Choices Guide – B-700: Support Services

B-701: Support Services

(Revision 1/2017)

Boards must ensure that support services are provided to Choices-eligible individuals in order to address barriers to employment or participation in Choices services.

Examples of support services for Choices-eligible individuals include the following:

With the exception of child care services for eligible families, Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff does not extend support services for unemployed sanctioned families and conditional applicants beyond their demonstrated cooperation period.

After successfully demonstrating cooperation, support services can continue for conditional applicants and sanctioned families for up to two months or as long as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) case has not been denied.

Boards may provide support services to unemployed applicants and former recipients under the TANF short-term, non-recurring definition for up to four months. Services that are provided longer than four months are defined as assistance.

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff enters support services into The Workforce System of Texas (TWIST) under the Support Services tab. Child Care service will be entered, as a one-day service, with the redetermination date in the comment section.

Per §809.51, the three-month continued care will begin once the Choices Program detail in TWIST is closed and the customer is not participating in any work, education, or training activity at any level.

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B-702: Evaluation and Authorization for Child Care Services

(Revision 1/2017)

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff:

Boards must ensure that if a Choices participant indicates a need for support services, such as child care, that support is provided in order to remove any barrier to participation.

However, Boards must ensure that at the time child care is authorized or when changes in child care occur, Choices case managers inform participants of the following:

Boards also must ensure that:

Boards must ensure the following:

Boards must ensure that a separate entry is entered into TWIST Counselor Notes indicating the following:

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff enters support services into TWIST under the Support Services tab:

B-702.a: TANF Applicant Child Care

Boards must be aware of the following:

B-702.b: Choices Child Care

Boards must be aware of the following:

Choices-eligible individuals must be participating in the Choices program to be eligible for Choices child care. Other qualified individuals include the following:

B-702.c: Transitional Child Care

Boards must be aware of the following:

Choices participants who are denied TANF may be eligible for Transitional child care.

A parent is eligible for Transitional child care if the parent:

For additional information refer to Child Care Services rule §809.48  PDF.

B-702.d: Termination of Child Care

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff terminates child care services immediately after determining that a Choices participant has done one of the following:·        

Boards must ensure that child care is not terminated if a legitimate good cause reason existed or an agreement was made to make up hours.

B-702.e: Child Care Communication

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office Choices staff communicates all actions to Child Care services.

Boards may use Form E-2510, Notification of Child Care Eligibility, or a locally modified version of Form E-2510, when arranging child care services.

Boards must ensure that a locally modified form, at a minimum, indicates the following:

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B-703: Transportation Services

Boards must ensure that transportation assistance is provided when needed to enable a Choices participant to work or attend and participate in required Choices activities.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds can provide a wide variety of transportation services, as long as the expenditure reasonably accomplishes a TANF purpose such as supporting job preparation, education and work.

Boards must be aware that good cause is granted to Choices participants if transportation assistance is not available prior to participation or if transportation issues remain a barrier to participation.

B-703.a: Examples of Allowable Transportation Assistance

Examples of allowable transportation assistance include, but are not limited to, the following:

Additionally, Boards may issue basic cash allowances for transportation services to unemployed TANF recipients.

Evaluation of the Choices participant’s need for transportation and other available resources is part of the initial and ongoing assessment process. When assessing the need for transportation, it is recommended that Boards consider current economic circumstances, such as the following:

Boards must ensure that transportation services are reasonable, necessary and directly related to participation in allowable work activities, postemployment services and access to child care.

Additionally, it is recommended that Boards consider:

It is recommended that Boards do not place unnecessary restrictions—with the exception of available funding considerations—on the use of funds for transportation services as they can:

It is a recommended best practice for Boards to require Workforce Solutions Offices to maintain current lists of the following:

As set forth in B-1107:  Transportation, Boards must ensure that case managers adhere to established Board transportation policies.

B-703.b: Job Access and Reverse Commute Program

The Job Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program was authorized as a discretionary program under the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century and later changed under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act on August 10, 2005. This program is federally administered under the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration Agency (USDOT-FTA). The JARC program provides formula funding to states and designated recipients to support the development and maintenance of job access projects designed to transport public assistance and eligible low-income individuals to and from jobs and activities related to employment.

Boards may maximize transportation services by:

Boards may use TANF/Choices funds for a JARC project to:

Boards must ensure that expenditures under TANF/Choices are associated with the following:

Note:   USDOT-FTA defines an eligible low-income individual as one whose family income is at or below 150 percent of the poverty line—as is defined in §673(2) of the Community Services Block Grant Act (42 USC 9902(2))—for a family of that size. This information can be determined from the latest available U.S. Census data. Additionally, JARC project sub-recipients are responsible for determining, verifying and documenting income eligibility.

JARC projects are awarded on a cost reimbursement basis and funds are available for three years.  The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) posts a Notice of Request for Proposals for transportation projects in the Texas Register.

See the TxDOT website for more information about JARC and other transportation projects.

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B-704: Work-Related Expenses

(Revision 1/2017)

Boards may provide work-related expenses when they are necessary for Choices-eligible individuals to accept or retain employment that pays at least the federal minimum wage.

Boards may pay for work-related expenses in advance or as a reimbursement, based on a participant’s needs in relation to employment.

Examples of work-related expenses include the following:

Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff authorizes and reports work-related expenses under the The Workforce Information System of Texas Support Services tab and documents the expenses in Counselor Notes. Boards must establish local policies and procedures regarding methods of and limitations on work-related expenses.

Work-related expenses are also allowable when an individual participates in community service and work experience.

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B-705: Wheels to Work

(Revision 1/2017)

The Wheels to Work program consists of local nonprofit organizations donating vehicles for Choices-eligible individuals that obtain employment but are unable to accept or retain the employment because they lack transportation.

Boards using a Wheels to Work program must develop local policies and procedures establishing services to assist Choices-eligible individuals.

Boards must ensure that individuals have a verifiable job offer with wages that will support self-sufficiency and car ownership.

Choices work-related expenses may cover other costs associated with ownership of a vehicle including the following:

Note:  Individuals are responsible for purchasing liability insurance.

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B-706: Payment for GED Testing

Boards may authorize and pay for the cost of GED testing and issuance of the certificate.

Payments cover the following:

Boards must ensure that payments are made directly to GED test centers and the Texas Education Agency for GED testing costs and issuance of the certificate to Choices participants.

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B-707: Individual Development Accounts

Boards must be aware of the following:

For Choices participants, Individual Development Accounts (IDA) are similar to savings accounts. IDAs enable Choices participants to save for specific “big ticket” items, such as the following:

Individuals can contribute earned income and up to 50 percent of their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to an IDA. Amounts derived from earned income are eligible for matching Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission does not consider IDAs that meet TANF requirements as resources for the purpose of TANF eligibility. However, when a Choices participant withdraws money from an IDA that is not for an allowable qualifying purchase, it is then counted as income for the purpose of TANF eligibility.

Boards may set policy and procedures to provide for implementation and oversight of IDAs.

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B-708: Incentives for Choices Participants

(Revision 1/2017)

Issuing incentives to Choices participants gives Boards opportunities to improve employment, training and education outcomes.

Incentives are compensation in the form of gift cards and nonmonetary gifts or vouchers provided to a customer in exchange for meeting specified goals as defined by the Board. Incentives do not include support services such as child care, transportation or reimbursement of work-related expenses.

Boards choosing to offer nonmonetary incentives must develop guidelines and strategies that:

For example, nonmonetary incentives can be awarded for the following:

Boards must ensure that guidelines include a provision for the identification of Choices participants who are eligible to receive a nonmonetary incentive.

Eligible Choices participants include those who are:

As referenced in B-1103: Incentives, Boards must ensure that case managers adhere to the established Board incentive policies.

B-708.a: TWIST Data Entry for Incentives

When Choices participants are determined eligible for an incentive, Boards must ensure that Workforce Solutions Office staff enters accurate documentation into TWIST under the appropriate support service code as well as documents the information in TWIST Counselor Notes.

Additionally, Boards must ensure that when Workforce Solutions Office staff enters incentive information into TWIST, the:

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