6.1 Overview

Created on: 
Feb 16 2017

Revised on: September 20, 2021

The Resolving Issues Overview section includes:

  • 6.1.1 What is resolving issues?
  • 6.1.2 When do we resolve issues?
  • 6.1.3 What are the principles for resolving issues?
  • 6.1.4 What is the role of the WorkFirst Program Specialist?
  • 6.1.5 What is the role of the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist?

6.1.1 What is resolving issues?

Resolving issues begins with identifying barriers that can interfere with a person's ability to look for work or work or participate in other WorkFirst activities. When issues are identified, we can provide necessary supports to help the participant engage in activities that will lead to employment.

Many WorkFirst participants will need to resolve some issues to succeed in WorkFirst. People come to us without basic supports or perhaps, not much experience in being a working participant. And, although we may not even think of authorizing child care or making a family planning referral as "resolving issues" -- it is.

Many participants come to us with more serious concerns that will take longer to resolve, like disabilities or family violence. It is important to start working through these problems as quickly as possible - and add other activities as soon as participants are able - so they can start building on their strengths while eliminating some negatives.

Last, some participants face issues so severe, that it is unlikely they will be able to enter the job market. WorkFirst Social Service Specialists (WFSSSs) may need to work intensively with these participants, perhaps helping them apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

6.1.2 When do we resolve issues?

We look for issues that may need to be resolved at:

  • Application.
  • Comprehensive evaluation.
  • Eligibility reviews.
  • Assessment.
  • Anytime upon the participant's request.

If issues are identified when a participant starts working or participating in WorkFirst activities, you should work with the individual to resolve these issues.

As shown in the chart below, the level of intervention required to work with issues varies, depending on the type of problem the person faces.

Issue Likely intervention
Lacks basic supports

Likely a shorter-term intervention by the WorkFirst Program Specialist (WFPS) or WorkFirst Social Service Specialist (WFSSS) to:

  • Refer for medical/dental care.
  • Provide child care (WFSSS may help find suitable child care).
  • Provide AREN to find or keep housing or refer for emergency housing.
  • Explore transportation options and provide support services to pay for it.
Lacks expert advice Likely a shorter-term intervention by the WFSSS (that can be combined with looking for work or work) to provide:
  • Prenatal care.
  • Family planning.
  • Parenting classes.
  • Child health/nutrition advice.
  • Legal advice.
Family & health concerns Likely requires a longer-term WFSSS intervention. These situations may need to be stabilized before adding other activities.
  • Caring for a child (or adult) with special needs.
  • Family violence.
  • Substantial physical/mental/learning disabilities.
  • Substance abuse/chemical dependency.

6.1.3 What are the principles for resolving issues?

There are some common themes you see whenever we talk about resolving issues.

Overall principles for resolving issues

Identify and begin to resolve issues as soon as possible to give the participant any additional supports they need to succeed.

The purpose of issue resolution is to help the participant find ways to participate in WorkFirst activities while also assuring the family's medical and other needs are addressed. Employment remains a major focus with economic mobility as the ultimate goal.

Temporary deferments may be necessary and appropriate in some situations. Most participants, however, want to work and may see work as very therapeutic in helping them cope with other concerns.

Finding creative ways for the participant to participate without a temporary deferment is usually the best option. It is often possible to accommodate a family's special needs while at the same time supporting the participant's employment efforts.

Resolving issues, while encouraging employment, can help us increase WorkFirst cash assistance exits, reduce WorkFirst returns, and keep caseloads down.

6.1.4 What is the role of the WorkFirst Program Specialist?

The WFPS is a central player in identifying issues and collaborates with the WFSSS and other service providers to:

  • Determine needs
  • Obtain resources
  • Complete the foundation section of the comprehensive evaluation
  • Develop the IRP with the participant's input, using recommendations from Employment Security's employment plan, and consideration of other relevant information
  • Ensure the participant has adequate child care and transportation and coordinates other services as necessary

6.1.5 What is the role of the WorkFirst Social Service Specialist?

The WFSSS plays a key role in providing screening, assessment, referral services, and has valuable expertise in intensive case management. The WFSSS coordinates services with WorkFirst partners and other service providers as needed. WFSSSs assist in helping participants (such as parenting minors, teen head of households, pregnant, hard to engage, sanctioned, and disabled/incapacitated participants) resolve issues, including:

  • Mental, physical, and learning disabilities
  • Caring for a child with special needs
  • Alcohol or substance abuse/chemical dependency
  • Family violence
  • Homelessness
  • Family planning.
  • Parental Education or support
  • Pregnancy to Employment
  • Child Protective Services

Upon referral the WFSSS:

  • Completes assessment using the Pathway Development Tool (PDT) - see WFHB 3.2.3
  • Provides intervention and support to help the participant address issues that may interfere with their ability to complete the comprehensive evaluation or impede movement toward economic economic mobility
  • Develops a plan for issues identified and make appropriate referrals to specialized services to help resolve these issues
  • Helps the participant resolve issues identified by WorkFirst partners and other service providers
  • Stacks services, if appropriate, to help participants engage in activities that leads to employment
  • Attends case staffings
  • Provides specific, intensive, and time-limited services to participants at risk of losing benefits or services
  • Provides follow-up services, as needed, to keep the person engaged


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