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Workfirst Program: Community Works

Contact: Molly Onkka
Department of Commerce
P.O. Box 42525
Olympia, Washington 98504-2525
Telephone: (360) 725-4147
E-mail: molly.onkka@commerce.wa.gov

Website: www.commerce.wa.gov/workfirst

Participation: The Community Works Program expects to serve approximately 1,374 participants between July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015.

Who is Served: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients.

Program Description: The Community Works program provides long-term (up to 12 months) of unpaid work experience to TANF participants who are transitioning between activities, needing a beginning level of activity, or are needing additional support for re-training to be competitive in the labor market. Community Works also supports participants in educational pathways. When a participant is enrolled in an educational pathway, the work experience program is structured to provide core activity that will assist the participant obtain the specific skills, training, knowledge, and experience necessary to obtain employment in their chosen career field. Commerce’s local CBOs place participants in unpaid positions with local nonprofit organizations and public agencies to gain work experience and job skills.

Program History: Since the implementation of WorkFirst in 1997, the state has provided services to help participants search for jobs and enter the labor market. Most have been successful; however, some people need additional assistance to secure permanent employment. The Community Works Program was created to provide an opportunity for participants to gain additional job skills.

Outcome Measures: Participant engagement, skill obtainment, and success in meeting individuals’ goals.

Funding and Regional Division: The Department of Commerce contracts with 21 community-based organizations located throughout Washington to provide service delivery.

State Funding: None.

Federal Funding: $2,721,176 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015)

Statutory Authority: The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005

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