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Workfirst: Employment Services

Employment Security Department

Telephone: (360) 902-9500

State Website: www.workfirst.wa.gov

Participation: 9,734 were served by the Employment Security Department’s WorkFirst Program-Employment Services between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

Who is Served: Recipients of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are eligible for Washington’s WorkFirst program.

Program Description: Employment Security Department (ESD) is the WorkFirst partner responsible for providing intensive employment services (Job Search) to WorkFirst job seekers. These services are provided through local WorkSource offices and some Community Services Offices. ESD also provides contracted employment services to Limited English Proficient (LEP) parents in Eastern Washington. What separates WorkFirst employment services from general labor exchange services is the intensive case management, job coaching and in-depth assessment participants receive.

Employment services include:

  • In-depth assessment of work skills and education.
  • Intensive one-on-one case management, employment counseling and job coaching.
  • Employment assets workshops (resume completion, interviewing, master application completion).
  • Quality job matches and job referrals.
  • Job development and On-the-Job Training opportunities.
  • Ongoing job retention and wage progression career planning services (Workers and Careers Program).

Note: Participants are required to participate as outlined on their Individual Responsibility Plan established by the Department of Social and Health Services.

Program Reporting Requirements: States face federal restrictions on the types of activities that can count towards participation. ESD, as a WorkFirst partner, is required to document and report participation to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) in activities it directly provides to participants engaged in employment services.

Other Program Characteristics: In response to the Governor’s charge to redesign employment services for WorkFirst participants, ESD implemented a new model called Career Scope in July 2011. Career Scope is a four-phased employment-readiness and career development program designed to move WorkFirst jobseekers beyond getting a job to building sustainable income leading to long-term self-sufficiency over time.Career Scope shifts away from a one-size-fits-all (transactional) approach to an individualized (transformational) approach focused on meeting jobseekers where they are and tailoring services to meet their individual work search needs. Career Scope is built on the Engaging & Motivating Customers method and engages jobseekers more fully in their work readiness process and ultimate employment success.

Program History: WorkFirst went into effect in 1997 after the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act repealed and consolidated the Aid to Families With Dependent Children, Job Opportunities and Basic Skills, and Emergency Assistance programs into TANF. Underlying the WorkFirst philosophy is the expectation that everyone who is able to work should be working, preparing for work, or looking for work.

Planning Cycle: Annual. 

Outcome Measures: Federal, state, and agency measures include:

• Entered employment rate.

• Wages at employment.

• Time returning to work after receiving a service.

Funding and Regional Division: ESD’s WorkFirst Services are distributed to four ESD regional directors to provide program services through local WorkSource centers, ESD affiliate sites, or DSHS offices.

State Expenditures: None.

Federal Expenditures: $11,514,903 (July 1, 2016- June 30, 2017)

Statutory Authority: The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Major portions of the Act are administered by DSHS, including TANF and the WorkFirst program.

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