Choices Guide - A-200: Definitions of Choices Terms

(Revision 10/2016)

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45 CFR

The Code of Federal Regulations is the compilation of general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register. The publication is divided into numbered titles. Title 45, issued by Administration for Children and Families (ACF), contains the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) regulations.

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An adult or teen head of household in a family who applies for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, who previously did not leave TANF in a sanctioned status.


An in-depth evaluation of employability, education history, vocational skills, literacy levels, work experience, family circumstances and support service needs.

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Employment services available to Choices eligible individuals.

Choices Eligible

An individual eligible to receive Choices services including an adult or teen head of household who is an applicant, conditional applicant, recipient, non-recipient parent, former recipient or sanctioned family.

Choices Participant

An individual who is participating in or was outreached for Choices services. This includes exempt and mandatory participants.

Choices Plus

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funded postemployment services that are available to Choices participants who are employed, applicants, conditional applicants, former recipients and sanctioned families that have obtained employment but require additional assistance in retaining employment and achieving self-sufficiency.

Community Service

A program that provides employment and training activities to Choices participants through unsalaried, work-based positions in the public or private nonprofit sectors. Community service programs contain structured, supervised activities that are a direct benefit to the community and are designed to improve the employability of Choices participants who have been unable to find employment.

Conditional Applicant

An adult or teen head of household who left TANF in a sanctioned status, but who is reapplying for TANF assistance that must demonstrate cooperation with Choices program requirements for four consecutive weeks.

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Earned Income Deduction (EID)

A standard work-related and income deduction, available for four months through Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

Employment Activities

Activities directly related to work, including unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment and on-the-job training.

Employment Planning Session (EPS)

A meeting with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient(s) to introduce them to Choices services.

Exempt Choices Participant

A TANF recipient who is not required to participate in Choices services, but may volunteer to participate.

Extended TANF Recipient

A recipient who receives TANF cash assistance past the 60-month federal time limit because of a hardship exemption as defined in Texas Human Resources Code, Chapter 31 and HHSC rules (1 TAC, Chapter 372).

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Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Establishes minimum wages, overtime pay, child labor and required payroll record-keeping standards.

Family Employment Plan (FEP)

A plan of action agreed upon by the Choices participant and based on assessments (skills, strengths and abilities) with the goal of self-sufficiency through employment that meets the needs of the local labor market.

Financial Literacy Training

The provision of information on financial and debt management, which includes business counseling, financial assistance and technical assistance, through workshops and group activities on coping with financial matters.

Former Recipient

An adult or teen head of household who no longer receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) assistance because of employment.

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Job Readiness

Short-term structured activities or a series of activities lasting less than six months designed to prepare a job seeker for unsubsidized employment and increase the job seeker’s employability. Activities may include, but are not limited to: interviewing skills, job retention skills, personal maintenance skills, professional conduct skills and introductory computer skills.

Job Search

Acts of seeking or obtaining employment, or preparing to seek or obtain employment, including life skills training, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment or rehabilitation activities. Activities may include: information on and referral to available jobs; occupational exploration, including information on local emerging and demand occupations; job fairs; applying or interviewing for job vacancies; and contacting potential employers.

Job Skills Training

Training or education for job skills required by an employer to provide a Choices participant with the ability to obtain employment, advance or adapt to the changing demands of the workplace.

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Local Workforce Development Board (Board)

Responsible for planning and oversight of workforce services within a designated local workforce development area (workforce area).

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Mandatory Choices Participant

A Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipient who is required to participate in Choices services.

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A lack of response to outreach notices or a failure to participate in Choices activities in accordance with the Family Employment Plan.

Non-recipient Parent

Adults or minor heads of household not receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, but living with their own children who are receiving TANF cash assistance. Non-recipient parents include parents who are not eligible for TANF cash assistance:

A.   due to a disqualification by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.  These disqualifications include parents who:

                     i.   refuse to comply with Medicaid third-party resource requirements

                   ii.   do not comply with Social Security number requirements

                  iii.   are found guilty of an intentional program violation

                  iv.   fail to report the temporary absence of a certified child

                   v.        are fugitives fleeing to avoid prosecution of, or confinement for, a felony criminal conviction, or are found by a court to be violating federal or state probation or parole

                  vi.   are convicted of a felony drug offense (not deferred adjudication) committed on or after April 1, 2002

                 vii.   refuse to cooperate with the program integrity assessment process

B.   because they are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); or

C.     because they have exhausted their TANF state time limit. 

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One-time TANF (OTTANF)

A lump sum grant of $1,000 offered through Texas Health and Human Services Commission and intended to help Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants experiencing short-term crises by providing upfront financial assistance along with exposure to the services offered by Workforce Solutions Offices. TANF applicants who 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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Personal Responsibility Agreement (PRA)

A condition of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility maintained by Texas Health and Human Services Commission requiring TANF recipients who are caretakers or second parents to:

Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105, as amended

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An adult or teen head of household who receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance.

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Sanctioned Family

An adult or teen head of household who must demonstrate cooperation for one month to have Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance reinstated.

Secondary School

Educational activities including middle school, high school leading to a high school diploma or classes leading to the completion of a GED credential.


A customer’s statement of participation hours that is used as evidence or verification of those hours.


A customer’s declaration of participation hours that requires further documentation in order to serve as evidence or verification of those hours.

Self-Sufficiency Fund Program

A Texas Workforce Commission-administered program that provides grants to community colleges, technical colleges and community-based organizations to implement customized job training programs in cooperation with employers, to help low-income individuals and those receiving public assistance achieve self-sufficiency and independence.

Service Codes

Codes used in The Workforce System of Texas to record services provided to participants.


The standard literacy assessments for TANF recipients who communicate primarily in Spanish and are enrolled in Choices.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the cornerstone of the federal food assistance programs and provides crucial support to needy households and to those making the transition from public assistance to work. It also provides low-income households with electronic benefits they can use like cash at most grocery stores. Texas Health and Human Services Commission administers the program at state and local levels, including determination of eligibility and allotments, and distribution of benefits.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T)

Assists SNAP recipients by improving their ability to obtain regular employment and reduce their dependence on public assistance.

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TANF Applicant Child Care

Child care for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants who receive a referral—Form H2588—from Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to attend a Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA), locate employment or have increased earnings prior to TANF certification and who need child care to accept or retain employment.

TANF Cash Assistance

The cash grant provided through HHSC to individuals who meet certain residency, income and resource criteria as provided under federal and state statutes and regulations, including Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant statutes, the TANF State Plan, TANF assistance provided under Texas Human Resources Code, Chapters 31 and 34 and other related regulations.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families State Program (TANF-SP)

The state-funded temporary cash assistance program designed specifically for two-parent families.

Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)

The statewide standard literacy assessment instrument used to determine the appropriateness of initial state time-limit designations for temporary cash assistance.

Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)

The state agency responsible for providing mental health and substance abuse services to Choices participants. Boards are required to enter into a local-level memorandum of understanding (MOU) with local providers of these services.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)

The lead state agency responsible for certifying Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility. HHSC provides Texas Workforce Commission with information on individuals receiving TANF and eligible Choices services. Boards are required to have a local-level memorandum of understanding for coordinated case management of Choices participants.

The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST)

Texas Workforce Commission’s automated data processing and case management system for the Texas workforce system.

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Vocational Educational Training

Organized educational programs directly related to preparing Choices participants for employment in current or emerging occupations.

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Work Codes

Codes assigned by Texas Health and Human Services Commission to individuals who apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance.

Work-Eligible Individuals

Adults or teen heads of household receiving TANF cash assistance, and non-recipient parents—with the following exceptions:

Work Experience

Unpaid training in the public or private sector designed to improve the employability of Choices participants who have been unable to find employment.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA)

An act that offers an integrated and comprehensive range of services consisting of workforce development activities benefiting employers, job seekers and communities. Choices participants may be coenrolled in WIOA services.

Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA)

As a condition of TANF eligibility, applicants and conditional applicants are required to attend a workforce orientation that provides information on options and services available to them. An alternative WOA is provided if extraordinary circumstances prevent a TANF applicant or conditional applicant from attending a regularly scheduled WOA.

Work Ready

A Choices eligible is considered work ready if he or she has skills that are required by employers in the workforce area. A Board must ensure immediate access to the labor market to determine whether a Choices eligible has those skills necessary to obtain employment.

Work Requirement

For the purposes of 42 USC §607 and 45 CFR §261.10, a Choices participant is deemed to be engaged in work by participating in the following:

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