Sanctions : Rapid Employment Attachment Program

Program/Practice Name:Rapid Employment Attachment Program (REAP)

Agency Name: The Women's Center of Tarrant County and Tarrant County Workforce Development Board (TCWDB), d.b.a. Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County under the auspices of the Texas Workforce Commission

Contact Information:

Kris Kizer 
Kris.kizer@workforcesolutions.net

Brenda Harrist
Brenda.harrist@workforcesolutions.net

Type of Program/Practice: REAP assists Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) clients who have had 1 month of work participation noncompliance achieve month 2 compliance and avoid the loss of TANF benefits through job search and job readiness training. The program also assists TANF applicants who have received a full-family sanction to demonstrate cooperation in order to regain their benefits.

Program/Practice Description:In Texas, sanctions for noncompliance with work requirements are imposed swiftly and frequently. As of October 2003, the penalty for failure to participate in Choices (the State's TANF work program) is full-family sanction. Full-family sanctions include the loss of all TANF cash assistance and the adult's Medicaid benefits. To reinstate benefits, participants must show 30 days of compliance. Two consecutive months of noncompliance results in the denial of the TANF case and the recipient must reapply for benefits. Recipients are referred to participate in REAP following 1 month of noncompliance. REAP is a 1-month program designed to assist the recipient in demonstrating 30 days of compliance and avoiding the loss of TANF benefits.

Background/Program History: REAP evolved from an Innovative Initiatives RFP issued by TCWDB. The Women's Center has a long history of working with welfare mothers (though this program serves both women and men).

Innovations and Results: REAP was designed to avoid 2 consecutive months of noncompliance with work participation rates that would result in the loss of TANF benefits. REAP is located at all Texas Workforce Commission One-Stop Centers in Tarrant County. A key innovation of this program is the open entry and exit format. Each day of the 30-day program is designed as an individual lesson, allowing noncompliant recipients to enter the program immediately. Immediate program entry enables a TANF recipient to demonstrate 30 days of compliance and prevent the loss of their TANF benefits. TANF recipients that cycle back through the program receive intensive case management.

Operations: The REAP class is operated 4 hours a day, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The REAP curriculum covers non-core work activities and job search to achieve 30 hours per week compliance in month 2. The curriculum covers job readiness, business culture training (e.g., appropriate workplace actions, customs, and clothing), interview skills, resume assistance, conflict resolution skills, and budgeting modules. The Women's Center runs REAP as a community-based organization contractor to TCWDB. As a community-based organization, the Women's Center implements TCWDB policies and reports program results to the TCWDB program liaison.

Tips to Implementation: A program such as this needs coordination among the Texas Workforce Commission, the Health and Human Services Commission, and community-based organizations to succeed. Face-to-face meetings between contractors and the two State agencies have helped resolve coordination issues in an effective and timely manner. Curriculum design that allows immediate client service and location of the program within the One-Stop system also have increased the program's ability to serve the TANF populations facing sanctions.

Keys to Success:

  • Coordination and communication among the Texas Workforce Commission, the Health and Human Services Commission, and community contractors.
  • Co-location of REAP within the One-Stop Center; some locations also have TANF eligibility offices located on the same campus.
  • Open entry and exit curriculum design of REAP allows the program to serve clients immediately, before they risk losing TANF benefits.

Challenges: The Texas Workforce Commission electronic case management system, The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST), was not accessible to all community-based organizations. A new data entry and reporting system had to be developed for community-based organizations. Also, developing paths for people who may appear in REAP more than once was a challenge. REAP now provides those individuals with intensive case management and often offers them mentoring roles for new applicants. Serving as mentors generates a high level of commitment in the original participant.

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