Choices Guide – B-100: Choices Services

B-101: Choices Service Delivery Flowchart

(Revision 10/2016)

The following flowchart is provided as a guide for the delivery of Choices services.

Choices Service Delivery Flowchart  PDF

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B-102: Workforce Orientation for Applicants and Conditional Applicants

(Revision 10/2016)

Local Workforce Development Boards (Boards) must ensure a Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) is offered frequently enough to allow applicants and conditional applicants to comply with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) requirement to attend a WOA as a condition of eligibility. Conditional applicants have 40 days from the date of referral to demonstrate cooperation by attending a WOA and participating in allowable Choices activities for four consecutive weeks.

Boards must ensure that a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicant is not prevented from attending a WOA based on the applicant’s interview date. If the TANF applicant has a pending TANF application and needs to attend a WOA to complete the application process, Boards must ensure that the TANF applicant is allowed to attend the WOA.

Note:  The four consecutive weeks are not limited to a program or calendar month.

B-102.a: Goal of the WOA

The goal of the Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) is to provide information to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants to enable them to make the best decisions for their families and the best use of their time-limited TANF benefits. The WOA is used to generate interest in workforce services and to inform applicants of the options and tools available to facilitate their entry into the workforce. WOAs are offered to help TANF applicants understand the following:

The benefits and advantages of becoming employed

The WOA might be the only time an exempt customer will be in a Workforce Solutions Office—therefore, Boards must ensure WOAs emphasize that services are provided for exempt Choices participants as well as mandatory Choices participants. Boards also must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff markets services to exempt participants at WOAs by making services attractive and emphasizing the positive life changes that come with employment.

B-102.b: Information Provided During a WOA

Boards must ensure that the Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) includes the following:

Boards also must ensure that, during the WOA, TANF applicants are provided information on Choices services, including the following:

To allow TANF applicants immediate access to employment planning, job referrals and local employers that may be hiring, it is recommended that Boards:

Boards may use automated programs with WOA information only as a supplement to a live WOA presentation by Workforce Solutions Office staff. While automated programs provide a consistent message to all TANF applicants, it is personal interactions with Workforce Solutions Office staff that most assist a TANF applicant in achieving self-sufficiency. 

B-102.c: Services Available to TANF Applicants

Boards must ensure that Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOAs) offer Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants the opportunity to take advantage of available workforce services prior to certification of their TANF applications.

During the WOA, Boards are encouraged to deliver the primary message that work pays more than TANF.  To illustrate this message, wage and benefit scenario charts, which are updated annually, are available on the Intranet under Featured Links

Boards must be aware of the following:

TANF applicants who are referred to a WOA and locate employment or have increased earnings after the WOA—but before their TANF application is certified—may be eligible for TANF Applicant child care, transportation and other work-related expenses. To be eligible for TANF Applicant child care, a TANF applicant must do the following:

Early Engagement

TANF applicants can choose to begin participation immediately following the WOA. As there are no participation requirements for TANF applicants until they become TANF recipients, Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff does not request sanctions for individuals who do not use Workforce Solutions Office services after attending a WOA and before certification of their TANF applications.

Early engagement in Choices plays a key role in gaining employment and becoming self-sufficient. Early engagement at a WOA:

Boards must be aware of the following:

B-102.d: Alternative WOA

If extraordinary circumstances prevent a TANF applicant or conditional applicant from attending a regularly scheduled WOA, Boards must ensure that an alternative WOA is provided. Extraordinary circumstances may include the following:

Boards must ensure that, if requested by a TANF applicant, an alternative WOA is provided within the time frame in which the TANF application is being processed.

Alternative WOA arrangements can include the following:

If an alternative WOA is not provided during the TANF application time frame, Boards must ensure that the applicant is provided a statement that the TANF applicant attempted to obtain an alternative WOA, which will serve to satisfy the applicant’s WOA requirement.

B-102.e: Workforce Solutions Office Staff Responsibilities

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff conducting the WOA:

Note:  Time frames for the return of Form H2588 are important because HHSC must verify attendance to complete an individual’s eligibility determination.

B-102.f: WOA TWIST Instructions

Boards may choose to:

Boards may require that Workforce Solutions Office staff uses TWIST Scheduler to:

Boards must ensure that:

For specific information on using TWIST Scheduler, refer to the Guide to Using TWIST, located under the help menu in TWIST

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B-103: One-Time TANF

(Revision 1/2017)

One Time-Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (OTTANF) is a lump sum grant of $1,000 offered through Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)HHSC determines eligibility for and certifies OTTANF. The intent of OTTANF is to help TANF applicants experiencing short-term crises by providing upfront financial assistance along with exposure to the services offered by Workforce Solutions Offices. Boards must ensure that, during the Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants are informed of the availability of OTTANF and directed to HHSC for more information regarding OTTANF eligibility criteria.

TANF applicants who are in the OTTANF application process and those that receive OTTANF are not eligible to participate in Choices or receive TANF assistance for the 12 months following receipt of OTTANF.

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B-104: Outreach

(Revision 10/2016)

Individuals can receive Choices services through several entry points, including the following:

Boards must ensure that a process is in place at Workforce Solutions Offices to provide Choices services to eligible individuals who inquire about or request employment services.

Boards must ensure that Choices eligibles are outreached and notified of the requirement to participate in Choices services.

Boards must ensure that all outreach communication contain the following information:

Note:  Generating an outreach letter in TWIST will automatically add a notation in Counselor Notes indicating the date the letter was generated, the date and time of the scheduled appointment and the reason for outreach. Voice mail is not an acceptable form of outreach.

If TWIST Scheduler is not used to generate the outreach letter, Workforce Solutions Office staff must manually add a notation in Counselor Notes indicating the date the letter was sent, the date and time of the scheduled appointment, the reason for outreach and the consequences of nonattendance for mandatory individuals.

B-104.b: Notice to Attend Employment Planning Sessions

It is recommended that Boards ensure that when Workforce Solutions Office staff members complete the WOA, they give applicants and conditional applicants a notice to attend an EPS. An EPS is an entry point for mandatory recipients and exempt recipients who voluntarily participate in Choices services. The EPS is the first step in assessment and development of the Family Employment Plan (FEP) and sets the tone for participation in Choices activities and provides more details about the following:

B-104.c: Automated Outreach

The most common method of outreach is through TWIST. Workforce Solutions Office staff uses TWIST to:

Workforce Solutions Office staff can also use automated outreach for a specific population by targeting individuals who:

B-104.d: Outreach Results

The most common outreach results include the following:

It is recommended that Boards require outreach results to be documented on each roster in TWIST Scheduler.

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