption period"?
  • 5.1.14 How is the participant identified in eJAS once s/he chooses to claim the "12-week postpartum exemption period"?
  • 5.1.15 What are the Pregnancy to Employment participation options and requirements?
  • 5.1.16 What is WorkFirst Family Literacy?
  • 5.1.17 What is First Steps?
  • 5.1.18 Can a participant in Pregnancy to Employment be sanctioned?
  • 5.1.19 eJAS Codes
  • 5.1.20 Pregnancy to Employment - Step-by-step guide

5.1.1 What is Pregnancy to Employment?

Pregnancy to Employment (P to E) provides a way for participants to:

  • Build a healthy family relationship,
  • Prepare them for engagement in WorkFirst activities while assuring the family's medical and other needs are addressed, and
  • Become self-sufficient.

The goal of P to E is to provide services that allow participants to learn how to work, look for work or prepare for work while still meeting the family's needs. Each participant in P to E must participate in an assessment with the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) to decide which activities best meet the participant's needs. The activities required will depend on:

  • The results of the assessment,
  • Where the participant is in her pregnancy or the age of the child, and
  • Services available in the community.

5.1.2 Who must participate in Pregnancy to Employment?

Every pregnant woman or parent(s) receiving TANF/SFA with a child under the age of two years is a mandatory participant in P to E. In a two-parent household, both parents are participants and must receive an assessment by a WFSSS.

Note:  Schedule an assessment using an ACES General Appointment Letter (50-05), the eJAS appointment letter, or in the IRP.

5.1.3 What is a Pregnancy to Employment full comprehensive assessment?

The full comprehensive assessment helps to identify family needs and determine which WorkFirst services are appropriate, as available within the community. In order to complete a full comprehensive assessment, the WFSSS must discuss and document all issue areas in the eJAS assessment tool.

Based on the results of the full assessment and any other available information (i.e. Children's Administration, Equal Access, medical reports, etc.) the WFSSS or WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) works with the participant to develop an Individual Responsibility Plan (IRP) to participate in activities that:

  • Offer a combination of services that help to resolve the issues and at the same time prepares the participant for work, and
  • Provide a base from which the participant can start building and adding on activities that will help lead to self-sufficiency.

NOTE: Use the DSHS 14-012 Consent to Exchange Information for Services Coordination when exchanging highly protected (special records) information with another service provider.

5.1.4 What is a partial P to E assessment?

A partial assessment includes a minimum requirement to identify if the family's circumstances have changed and the family's needs require the department to address any potential issues such as mental health, chemical dependency, etc.

To fulfill partial assessment minimum requirements, the WFSSS must cover the following:

  • Who is in the household besides the mother and child under two?
  • What type of family support is available?
  • Assess for all of the following:
    • Family Violence.
    • Family Planning.
    • First Steps.
    • Chemical Dependency.
    • Mental Health.
    • Child and adult health needs.
    • Documentation of involvement with WIC, prenatal care provider or pediatrician.
    • Activities the parent can engage in.

5.1.5 When to conduct a full vs. partial P to E assessment?

WorkFirst staff must schedule all P to E assessments within 30 days of the referral.

A participant must complete a full comprehensive assessment when the department first becomes aware they are:

  • Pregnant or
  • Parenting a child under the age of two.

NOTE: Don't require the other parent in a 2-parent household to complete a full assessment or any assessment before the baby is born.

A partial P to E assessment requirement applies to:

  • Both parents when they report the birth of the child, or
  • The parent choosing the infant exemption, infant exemption extension, or 12-week postpartum exemption that doesn't have a full nor partial completed assessment since the birth of the child, or
  • The other parent if added to the grant after the birth of the child.

NOTE: The WFSSS may require a partial assessment at any time if information received indicates there are mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

5.1.6 What additional assessments are required?

If mental health or chemical dependency is identified in the P to E assessment, the WFSSS/WFPS will refer the parent to a professional for an in-depth assessment to support the initial identification.

  • Persons with an identified need for mental health will be referred to a professional for medical corroboratory evidence to determine whether the parent needs mental health services.
  • Persons with an identified need for chemical dependency will be referred to a Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) for a chemical dependency assessment to determine whether the parent needs chemical dependency treatment.

Persons with an identified need for mental health and chemical dependency will be referred to the appropriate professional for more in-depth evaluations.

5.1.7 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they enter Pregnancy to Employment?

PI (Pregnancy/Child under two) is the indicator component code used to identify P to E participants on the Component Screen in eJAS.

The PI indicator code allows staff to track and monitor all of their P to E participants. The PI component is NOT an activity; it is an identifier. Another component, such as GE or XP, should always go with the PI component, unless the parent/caregiver is is not required to participate, or is choosing not to participate, because they are:

  • In their third trimester of pregnancy,
  • Choosing the Infant Exemption or Infant Exemption Extension, or,
  • The non-participating parent in a two-parent household.

WF Staff should enter the PI component with zero hours for a maximum of 21 months. You may want to use the length of the component as a tickler for the pathway milestones.  Note: Staff will need to create a new PI component to capture months more than 21.

For example, a participant reports a pregnancy with an estimated due date. The WFSSS or WFPS may then set the end date of the PI code to coincide with the date the participant will enter the third trimester, the date the baby is due or every three months until the date the baby reaches two years of age.

If there is a future estimated due date on the eJAS Client Demographic screen and no active PI component on the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen, the WFPS or WFSSS will receive a pop-up message notifying a PI component is needed.

5.1.8 What are the participation requirements during the first and second trimester?

In the first and second trimester of pregnancy, participation is based upon the results of the comprehensive assessment and may include work, looking for work or a combination of pregnancy to employment services. A pregnant woman is required to participate full-time during the first two trimesters of pregnancy unless they have a good reason to participate fewer hours.

5.1.9 What are the participation requirements during the third trimester?

The third trimester of pregnancy starts 90 days before the estimated due date.  For example, if the estimated due date is 7/14, the third trimester starts on 4/15.  Please use the Defining 3rd Trimester Tip Sheet to determine the start date of the third trimester.

In the third trimester of pregnancy, participation for the pregnant woman is based upon the results of the full comprehensive assessment and the parent may:

  • Be required to participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or an assessment indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment (unless medical evidence indicates that parent is not able to participate in any activity), or
  • In Parental Education Project pilot sites only, be required to participate up to 20 hours per week in parental education if the comprehensive evaluation or specialized pilot site assessment indicates a need for parental education or parent skills training, or
  • Participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues, or
  • Choose to not participate in WorkFirst activities until delivery date if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

If a mental health or chemical dependency professional indicates that a parent should do more than 20 hours per week of treatment, we should encourage the parent to participate in the number of hours recommended; however, we can only require 20 hours per week of participation. If she refuses to participate in required available treatment, follow the good cause process.  Indicate the appropriate participation status on the "Component/IRP Information Screen" by selecting if the parent is:

  • Required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment;
  • Required to participate in parental education or parent skills training in Parental Education Project pilot sites only;
  • Volunteering to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or
  • Exempt from participating.

Note:  See section 3.6.2.4 before lifting a sanction in the third trimester.

5.1.10 What are the participation requirements after the child is born?

After the child is born, the participant(s) receiving TANF cash assistance:

  • Must, at minimum, complete a partial assessment with a WFSSS to assess the participant(s) needs for continued services when the child is born or prior to choosing the infant exemption, infant exemption extension, or postpartum exemption if no assessment has been completed since the child was born.
  • May choose to take the infant exemption or postpartum exemption and not participate in WorkFirst activities until the child reaches the age of two years (only one parent living in the household can claim this exemption at any given time).
  • May volunteer to fully participate in WorkFirst activities (see WAC 388-310-0300).
  • May choose to take the 12-week postpartum exemption period if the participant used all of their 24-month lifetime infant exemption and infant exemption extension and chooses not to participate in WorkFirst activities until the child reaches 12 weeks of age.
  • Must participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment (unless medical evidence indicates that participant isn't able to participate in any activity).
  • Must participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for parental education or parent skills training in Parental Education Project pilot sites only.

If a participant qualifies for the infant exemption, infant exemption extension, or postpartum exemption, has no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues per the comprehensive evaluation or P to E assessment(s) and chooses to participate in WorkFirst activities the department won't pursue sanction if we learn they are no longer participating as required in their IRP.

Take the following steps when the participant stops participating:

  • Send the Pregnancy to Employment Infant Exemption letter giving the parent 10-day notice that we plan to put them into Infant Exemption or Infant Exemption Extension status.
  • If the participant contacts their worker within the 10 days and wants to continue participating, update the IRP as needed and don't enter the IE or TE component.
  • If the participant doesn't contact you:
    • Close the activity(ies) at the end of the 10-day period, and
    • Enter the infant exemption (IE) for families with a child 0-12 months old, until (whichever comes first):
      • The child's first birthday,
      • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
      • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
    • Enter the infant exemption extension (TE) for families with a child 13-24 months old, until (whichever comes first):
      • The child's second birthday,
      • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
      • 730 days if the total number of days in the IE or TE has exceeded 365.

Staff must also document in eJAS "Pregnancy/Parenting" notes the period of time the participant is taking the infant exemption or infant exemption extension and that they provided the letter.

Note:

If the participant stops participating in required mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment, start the good cause process whether or not the participant is using the IE or TE.  If the participant chose to use their IE or TE and enters sanction, they continue using their exemption. 

If a mental health or chemical dependency professional indicates that a participant should do more than 20 hours per week of treatment, encourage the participant to participate in the number of hours recommended; however, we can only REQUIRE 20 hours per week of participation.

5.1.11 What is the "infant exemption" and "infant exemption extension"?

Participants can choose to be excused from participating in WorkFirst activities during months that they are needed in the home to personally provide care for their child(ren) under two years of age. Participants have a personal responsibility to decide whether to choose the infant exemption or infant exemption extension. The exemption isn’t automatic; participants must choose to claim the exemption.

The infant exemption and infant exemption extension options serve as a safety net to allow parents to be in the home with their child for the early stages of development while still having WorkFirst opportunities available. Encouraging voluntary WorkFirst participation is important since the exemption doesn’t stop the 60-month TANF time limit clock.

When offering either exemption, staff must remind the participant of the benefits of participating in WorkFirst activities, such as:

  • Employment and training opportunities,
  • Enhancement of skills,
  • Support services and childcare.

All rules of the Infant Exemption (IE) apply to the Infant Exemption Extension with the exception of age requirements and the lifetime limit.

  • The Infant Exemption – Exemption from WorkFirst activities for participants with a child under the age of one (0-12 months old).
  • The Infant Exemption Extension – Exemption from WorkFirst activities for participants with a child between the age of one and two (13-24 months old). 
  • Use of the Infant Exemption and/or Infant Exemption Extension can’t exceed 24-months (730 days) in a participant’s lifetime on TANF.
  • The extension of the infant exemption to children under the age of two changes the way we code them in eJAS:
    • IE - Infant Exemption for a child 0-12 months
    • TE - Infant Exemption for a child 13-24 months  
  • Any combination of the IE and TE can be used for up to 24 months (or 730 days), but only one exemption can be used at any given time. If a household has multiple children under the age of two, use the infant exemption or infant exemption extension for the youngest child.

Only the custodial parent(s) can claim the infant exemption or infant exemption extension; needy relatives/caregivers aren’t eligible for this exemption unless they have legally been given parental rights.

Unmarried Parenting minors can choose to take the IE for up to 12 weeks after the birth of the child.  After the 12 weeks, they are subject to the school attendance requirement for unmarried parenting minors. 

Only one participant living in the household with a child under two years old (even if there are two infants/toddlers in the household) can claim the exemption at any given time, for a maximum of 24 months in a lifetime, not to exceed 730 days. (Note:  Participants can use this exemption for one or more children.) Participants choosing to use the infant exemption or infant exemption extension may:

  • Be required to participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment, or
  • Be required to participate up to 20 hours per week if the comprehensive evaluation or assessment indicates a need for parental education or parent skills training in Parental Education Project pilot sites only, or
  • Participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.
  • Choose not to participate in WorkFirst activities for a set period of time or until the child turns two years of age if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues.

Remind the participant that they can only claim the infant exemption/exemption extension for 24 months (730 days) in a lifetime.  Then tell the participant what their required participation will be if they DO claim the infant exemption, and if they do NOT claim the exemption.  This will give the participant the information they need to decide whether or not to claim the exemption.  

Upon 365 days in either exemption (or combination of the two), WorkFirst staff must schedule an Annual Comprehensive Evaluation update appointment for the participant to review their situation and determine if they need any additional services.  WorkFirst staff may require a new Pregnancy to Employment Assessment at this time if deemed necessary. 

Example One: The assessment indicates a need for three hours a week of chemical dependency treatment.  You explain that the treatment is required and if she doesn’t want to claim the exemption she will be required to do an additional 17 hours of another approved activity.  She decides to use the infant exemption.  Code the required treatment hours and infant exemption, and track her treatment participation.  
Example Two: The assessment indicates a need for two hours a week of mental health treatment. Based on her medical evidence, CE and assessment, she is unable to do anything but the mental health treatment for at least the next six months.  You explain that her participation requirement will be the same, whether or not she uses her infant exemption.  She decides she doesn’t want to use her infant exemption.  You code the treatment and track her participation, but don’t code an IE.   
Example Three: Based on the CE and assessment, there are no mental health,  chemical dependency  or other barriers and the parent is working five hours per week. You explain that if she doesn’t use her infant exemption, she will be required to participate in other activities to bring her up to 20 hours per week.  She decides to use her infant exemption and will voluntarily keep working.  You code her infant exemption and her work hours. We can provide support services and child care because her employment increases her self-sufficiency.
Example Four: This is a two-parent household.  Based on the CE, assessment and medical evidence, the father is exempt due to a disability and the mother has no barriers.  You explain that only one parent can claim the exemption, the father won’t be required to participate (whether or not he claims an infant exemption) and the mother will need to participate at least 35 hours per week if she doesn’t claim the infant exemption.  The mother decides to use her infant exemption so she can care for her husband and newborn.  You code the father with an XB and the mother with an IE.
Example Five: Sarah applies in September.  She opts for the infant exemption extension as she has a child age 13 months (TE) and only uses three months of the exemption. She reapplies in June and now has a newborn child.  Sarah wants to opt for the infant exemption for her newborn (IE) even though there are two qualifying children in the home. Once the newborn turns 9 months old, Sarah exhausts 365 days between the Infant Exemption and Infant Exemption Extension.  Her WFPS mails an engagement appointment. Sarah has no mandatory requirements and wants to continue providing care for her infant.  Sarah continues taking the Infant Exemption for her newborn (IE) through his first birthday.  Once he turns one, close the IE component and open the TE component.

 

It is essential to document in the eJAS “Pregnancy/Parenting” note type whether a participant chooses either exemption. If the participant chooses the infant exemption or infant exemption extension, document the period of time the participant is choosing to take it.

The department will contact a participant choosing either exemption who isn’t engaged in any other WorkFirst activities once every three months to:

  • Offer available services and/or referrals.
  • Remind them that they can choose to end the exemption and engage in WorkFirst activities at any time.

The three-month contact may be either by a letter or telephone. (WorkFirst staff must document the contact in eJAS and update the IRP, if necessary.)

5.1.12 How is the participant identified in eJAS once they choose to claim the infant exemption or infant exemption extension?

Component code IE will identify participants who are choosing the infant exemption for a child age 0-12 months and the TE to identify participants who are choosing the infant exemption for a child age 13-24 months. The component codes are:

  • For DSHS staff use only
  • Not able to generate support services
  • ONLY for parents who choose to use their exemption
  • Time limited (not to exceed 24 months)

Don't use this code for any other reason. Using this code for any other reason will make a participant's exemption count inaccurate.

eJAS will track and display the total number of days a participant uses their infant exemption in the "Number of days in IE" field on the Component/Contractor/IRP Update screen.

When opening the IE or TE component, the WFPS or WFSSS will be required to indicate the appropriate participation status for participant's choosing to take the exemption on the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status" field by indicating if the participant is:

  • Required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment;
  • Volunteering to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or
  • Exempt from participating (choosing not to participate in any activities).

Staff will:

  • Use the eJAS component IE to identify the infant exemption period for a child age 0-12 months.
  • Use the eJAS component TE to identify the infant exemption period for a child age 13-24 months.
  • After entering the IE or TE code, select the participation status.
  • Document the period of time a participant wants to take the infant exemption in eJAS notes under the "Pregnancy to Employment" note type.
  • Enter the IE or TE start date as the date the participant notifies the department that s/he wants to claim either infant exemption.
  • Enter the infant exemption (IE) end date for families with a child 0-12 months old, until (whichever comes first):
    • The child’s first birthday,
    • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
    • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
  • Enter the infant exemption extension (TE) end date for families with a child 13-24 months old, until (whichever comes first):
    • The child’s second birthday,
    • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
    • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
  • Use the Caseload Management Report (CLMR) and/or ad hoc report to monitor these cases.
  • Encourage participation in WorkFirst activities during this time-limited opportunity.

Note:

WorkFirst participants may choose to use their infant exemption or infant exemption extension when needed in the home to personally provide care for their child under two years of age whether they are receiving TANF for that child or not.

If the child under two years old isn't on the TANF assistance unit, add the child as a non-member.  ACES will then let eJAS know that the participant has a child under two years old in the home, and eJAS will allow you to code the IE or TE.

5.1.13 What is the 12-week postpartum exemption period?

Participants who have already claimed the infant exemption or infant exemption extension (or a combination of the two) for a maximum of 730 days can request an additional 12-week postpartum exemption period (84 days) if they have another child. This period allows participants to spend time with the newborn before they must participate in WorkFirst activities.

A participant can participate in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis during this period if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues. If a participant qualifies for a postpartum exemption period, has no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues per the P to E assessment(s) and chooses to participate in WorkFirst activities the department will not pursue sanction if we learn that a participant is no longer participating as required in the IRP.

Take the following steps when the participant stops participating:

  • Send the Pregnancy to Employment Infant Exemption letter giving the parent 10-day notice that we plan to put them into the 12-week postpartum exemption period status.
  • If the participant contacts their worker within the 10 days and wants continue participating, update the IRP as needed and don't enter the IE or TE.
  • If the participant doesn't contact you:
    • Close the activity(ies) at the end of the 10-day period, and
    • Enter the postpartum exemption period (PD) until the child turns 12 weeks of age (not to exceed 84 days).

Staff must also document in eJAS "Pregnancy/Parenting" notes the period of time the participant is taking the PD and that the letter was provided.

If the comprehensive evaluation or other assessment(s) indicates a need for mental health and/or alcohol or drug treatment the participant must participate up to 20 hours per week.

A participant may choose to not participate in WorkFirst activities for a set period of time or until the child turns 12-weeks of age if there are no identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues. Only one parent living in the household can claim this 12-week postpartum exemption, not to exceed 84 days, at any given time.

5.1.14 How is the participant identified in eJAS once s/he chooses to claim the 12-week postpartum exemption period?

Component code PD will be used to identify participants who choose to take the 12-week postpartum exemption period. This indicator component code is:

  • For DSHS staff use only.
  • Not able to generate support services.
  • ONLY to be used for participants who have exhausted their infant exemption and infant exemption extension and choose to use their 12-week postpartum exemption period.
  • Time limited (not to exceed 84 days).

When opening the PD component, the WFPS or WFSSS will be required to indicate the appropriate participation status for participant's choosing to take the PD on the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status" field by indicating if the participant is:

  • Required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment;
  • Volunteering to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or
  • Exempt from participating (choosing not to participate in any activities).

Staff will:

  • Use the eJAS component PD to identify the 12-week postpartum exemption period.
  • After entering the PD indicator code, select the participant's participation status.
  • Document the period of time a participant wants to take the 12-week postpartum exemption period in eJAS notes under the "Pregnancy to Employment" note type.
  • Enter the PD start date as the date the participant notifies the department that they wants to claim the 12-week postpartum exemption period and an end date of the elected 12-week postpartum exemption period, not to exceed 84 days.
  • Use the Caseload Management Report (CLMR) and/or ad hoc report to monitor these cases.

Encourage WorkFirst activities as the 12-week postpartum exemption period is limited to 84 days for each child after they have exhausted their infant exemption and infant exemption extension.

5.1.15 What are the Pregnancy to Employment participation options and requirements?

A parent's IRP and activities should reflect a steady progression towards work, looking for work, or preparing for work, as well as having a healthy and thriving child. P to E activities may include linking parents to:

  • Parenting education or parenting skills training
  • Safe and appropriate child care,
  • How to obtain good health care,
  • Life Skills classes with parenting components,
  • Mental health treatment,
  • Chemical dependency treatment,
  • Family violence services,
  • Education and training, or
  • Employment services.

Staff must continue to engage parents in WorkFirst activities that will move them most effectively toward self-sufficiency.

The Pregnancy to Employment Participation and Coding Quick Guide, also located in the Forms & Other Resources section, details participation requirements while the woman is pregnant and after the child is born.

5.1.16 What is WorkFirst Family Literacy?

Known in some locations as Families That Work, WorkFirst Literacy Skills Center, etc. (check your local college or CBO WorkFirst Delivery Agreement (WFDA) for Education and Training). Parents will receive instruction in the basic skills they need to join the workforce, improve their child raising skills, and break family cycles of illiteracy. Parents served by WorkFirst Family Literacy are current WorkFirst recipients.

The goal for WorkFirst Family Literacy parents is an economically stable and literate family, with outcomes that include:

  • Basic literacy and job preparation skills;
  • Work activity for some parents or paid employment for others;
  • Wage and skill progression for working parents;
  • Family management and parenting skills; and
  • Learning success for all children in the family.

Parents participating in WorkFirst Family Literacy programs follow the same model for quantifying participation, as do our participants in other training programs. To calculate participation hours, use the actual hours the parent is in the education and training activities, to include classes, labs, and supervised study halls/tutoring sessions. The college or community based organization will notify the WorkFirst case manager of the appropriate eJAS component code to use.

NOTE: Life Skills training is a countable activity for participation and Parent Education is not, though it may be an appropriate activity for the parent depending on his/her situation.

Parents in the WorkFirst Family Literacy program will be doing a combination of the following types of allowable activities:

  • ABE/ESL taught in the context of work skills that will lead to a job;
  • Family management/parenting skills (time management, fiscal management, communication among family members, the impact of work on family life/child behavior);
  • Age appropriate education for children while the parent is involved in work and education; and,
  • Parent and child activities that help children gain the literacy skills they need to succeed in school.
  • Involvement of the parent in their child's education.

Parents are involved in work activities at the level appropriate to their skills and their IRPs. These can include volunteer experiences, WorkFirst Work-Study, Community Jobs, etc.

  • In addition to Family Literacy funded by WorkFirst, the State Board for Community & Technical Colleges (SBCTC) through the Adult Basic Education Office funds Family Literacy at community colleges in 3 locations across the state. Each provider works with community partners like DSHS WFPS's and WFSSS's, Head Start and ECEAP directors, WorkSource Center staff, and First Steps case managers.

5.1.17 What is First Steps?

The First Steps Program is designed to provide additional health care, enhanced services and case management to Washington Apple Health eligible women and infants. This program seeks to reduce maternal and infant illness and death, as well as increase access to maternity and infant care for low-income families.

First Steps services include, but are not limited to:

  • Prenatal Health Care
  • WIC
  • Pediatric Care
  • Family Planning
  • Childbirth Education
  • Lactation Consultation
  • WithinReach website (formally Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies)
  • Local community resources specific to individual needs, e.g. Domestic Violence hotline, educational resources, Crisis Clinic, mental health resources, car seats, food bank, CPR training resources, childcare, transportation, interpreter services, disability services, and the Tobacco quit line
  • Referral for Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA) services

The WFSSS should provide all pregnant women with information regarding the services available through the First Steps program as follows:

  • If a pregnant woman reports she is not active on Washington Apple Health (WAH) Medicaid, refer to www.wahealthplanfinder.org to apply for pregnancy medical. The Health Care Authority (HCA) will generate a monthly list for Fist Steps providers capturing all newly identified pregnant women on Medicaid.
  • If a woman already has health insurance and reports she is pregnant, let her know she can access First Steps by contacting the Within Reach Family Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

For additional information about the First Steps program visit the Social Services Manual by clicking here.

5.1.18 Can a participant in Pregnancy to Employment be sanctioned?

Participants in P to E may enter sanction for:

  • Refusing to participate in an assessment with the WFSSS to identify family needs and determine what WorkFirst services are appropriate, or
  • Not participating in other WorkFirst activities. (See 3.6.1 Sanction)

When a parent enters sanction for refusing to complete an assessment and they didn't choose the infant exemption or infant exemption extension, do not code the IE or TE with the sanction. 

When a participant enters sanction for refusing to complete an assessment, and then completes an assessment:

  • Lift the sanction the first of the following month, if not required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment, and if choosing the infant exemption or infant exemption extension;
  • Leave the participant in sanction until they participate for 4 consecutive weeks, if the assessment requires participation in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment; or
  • Continue the sanction until they participate for 4 consecutive weeks, if not choosing either exemption.

Note:  When the parent is at the end of their exemption period and you schedule a next steps appointment, you can't sanction the parent for not attending the appointment during the parent’s exemption period. 

5.1.19 eJAS codes

The following eJAS codes are commonly used for WorkFirst individuals engaged in P to E:

  • RO is used to refer cases to the WFSSS and to require mental health assessments
  • PI (pregnancy/child under two) is an indicator for all participating in P to E
  • PD (postpartum exemption period) is an indicator to identify participants using the 12-week postpartum exemption period
  • IE (infant exemption) is an indicator to identify participants using their infant exemption for a child under the age of one
  • TE (toddler exemption) is an indicator to identify participants using their infant exemption extension for a child between one and two years old
  • XP is used for actual hours each week spent learning parenting skills, taking nutrition classes, choosing child care
  • XC is used for actual hours each week that no appropriate child care is available – or no appropriate care for an incapacitated adult

In addition to the PI identifier code, indicate the WorkFirst participation by using the appropriate eJAS codes on the component code screen as needed, to the actual hours of time spent in activities (such as XF for family violence resolution or JS for job search). It is important for tracking program progress to show the different components the participant is in.

5.1.20 Pregnancy to Employment - Step-by-step guide

  1. The WFPS:
    1. Completes the Comprehensive Evaluation and chooses the appropriate pathway(s):
      • Issue Resolution pathway if a P to E assessment is required,
      • 3rd trimester of pregnancy Deferral pathway if she is in her 3rd trimester,
      • Infant Exemption pathway if the participant has a child  under the age of one (0-12 months old), or
      • Infant Exemption Extension if the parent has a child between one and two years old (13-24 months).

Note: The Infant Exemption and Infant Exemption Extension (or a combination of the two) can't be used for more than 730 days in a participant's lifetime on TANF.

  1. Refers all pregnant women and parents of children age two and younger to a WFSSS for an assessment using the appropriate eJAS codes:
    1. RO for a P to E assessment when:
      1. The department becomes aware a woman is pregnant or parenting a child under the age of two.
      2. The participant chooses the Infant Exemption or Infant Exemption Extension and hasn't completed an assessment since the child's birth.
    2. PI indicator to identify the participant in P to E. (Enter eJAS notes in the Pregnancy/Parenting category prior to entering the PI code indicating the parent is a Pregnancy to Employment participant).

NOTE: On the Customer Accountability Report (CAR), participants in stand-alone PI will display in Participation Not Required (State Only) section. However, participants coded PI with other components will display in the section of the report determined appropriate based on their level of participation. For example, a participant is coded PI and 20 hours per week in PT. The participant will show in section 6 - Participation Below Full Time at WorkFirst Standard.

  1. The WFSSS:
    1. Completes a full or partial assessment, using the eJAS assessment or the DSHS 14-433(X), Intensive Services Assessment. WFSSSs may also draw upon assessments from other agencies. However, if the eJAS assessment is not used and the DSHS 14-433(X), or another assessment form is used, all the same eJAS assessment topics should be covered and documented in eJAS. The WFSSS should assess all areas relevant to the participant and review any other available information.
    2. Uses the assessment to identify the participant's strengths, barriers, issues and needs. Also the assessment needs to identify what activities a participant is able to do and the maximum number of participation hours including stacking activities so they participate to the fullest of their abilities. The WFSSS makes decisions about which cases have barriers or issues that could benefit from continuing case management by the WFSSS until those issues are resolved. Other cases may be referred back to the WFPS for case management.
    3. Makes appropriate referrals, based on the assessment and the completed CE.
    4. Works with the WFPS, participant and other service providers (as appropriate) to build an IRP as required that addresses the participant's and child's needs as identified in the full or partial assessment or comprehensive evaluation.
    5. Enters (if not already entered) the PI code on the eJAS Component Screen with the accompanying component when required.
  2. Either the WFSSS or WFPS - whomever is case managing the case:
    1. Updates the IRP if participating in WorkFirst activities,
    2. Monitors/reviews on a monthly basis for attendance and progress if participating in WorkFirst activities,
    3. Doesn't pursue sanction if the participant is no longer participating as required in the IRP if they qualify for an IE, TE or PD, don't have identified mental health and/or chemical dependency issues per the P to E assessment(s) and chooses to participate in WorkFirst activities. The following steps will be taken when the participant stops participating:
      • Send the Pregnancy to Employment Infant Exemption letter giving the participant 10-day notice that we plan to put them into Infant Exemption status.
      • Update the IRP as needed and don't enter the IE or TE if the participant contacts their worker within the 10 days and wants to continue participating.
      • Close the activity(ies) at the end of the 10-day period, and enter the infant exemption (IE for a child 0-12 months or TE for a child 13-24 months) if the parent doesn't contact you, until:
        • The child's first or second birthday,
        • 365 days (including a combination of IE and TE), or
        • 730 days if the total number of days in IE or TE has exceeded 365.
    4. After entering the IE or TE code, enter the appropriate participation status in the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status" field.
    5. If taking either exemption and not required to participate in mental health and/or chemical dependency treatment, makes follow-up contact (via office interview, phone, letter or home visit) with the participant at least every three months to re-evaluate the participant's/child's needs to ensure that they are receiving the services they need.
    6. At each 3-month contact, the assigned worker will offer services, resources, and remind the participant that s/he can choose to end the exemption and fully participate in the WorkFirst program.
      • If the participant chooses to end their exemption, update the IRP to reflect any changes in their activity ensuring the IRP and activity reflect a steady progression towards work, looking for work, or preparing for work.
    7. If taking the postpartum exemption period, enter the PD code for the time the participant is choosing to claim this exemption up to 12 weeks.
    8. After entering the PD code, enter the appropriate participation status in the "Pregnancy to Employment Participation Status Required" field.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

Forms & Other Resources