Work Activities : Community Based Training

Program/Practice Name: Community Based Training (CBT)

Agency Name: Office of Economic Development, Division of Workforce Development (OED–WD)

Contact Information:

Curt Pesicka 
Manager of Operations 
Office of Economic Development, Division of Workforce Development
1200 Federal Blvd.
Denver, CO 80204
Phone: (720) 944–2736
Fax: (720) 944–4131
curt.pesicka@denvergov.org

Type of Program/Practice: CBT allows Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) participants to meet their work participation requirements, while giving them the opportunity to develop job skills and work experience needed to secure employment.

Program/Practice Description: CBT provides TANF participants a chance to meet their work participation requirements through formal community service placements. CBT is targeted toward individuals who have little work experience and allows participants to develop skills needed to obtain meaningful employment. Placements include unpaid work experience in nonprofit, for–profit, and government agencies, along with community service activities in schools, churches, and other nonprofit community organizations. Participants access CBT through three avenues:

  • OED–WD;
  • TANF contractors through OED–WD; and
  • Independent CBT identified by the TANF participant.

Placements vary among participants but, on average, have lasted one to three months. The maximum time a CBT placement may last is six months, unless otherwise agreed to by all parties. Employers who participate in CBT are required to provide a job description and outline the skills that participants will learn or practice during their placement. In addition to basic cash assistance, participants receive child care, transportation, and related supportive services. CBT placements are also subject to requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to Colorado policy guidance CBT participants are compensated at minimum wage. The TANF grant food assistance grants are used in determining the number of hours a participant may work in a month. OED–WD issues FLSA payments to participants who work hours above the basic cash and food assistance grants.

Background/Program History: This program evolved from another program called Work Pool. Through Work Pool TANF participants were placed in work experience placements at Denver Human Services to help them develop work experience and job skills in a structured, stable, and flexible work environment.

Innovations and Results: CBT allows individuals with little to no work experience and multiple barriers to employment to gain valuable job experience and develop marketable job skills to help them secure employment. This is done in a structured environment where participants have access to supportive services. Participants work closely with an OED–WD Business Development Associate to address barriers to employment, find a placement that aligns with the participant’s employment goals, and follow up with the participant and employer. OED–WD also contracts with 19 community based organizations to provide workforce development services, including CBT, to TANF participants. On average 22.4% of Denver’s TANF caseload participates in CBT on a monthly basis; 48.8% of TANF participants achieving the federal work participation rate are engaged in CBT, often in combination with GED/basic skills, vocational education, job search, or other work activities. CBT participants often have the opportunity to transition to subsidized and unsubsidized employment at their CBT site.

Tips to Implementation:OED-WD focuses on managing two customer populations: the TANF participant and the CBT employer. The CBT program addresses barriers to work from initial engagement with TANF participants so that participants are more likely to succeed in CBT placements. Cultivating and developing relationships with employers willing to participate in CBT has been key to program success. Employers are provided formal (subsidies, tax credits) and informal incentives to encourage participation.

Keys to Success: CBT placements mirror the world of work as much as possible. Since many participants have never worked before, this experience allows them to adapt to the world of work, which sometimes involves difficult adjustments. However, in CBT, participants are able to make mistakes in an environment where Business Development Associates can work closely with the customer and the employer to overcome workplace challenges.

Challenges:

  • Cultivating and maintaining relationships with employers.
  • Developing CBT placement opportunities that include a broad range of industries, occupations and job skills.
  • Rising caseloads and shrinking budgets means sufficient contractors or OED-WD Business Development Associates are not available to make CBT site visits on a regular basis.
  • Business Development Associates must act as mediators and job coaches.
  • Managing employer expectations and commitment to training.

The following tools are associated with Community Based Training.  Please send us an email at upitoolkit@icfi.com for more information about these tools.

Business Development Associate Job Description

Summary of CBT Program

Client Intake Packet

Colorado Works Individual Responsibility Contract (IRC) Addendum, Employment and Training Action Plan

Employer Outreach Packet

Community Based Training Work Pool Hand Book for the TANF Participant

Community Based Training Handbook for the Site Supervisor

Joint DHS/OED Policy on Fair Labor Standards Act and CBT