Choices Guide – B-500: Choices Activities

B-501: Choices Activities

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff supervises all Choices work activities daily.

Daily supervision means that case managers are accessible daily for Choices participants to discuss progress and obtain additional guidance; it does not mean daily contact with every Choices participant.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff enters actual daily participation in each appropriate activity into The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST), as set forth in C-200: TWIST Service Codes and Descriptions.

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B-502: Other Choices Program Activities

Boards may use any of the following Choices activities without restriction if the activities can reasonably be expected to assist Choices participants in obtaining and retaining employment:

While they do not count toward a Board’s Choices performance measures, other Choices activities remain available for Choices customers to meet their participation requirements.

Boards have until the third month after the initial date a new Choices eligible begins receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits in which to work with the individual before participation through unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, On-the-Job Training (OJT) or educational services in the case of Choices eligibles who are teen heads of household and have not completed secondary school or received a GED credential is expected in a Board’s Choices performance measure(s).

B-502.a: Financial Literacy Training

As provided in Texas Labor Code §302.0027, Boards must ensure that workforce development services include financial literacy training. Financial literacy training can include microenterprise services, such as business counseling, financial assistance and technical assistance.

Money Smart, a comprehensive financial education curriculum, is designed to help low- and moderate-income individuals outside of the financial mainstream enhance their financial skills and create positive banking relationships.

Boards may use the Money Smart curriculum—available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese—to ensure that financial literacy training is available to customers.

Information on the Money Smart curriculum, including instructions on how to order free copies, is available on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation website.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff records the provision on financial literacy training into The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST). Special category code 218 – Financial Literacy is located on the Service Tracking – Service Information screen in TWIST. To track services that include financial literacy training, Boards must:

  1. Select the Service Category on the TWIST Service Tracking – Service Information screen.
  2. Select the Service.
  3. Select 218 – Financial Literacy from the Special Category dropdown field.

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B-503: Unsubsidized Employment

Boards must be aware of the following:

Unsubsidized employment is a work activity and includes the following:

B-503.a: Unsubsidized Employment—Self-Employment

Self-employment is defined as “an income-producing enterprise that will lead an individual on a clear pathway to self-sufficiency by lessening the family’s reliance on public benefits.” Texas Workforce Commission's (TWC) methodology to determine net self-employment income is the same methodology that Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) uses to determine eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

For self-employed Choices participants, Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff:

HHSC advisors and Workforce Solutions Office staff must inform households orally and in writing to keep self-employment records and receipts for verification purposes in future recertifications.

The individual’s net self-employment income (gross self-employment wages minus business expenses—the same formula used for determining TANF eligibility) is divided by the federal minimum wage to determine the number of hours worked.

In calculating the work participation rate for self-employed individuals, TWC counts the number of hours derived by dividing the individual’s net self-employment income (gross self-employment wages minus business expenses) by the federal minimum wage.

Established Self-Employment Enterprises

Boards must allow self-employment for individuals with an established self-employment enterprise, provided that the individuals can demonstrate that the enterprise renders a clear pathway to self-sufficiency by lessening family reliance on public benefits.

Boards must conduct an initial verification and require the following documentation currently used for Disaster Unemployment Assistance:

Property titles, deeds or rental agreement for the place of business;

Recent business bank statement or phone, utility or insurance bill;

Recent state sales tax return; or

Business records that provide proof of income and expenditures, such as copies of money orders or checks received, lists of individuals/customers served (if available), or personal wage records with third-party signed verification; or

For ongoing monthly verification, individuals are required to submit the following:

Prospective Self-Employment Enterprises That Lead to Self-Sufficiency

Boards must allow prospective self-employment enterprises, provided that the individuals can demonstrate that the enterprise renders a clear pathway to self-sufficiency by lessening family reliance on public benefits.

Boards must verify initially that the customer was in the process of establishing a self-employment enterprise by requiring the following documentation:

For ongoing monthly verification, Boards must ensure that individuals submit the following:

·         Documentation that provides information on the amount of income generated and the associated business expenses. Documentation must include invoices signed by the participant’s customers and contain customer names and contact information, dates and locations where services were provided and amounts received.

·         Business expense receipts that substantiate the expenses to be deducted from the gross income, if applicable.

Boards may assist in providing access to entrepreneurship training and business counseling.  Entrepreneurship training and business counseling can help customers determine if an enterprise is a viable venture that will result in self-sufficiency.

Boards must be aware that they can count actual hours worked in addition to any paid leave when calculating performance.

B-503.b: Unsubsidized Employment – Independent Contractor

An Independent Contractor is defined as “an individual who is self-employed, bears responsibility for his or her own taxes and expenses, and is not subject to an employer’s direction and control.” An independent contractor would be classified under the unsubsidized self-employment activity. 

Note: Independent Contractor is not to be confused with Contract Labor. Contract Labor is an employee, generally employed for a short-term period. Contract Labor "has income taxes withheld or FICA and constitutes an employer/employee relationship consistent with TWC’s Texas Payday Rules at §821.5. Contract Labor is considered unsubsidized employment.”  

B-503.c: Participation While Employed

If a Choices participant is employed, Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff reports the actual hours the participant works each day—not the number of hours the participant is scheduled to work.  The participant must provide documentation to verify all hours of employment. Hours of employment must be reported for at least the length of time that the recipient receives TANF.

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B-504: Subsidized Employment

Boards must be aware that subsidized employment is a work activity that includes the following:

Boards must be aware that they are precluded from being the employer of record for Choices participants enrolled in a subsidized employment activity.

Boards must ensure the following:

Boards must ensure that service providers report to Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) all subsidies and stipends for individuals currently receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance and denote the source of the subsidy so HHSC has complete information to determine income inclusions and exclusions for eligibility decisions.

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B-505: On-the-Job Training

Boards must be aware that on-the-job training (OJT) is a work activity and is provided by an employer to a work-eligible participant, on or off the worksite, who is engaged in productive work in a job.

Boards must ensure that OJT:

Unsubsidized employment after satisfactory completion of the training is expected. A Board must not contract with employers who have previously exhibited a pattern of failing to provide Choices participants in OJT with continued long-term employment, which provides wages, benefits and working conditions, that are equal to those that are provided to regular employees who have worked a similar length of time and are doing a similar type of work.

Boards must be aware that OJT placements are allotted to employers that expect to retain Choices participants as regular unsubsidized employees once the OJT placement has ended, unless successful completion of the placement is expected to result in unsubsidized employment with a different employer.

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B-506: Educational Services for Choices Participants

Boards must be aware of the following:

Educational services are available only for Choices participants who have not completed secondary school or received a GED credential. A case-by-case determination is made on whether to authorize, arrange or refer work-eligible individuals to secondary school leading to a high school diploma or a GED credential. This applies to Choices participants age 20 and older seeking educational services. Individuals who have a high school diploma or GED credential are not eligible.

Boards must ensure that educational services are directly related to employment and include the following:

Boards must be aware that Choices participants must be making good or satisfactory progress, as reported by the educational institution.

Boards must ensure Workforce Solutions Office staff counsels participants to revisit the activity in which the participants are not making good or satisfactory progress.

Boards must ensure that the Family Employment Plan includes an estimated time frame for completion of other educational and training services, based on individual factors.

Boards must be aware that for performance purposes only teen heads of households are included.

B-506.a: Required Documentation

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff documents monthly in The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST) good or satisfactory progress as determined by the institution providing the education or training services and maintains documentation in the participant’s file.

The institution must determine this at least monthly with documentation that includes the following:

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