9.4 Tribal Participation

Legal References:

The Tribal Participation section includes:

  • 9.4.1 What is Tribal Participation?
  • 9.4.2 Local Plans
  • 9.4.3 Tribal Participation Activities
  • 9.4.4 Other Tribal Resources
  • 9.4.5 Coordination
  • 9.4.6 Tribal Representatives
  • 9.4.7 Tribal participation - Step-by-Step Guide

9.4.1 What is Tribal Participation?

We developed the tribal participation policy in consultation with tribal representatives to ensure that tribal members have broad access to, and are participating in, the most effective activities to help them move forward into employment and beyond. We entered into this process in accordance with the Centennial Accord of 1989 and DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01

Tribal participation policy requires each local area to contact each tribe in their catchment area to discuss how participation will be handled for tribal members - with regional oversight to ensure this occurs. Each tribe should decide whether it wants to:

  • Negotiate specific activities and services that best fit the needs of their tribal members.
  • Commit these agreements to writing; and/or
  • Decide upon a process to review and update participation agreements.

The WorkFirst tribal participation policy recognizes:

  • We must work closely with the tribes, and respect our government-to-government relationship, to develop effective policy and program services.
  • Tribes are in a unique position to provide WorkFirst participation activities that meet the needs of tribal members and other American Indians.
  • The full range of WorkFirst activities and benefits must always be available to tribal members.
  • No Tribal member living on or near a reservation or tribal community will be required to relocate in order to meet work participation requirements.
  • All the WorkFirst advantages and opportunities must be available to tribal members who choose to live in Indian Country.

9.4.2 Local Plans

Tribal participation consists of a menu of activities and services specifically identified by individual tribes as they work with the local areas. All relevant activities may be counted as participation.

The "local area" will vary based on the service area of the tribe and the number of CSOs involved. Other WorkFirst partners, or perhaps the entire LPA, should be included in the discussions depending on respective catchment areas.

There are many American Indians/Alaska Natives who live in urban areas far from their own tribe. When making plans with tribes located by larger cities, you will want to discuss whether urban Indians can access their tribal participation activities. For example, a Yakama Tribal member who lives in Tacoma may be able to participate through the Puyallup participation plan if the Puyallups will serve members of other tribes.

9.4.3 Tribal Participation Activities

Local areas, in consultation with the tribes, can select and refine locally available options. The following activities may be helpful to tribal members and can be approved by a WFPS without a formal written participation agreement between a local area and tribe.

  • Some traditional work such as fishing or berry picking may qualify as employment (coded as FT or PT) if such income meets DSHS' definition of earned income, self-produced income, or self-employment income.
  • DSHS refers American Indian participants to ESD for Career Scope services. It may be appropriate to limit job search to eight hours per week for tribal members living in rural areas with few available jobs.
  • Traditional American Indian activities that perpetuate tribal culture and customs or benefit the tribe can be approved as a type of work experience. This includes:
    • "Subsistence" activities (noncommercial, customary, and traditional harvest of wild, renewable resources for use as food, shelter, fuel, clothing, tools, or transportation).
    • Activities that perpetuate the culture such as teaching or participating in tribal arts and crafts, traditional dance, medicine, herbs, storytelling, assisting tribal elders, and preparing for tribal ceremonies.
  • Tribal-owned businesses and businesses owned by tribal members located on reservations may participate in OJT programs.
  • Customized Job Skills or High Wage High Demand training programs can be created for jobs available in Indian Country, like casino training.
  • Tribal governments, businesses, and organizations may serve as host agencies for a Community Job.

9.4.4 Other Tribal Resources

Tribal governments may have other services available in their area that can be added to the list of local tribal participation options and help tribal members move forward including:

  • Tribal Employment Rights Offices that provide job listings/tribal preference hiring on/near the reservation.
  • Services to resolve crisis situations or other issues (X codes) that interfere with employment, such as health care, family planning, and drug/alcohol assessment and treatment.
  • Programs such as Native Employment Works (NEW) and tribal college or contracted training programs.

9.4.5 Coordination

Local areas and tribes need to discuss and decide on how information will be communicated between the tribe and the CSO so the WFPS knows:

  • What activities a tribal member is engaged in; and
  • Whether s/he is participating as required.

The local arrangement must include details about how the WFPS will be notified and kept informed, as well as how information will generally flow between state and tribal workers. This will ensure that clients have access to the services they need and that they are fully engaged in the activities that will help them move into employment.

9.4.6 Tribal Representatives

WFPS and WFSSSs will encourage all American Indian participants to sign a release of information form (the DSHS 14-012 Consent Form ) so that state and tribal staff can share client information. With a signed release, tribal representatives can be involved in:

Even without a signed release, American Indian participants should be encouraged to invite tribal representatives to these events.

9.4.7 Tribal participation - Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Get a signed release of information so you can coordinate and discuss case specifics with tribal representatives.
  2. Create local agreements to plan local participation activities and communicate participation progress.
  3. Refer participants to locally developed tribal participation activities, like work experience activities that perpetuate tribal culture or customs or benefit the tribe.