B-101: Case Management

The role of Workforce Solutions office staff in the Noncustodial Parent (NCP) Choices program is to eliminate NCPs’ barriers to employment so they can enter stable employment. Intensive case management is vital to ensuring that NCPs do not slip through the cracks.

Active participation is a basic requirement of NCP Choices. NCPs are required to participate in work activities for an average of 30 hours per week, as directed by Workforce Solutions office staff.

Local Workforce Development Boards (Boards) must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff maintains:

  • At least weekly, in-person contact with NCPs until they enter employment.
  • Monthly contact with NCPs for six months after they enter employment to track retention and provide postemployment services, as needed. Once an NCP becomes employed, monthly contact does not have to be in person.

To provide effective case management, it is critical that Boards ensure that each Workforce Solutions office staff member:

  • Carries a manageable NCP caseload—this will vary depending on local workforce development area size, level of services and number of NCPs in employment retention
  • Develops a thorough awareness of the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) and the local court system’s procedures and policies
  • Maintains ongoing communication with OAG staff regarding NCPs’ program participation and progress

Boards may coordinate information sharing and training with local OAG staff. Additional technical assistance can be provided by Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or OAG state staff.

In courts that hold compliance or review hearings, the court schedules and conducts judicial monitoring of cases. Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff attends NCP hearings in conjunction with OAG, and provides testimony, when requested, of NCP compliance, noncompliance or employment.

Boards must be aware that Workforce Solutions office staff is not responsible for ensuring that NCPs make child support payments; however, monitoring and encouraging NCPs to make payments can be a critical part of an NCP successfully meeting the terms of the court order.

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B-102: NCP Choices Process

  1. OAG identifies eligible NCPs.
  2. NCP appears for enforcement or establishment hearing.
  3. Judge orders NCP into the program.
  4. Workforce Solutions office staff provides workforce services to NCP by:
  5. Workforce Solutions office staff and OAG monitor NCP for compliance; program compliance means the NCP is participating in workforce services in accordance with his or her employment plan and is paying child support.

Figure 1. NCP Choices Program Process FlowchartPDF

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B-103: Intake

OAG identifies eligible NCPs and works with the court to set hearings for NCP cases on upcoming court dockets. Local OAG offices have monthly goals for the number of NCPs to be ordered into the NCP Choices program. The exact number can vary by site. Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff does not outreach NCPs or determine eligibility.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff attends NCP court hearings. (Professional dress and behavior in the courtroom is expected.)

Boards must be aware that Workforce Solutions office staff attendance at NCP court hearings:

  • Allows for ongoing communication between judges, OAG and Workforce Solutions office staff
  • Eliminates confusion about whether the individual has been ordered to participate in the NCP Choices program due to an enforcement or establishment case
  • Enables staff to immediately obtain a copy of the court order
  • Provides staff with the opportunity to have immediate contact with the NCP, which reinforces the partnership between the judge, OAG, and staff, and gives staff the chance to introduce NCPs to the program when they are most receptive

Upon mandate into the program by a judge, Boards must ensure that immediately after the NCP is ordered to participate in NCP Choices, Workforce Solutions office staff meets with the NCP to:

  • Explain the consequences for noncompliance, the NCP Choices program requirements and available workforce services
  • Obtain a signed OAG Authorization to Release Information form (available in the Resource section of the Choices Online Tracking System (COLTS) or from TWC technical assistance staff)
  • Schedule an initial appointment to meet again within one week of the court order date to complete a workforce orientation, initial assessment and employment plan
  • Provide the NCP with a signed appointment letter for the initial appointment, which includes contact information for the NCP and Workforce Solutions office staff

Additionally, Boards may choose to have signed copies of other enrollment forms, such as the Workforce Participation Agreement, Orientation to Complaint Procedure and other locally developed forms completed at court.

Boards must ensure that within one week of the court order date, Workforce Solutions office staff has:

  • Received a copy of the court order mandating the NCP’s participation
  • Completed an initial intake with the NCP

Note: The court order does not have to be signed by the judge for Workforce Solutions office staff to begin working with the NCP. However, it is a best practice, when possible, to have a signed copy of the court order in the NCP’s case file.

Boards must be aware that Workforce Solutions office staff can complete the initial intake at court, but typically it is completed during the NCP’s first meeting with Workforce Solutions office staff after the order to participate in the NCP Choices program. At the first meeting, Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff:

  • Obtains signed copies of enrollment forms, Workforce Participation Agreement, Orientation to Complaint Procedures and other locally developed forms if not completed at court
  • Provides a workforce orientation
  • Completes a comprehensive assessment of employment needs (including the need for support services)
  • Develops an employment plan with the NCP
  • Documents these services in TWIST and COLTS

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B-104: Workforce Orientation

The purpose of the workforce orientation is to inform NCPs of the services and tools available to facilitate their entry into the workforce. Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff does one of the following:

  • Allows NCPs to participate in a regularly scheduled Workforce Orientation for Applicants
  • Presents comparable information to help NCPs understand:

At a minimum, each workforce orientation must provide:

  • NCP Choices program participation requirements
  • Potential consequences of noncompliance with program participation requirements
  • Information on the following:

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B-105: Assessment

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff performs initial and ongoing assessments to:

  • Determine the employability and job retention needs of all NCP Choices participants, including wage advancement and career development needs
  • Guide the development of an employment plan

Boards may develop their own procedures and documentation requirements relating to assessments, provided the assessments identify an NCP’s:

  • Work experience
  • Job interests and goals
  • Support service needs
  • Vocational and educational skills and training
  • Preemployment and postemployment skills development needs in order to determine the necessity of job-specific training
  • Individual and family circumstances that could create barriers to employment or participation in NCP Choices

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B-106: Employment Planning

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff jointly develops an employment plan with each NCP to identify the participant’s employment goals and the sequence of services and activities needed to transition to permanent employment. The employment plan is an agreement with the NCP, describing each party’s responsibilities.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff:

  • Completes the initial employment plan no later than one week following the date of intake
  • Includes the following elements in the employment plan:
  • Prints, signs and dates the employment plan with the NCP
  • Provides a copy of the employment plan to the NCP
  • Retains the original and any updates to the employment plan in the NCP’s case file
  • Enters employment plan development as a service into TWIST and checks that the Counselor Notes in TWIST and COLTS reflect the elements of the employment plan

Boards must ensure that:

  • The NCP and his or her case manager regularly review and update the employment plan, based on any changes in the NCP’s goals, objectives, needs, barriers, progress or activities.
  • The case manager documents, reviews and updates information in TWIST and COLTS following each meeting with the NCP.

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B-107: Employment Services and Activities

The services provided to NCPs mirror the services provided to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients under TWC’s Choices program. The goal of NCP Choices services is to eliminate barriers to permanent full-time employment and earning self-sustaining wages.

Some local strategies to accomplish this goal include:

  • Collaborating with and coenrolling NCPs in other programs when appropriate (WIOA, Self-Sufficiency Fund, targeted job training programs, apprenticeships, etc.)
  • Offering incentives, such as gift cards and gas cards, to encourage greater participation
  • Connecting with local employers for subsidized employment or on-the-job training (OJT) opportunities

Boards must be aware that NCP Choices participants are required to participate in at least an average of 30 hours of work activities per week until they enter full-time employment.

Boards must ensure that case managers are accessible to allow NCP Choices participants to submit job search documentation, report job search progress and receive additional guidance.

Boards must ensure that the following employment and support services are provided, as appropriate, based on Workforce Solutions office staff assessments of an NCP’s skills, strengths and barriers, and as described in the NCP’s employment plan.

B-107.a: Job Readiness

Boards may provide job readiness services to assist NCP Choices participants in seeking, obtaining, and retaining employment. Job readiness activities include:

  • Life skills
  • Guidance and motivation for development of positive work behaviors for the labor market
  • Job skills assessment
  • Job counseling
  • Interviewing skills and practice interviews
  • Assistance with applications and résumés

B-107.b: Job Search

Boards must be aware that job search activities can be self-directed or staff-assisted and include:

  • Seeking and obtaining information on available jobs
  • Attending job fairs and job clubs
  • Contacting job referrals
  • Applying or interviewing for job vacancies
  • Contacting potential employers
  • Participating in job development services focused on active engagement of employers

B-107.c: Work Experience

Work experience includes any work without pay or compensation that allows an individual to gain knowledge, training, or skills necessary to obtain employment. Boards must ensure that work experience is:

  • Similar in concept to OJT
  • In the private, for-profit sector
  • Authorized on a case-by-case basis
  • Expected to improve the employability of the individual
  • Time-limited (as defined by the Board) and designed to move the recipient into unsubsidized employment
  • Unsalaried, with designated hours, tasks, skills, and attainment objectives
  • Supervised daily by an employer, worksite supervisor, or designated representative

B-107.d: On-the-Job Training

An employer provides OJT, on or off the worksite, to an NCP who is engaged in productive work in a job. Boards must ensure that OJT:

  • Provides knowledge or skills essential to the full and adequate performance of the job
  • Provides the employer with reimbursement of a percentage of the NCP’s wage rate for the extraordinary costs of providing the training and additional supervision related to the training
  • Is limited in duration as appropriate to the occupation for which the NCP is being trained, taking into account the content of the training, the prior work experience of the individual and the service strategy of the individual
  • Includes training specified by the employer (i.e., customized training)
  • Provides wages, benefits, and working conditions equal to those provided to the employer’s incumbent employees who have worked a similar length of time and performed a similar type of work
  • Is supervised daily by the employer, worksite sponsor, or service provider’s designated representative

Boards are not required to procure employers for OJT and customized training. However, if a Board chooses to offer OJT and customized training, it must establish local policies for identifying employers for OJT and customized training services.

B-107.e: Subsidized Employment

Subsidized employment is short-term, private-sector employment, either full time or part time, in which a portion of the individual’s wages is subsidized. It is designed to allow the individual to learn the skills necessary to transition into unsubsidized employment. A Board must not be the employer of record for NCPs enrolled in a subsidized employment activity. Employers cannot use subsidized employment to displace existing employees, and wages must be at least the federal minimum wage.

B-107.f: Unsubsidized Employment

Unsubsidized employment includes either full- or part-time employment in which wages are paid in full by the employer. If an NCP is not employed full time, Boards must ensure that he or she participates in additional employment activities to equal an average of 30 hours or more per week.

The following qualifies as full-time employment:

  • 30 hours per week or more, for which the individual receives wages or compensation from an employer or from self-employment
  • Weekly wages from an employer or from self-employment that are at least equal to 30 hours per week multiplied by the federal minimum wage

B-107.g: Unsubsidized Self-Employment

Initial Verification of Established Self-Employment Enterprises

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff conducts initial verification of established self-employment enterprises and requires one of the following forms of documentation:

  • Federal income tax forms or quarterly income reports, such as:
  • One of the following to prove existence of the business:
  • Business plans

Initial Verification of Prospective Self-Employment Enterprises

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff conducts initial verification of prospective self-employment enterprises and requires one of the following forms of documentation:

  • Property titles or deeds for the place of business
  • Rental agreement or letter from a property owner showing the customer plans to open a business
  • Other evidence indicating the customer is preparing to open a business, such as:

Ongoing Verification of All Self-Employment Enterprises

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff verifies on an ongoing basis participants’ self-employment enterprises as participants submit the following:

  • Documentation that provides information on the amount of income generated and the associated business expenses, which must include invoices signed by NCP Choices participants’ customers and contain:
  • Business expense receipts that substantiate the expenses to be deducted from the gross income, when applicable

B-107.h: Vocational Educational Training

Boards must ensure that, when provided, vocational educational training:

  • Is directly related to a demand occupation within the local labor market
  • Is consistent with the employment goals identified in the employment plan
  • Is provided only if there is an expectation that employment will be secured upon completion of the training
  • Prepares NCPs for a specific trade, occupation, or vocation other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree

Boards must ensure that training provided for an unemployed NCP is:

  • Short term (typically four to six weeks in duration)
  • Coordinated with local OAG staff
  • Documented in both COLTS and TWIST Services and Counselor Notes

Examples of successful short-term training courses include OSHA HAZWOPER, auto repair, welding, truck driving, HVAC, and forklift certifications.

B-107.i: Educational Services

Boards must ensure that allowable educational services directly relate to employment, including:

  • Educational activities leading to a high school diploma or completion of a high school equivalency credential
  • Adult Education and Literacy services
  • English as a Second Language
  • Workforce adult literacy and language instruction

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions office staff verifies that the educational services program provides the NCP with knowledge and skills related to specific occupations, work settings, jobs, or job offers.

Boards may:

  • Pay for the cost of testing and the issuance of certificates if other sources of payment are not available
  • Authorize payments up to the amount charged other customers of the test centers

Boards must ensure that NCPs demonstrate readiness to take one or more of the tests before being referred to test centers by Workforce Solutions office staff.

Boards must ensure that:

  • Charges cover the actual cost of testing, any national or state processing fees and the cost of the certificate
  • Direct payments are made to the test centers for testing costs and the issuance of certificates to NCPs

Boards must be aware that distance learning is an allowable activity and does not need to be performed in a supervised setting.  Supervised settings include Workforce Solutions offices, educational institutions or other applicable settings in which a responsible party is physically present and supervising the completion of computer-based training.

B-107.j: Community Service

Community service is a way to improve the employability of NCPs through unpaid work experience. Community service is no longer a requirement after four weeks of activity, but it is still recommended that Workforce Solutions office staff uses community service as they would any other activity. If used as an activity, Boards must ensure that community service:

  • Is authorized on a case-by-case basis
  • Contains structured, daily supervised activities with a public or private nonprofit organization that directly benefit the community
  • Benefits the customer in obtaining needed skills, including soft skills such as being on time, workplace skills, etc.

Community service positions may include work performed in any of the following:

  • School or Head Start program
  • Church
  • Government or nonprofit agency
  • AmeriCorps, Vista, or another private volunteer organization

Boards must ensure that community service placements are limited to positions that serve a useful community purpose in fields such as:

  • Health
  • Social service
  • Environmental protection
  • Education
  • Urban and rural redevelopment
  • Welfare
  • Recreation
  • Public facilities
  • Public safety
  • Child care

B-107.k: Postemployment Services

Because the first few months of employment are a critical time for new workers, postemployment follow-up and support services are important in helping individuals retain employment. Key postemployment strategies can include:

  • Extended or ongoing case management
  • Assistance with transportation and work-related expenses
  • Referrals to available education and training resources
  • Additional career planning and counseling
  • Referrals to other service providers and community resources
  • Mentoring

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B-108: Workforce Opportunity Tax Credit and Fidelity Bonding

WOTC is a federal income tax benefit administered by the US Department of Labor for private, for-profit employers that hire from target populations. WOTC reduces a business’s federal tax liability, serving as an incentive to select job candidates who may be somewhat disadvantaged in their efforts to find employment. Many NCPs may qualify for WOTC, making it less expensive to hire them. WOTC provides an additional incentive for employers to consider hiring an NCP. Additional information can be found on TWC’s WOTC website.

Additionally, free fidelity bonding services are available that protect employers against employee acts of dishonesty, including theft, forgery, larceny and embezzlement. Benefits include the following:

  • Bonds are issued for up to $5,000 for at-risk applicants.
  • Fidelity bonding is an incentive to the employer to hire an at-risk applicant.
  • Bonds are issued at no cost to the employer, with no deductible.
  • Fidelity bonding indemnifies a single, specific, employer-employee relationship.
  • Free fidelity bonding coverage is provided for a six-month period; thereafter, if no claim is made against the bond, it can be renewed through the regular commercial network.

Note: A fidelity bond is not a surety bond or performance bond (commonly required of contractors and self-employed individuals) or insurance for self-employed individuals.

Individuals eligible for fidelity bonding services include the following:

  • Ex-offenders, including individuals with records of arrest, probation or any police record
  • Applicants with poor credit histories, including bankruptcy
  • Veterans dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Public assistance recipients
  • Applicants with a substance abuse history
  • Disadvantaged youth who lack a work history
  • Anyone who cannot secure bonding through the regular commercial system

To submit a request on behalf of an NCP who has secured a job opportunity requiring fidelity bonding, email fidelity.bonding@twc.state.tx.us.

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