Washington's WorkFirst Program
A Good Idea
The state of Washington designed its WorkFirst welfare reform program, including participation requirements, to meet federal requirements as well as outcomes the state desired. Helping individuals become self-sufficient is a key outcome for the state. In addition, several principles have shaped the WorkFirst program. These include the value of making work pay and the expectation that all TANF recipients will engage in work or other activities to move toward self-sufficiency. Washington developed the components of its welfare program to create viable opportunities for recipients to meet participation expectations. For example, the state allows skills training activities to count toward participation requirements and has a paid jobs program - Community Jobs - for recipients who need to build employability skills. Washington is also working to improve participation by developing tracking and monitoring tools that enable WorkFirst program specialists to identify gaps in participation so that they can intervene to reengage recipients whose participation in required activities has dropped off.
Goal / Mission
The goal of this program is to help individuals move toward self-sufficiency.
Results / Accomplishments
WorkFirst program specialists use an automated system that enables them to track recipient activities, recipient progress, and individual responsibility plans. The system notifies the WorkFirst program specialist two weeks before an activity is expiring. The state has extended the use of this system to contractors and community colleges that serve TANF recipients. Washington also has an automated tracking system with its job search activity, which is often a recipient's initial activity. This system helps the state track attendance at job search activities from the first day that recipients are required to start participating. In fiscal year 2002, the state achieved a participation rate of 49.8 percent.
About this Promising Practice
- Primary Contact
- Steve Ebben, Policy Analyst
Economic Services Administration
Office of the Assistant Secretary, MS: 45070
PO Box 45070
Olympia, WA 98504-5070
Economy / Government Assistance Programs
Economy / Employment
Economy / Poverty
- Washington Department of Social and Health Services
- Finance Project
- Date of publication
- Apr 2004