Wake County

 

Work First Plan

 

FFY 07-09

 

November 1, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision Statement

 

Wake County Human Services seeks to broaden the role of its Work First Block Grant by investing in the services that families need to move from welfare to work, remain in the workforce, and move out of poverty.  Included in this vision is the commitment to assist low-income working families by providing an array of services and supports, which strengthen the family and promote child well-being. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact for further information: 

 

Jack Rogers, Director, Economic Self-Sufficiency

(919) 212-7080    Fax:  (919) 212-9491

 

Barbara Harris, Work First Program Manager

(919) 212-7222    Fax:  (919) 212-7191

 

Wake County Human Services

220 Swinburne Street

PO Box 46833

Raleigh, NC  27620-6833

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INDIVIDUALS, AGENCIES, AND BUSINESSES WHICH HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF WAKE COUNTY’S WORK FIRST PLAN

 

    Wake County Board of Commissioners

6

    Wake County Manager

6

    Wake County Human Services Board

6

    Wake County Work First Steering Committee

7

    Wake Area Business Advisory Council

8

    Wake County Human Services (WCHS) Staff

9

     Members of the WCHS Executive Team

9

     Members of WCHS Services Management Team

9

     Members of the WCHS Economic Self-Sufficiency Management Team

9

     Additional WCHS Staff

10

     WCHS Work First Team Leaders

10

     DSS Work First Regional Representative

10

 

 

INTRODUCTION

11

 

 

AN OVERVIEW OF THE COUNTY

11

 

 

The Case for Wake County’s Plan

12

     Current Realities for Low-Income Families in Wake County

12

     High Cost of Living in Wake County

13

     Pressing Problems:  Identified Barriers to Self-Sufficiency in Wake County

14

     Affordable Housing

14

     Transportation

15

     Childcare

15

     Prioritization of Childcare Funds

16

     Lack of Education and Training

17

     Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

17

     Domestic Violence

18

     Key Issues Addressed by the Plan

18

     Responding to the Changing Work First Caseload

18

     Statement of Principles

19

     Actions to Reach the Vision

19

 

 

WAKE COUNTY ECONOMIC CONDITIONS

20

     Current Conditions

20

     Layoffs and Business Closings

20

     Job Availability

20

     Workforce by Industry

20

     Largest Employers – Raleigh/Wake County & Research Triangle Park

20

     Projected Conditions

21

     Population and Wages

21

     Industry and Employment

21

 

 

PLANNING PROCESS

21

     Wake County Human Services Board

22

     Work First Steering Committee and Wake Area Business Advisory Council

22

     Public and Staff Review

23

     Other Planning Efforts

23

 

 

OUTCOMES AND GOALS FOR THE COUNTY

23

 FRAMING THE GOALS

23

     The Numbers of the Wake County Work First Program

23

     The Dynamics of the Wake County Work First Program

23

 

 

PLANS TO ACHIEVE AND MEASURE THE OUTCOMES AND GOALS

24

 

 

STATEWIDE WORK FIRST GOALS

24

     Putting Adults to Work

24

     Job Development

25

     Job Training, Job Retention Services and Other Support Services for Work First

     Participants

 

26

     Staying Off Welfare After Going to Work

27

     Meeting the “All Parent” (All Family) Participation Rate

28

     Meeting the “Two Parent” Participation Rate

28

     Avoiding Welfare through Benefit Diversion

29

     Employed 6 Months After Leaving Work First                                        

30

     Employed 12 Months After Leaving Work First

     Wake County “S” Code Exemption

31

31

 

WAKE COUNTY WORK FIRST GOALS

 

32

     Child Well-Being

32

     Building Capacities In Work First Families

33

     Continue to Provide an Array of Training Options, Job Placement, and Support

     Services for Work First Families

 

34

     Use Workforce Development Systems to Provide Employment Opportunities

35

     Partner with Transportation Services to Ensure Reliable Transportation to and from

     Work

 

36

    Promote the Development of Affordable Housing and Related Support Services

36

    Intensive Housing Services

37

    Develop and Use Measures to Determine the Success of the Program

39

 

 

 

 

ADMINISTRATION

40

 

 

AGENCY ORGANIZATION

40

     Economic Self-Sufficiency (WCHS)

42

     Staff Development (WCHS)

42

     Eligibility Determination

43

     JobLink and Co-location of Services

43

FIRST STOP PROGRAM

44

Prioritization of Childcare Funds

44

     Transportation  

44

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

44

     Human Services Role in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

44

     NC CASA WORKS Program

45

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

45

     The Family Violence Prevention Center, Inc. (DBA Interact Services)

45

     Use of Public and Private Resources

46

 

 

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

46

HOW WAKE COUNTY WILL ADDRESS THE EMERGENCY NEEDS OF

FAMILIES

 

46

     TANF/Emergency Assistance (EA)

46

     150% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2006 – (Monthly Amounts)

47

 

 

SERVICES FOR FAMILIES WITH INCOME AT OR BELOW 200%

47

      200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2006 – (Monthly Amounts)

47

 

 

SERVICES FOR NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS OF WORK FIRST RECIPIENT

CHILDREN

 

47

 

 

CHILD WELFARE

48

 

 

SUCCESS FOR WORK FIRST “FAMILIES AT RISK” INITIATIVE

48

 

 

FUNDING REQUIREMENTS

49

     Activities to be Funded through Maintenance of Effort (MOE)

49

     Work First Block Grant Earmarked for Child Welfare Services

49

     Personnel Schedule

49

 

 

INNOVATIVE COUNTY STATEGIES

50

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

50

      Wake County Human Services Hosting JobLink Career Center

50

      Formal Vocational Evaluations – Raleigh Vocational Center

50

      Supportive Employment/Work First Collaborative Project

50

      PRO-Familia

NEXT GENERATION                                                                                                          

50

51

HOUSING SERVICES

51

      Wake TANF Housing Program

51

      Welfare-To-Work Voucher Program

52

      Work First Housing  - Set Asides

52

OTHER INNOVATIVE PRACTICES

52

      WCHS Review Panel for Work First Extension Requests

52

 

 

SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH

52

       Co-location of Qualified Substance Abuse Professionals

52

       Adult Mental Health/Work First Integrated Care Project

52

 

 

EMERGING ISSUES

53

 

 

CONCLUSION

54

 

 

CERTIFICATIONS

54

     Wake County Board of Commissioners

          54

     Wake County Human Services Board

          54

 


INDIVIDUALS, AGENCIES, AND BUSINESSES WHICH HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF WAKE COUNTY’S WORK FIRST PLAN

 

WAKE COUNTY BOARD OF  COMMISSIONERS:

 

 

Mr. Tony Gurley, Chair

Mr. Harold Webb, Vice-Chair

Mr. Joe Bryan

Mr. Herb Council

 

Mr. Kenn Gardner

Mr. Phil Jeffreys

Mrs. Betty Lou Ward

WAKE COUNTY MANAGER:

 

 

Mr. David Cooke

 

 

 

WAKE COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES (WCHS) BOARD MEMBERS:

 

 

Dr. John C. Key, PhD

Ms. Sonya T. Catlett

Mr. Charles M. King

Ms. Carol L. Coonley, Ex-officio

Mr. James L. Mebane

Dr. Dianne Dunning, DVM, MS, DACVS

Ms. Leena Mehta, ICEH., MBA, PMP

Dr. David Filipowski, PhD, Vice-Chair

Ms. Lou Mitchell

Mr. Lawrence Fleming

Mrs. Helen K. Poole, RN, Chair

Dr. Sharon M. Foster, MD

Ms. Octavia Rainey

Mr. W. Kent Goddard

Mr. Clarence (Benny) Ridout, RPH

Mr. Rich Greb

Mr. Jeffrey K. Smith

Mr. W. Leslie Hall, Jr.

Mr. William L. (Bill) Stanford

Dr. Burton A. Horwitz, DDS

Dr. Seth E. Tabb, MD

Commissioner Phil Jeffreys

Mr. Steve G. Thanhauser

 

 

 

The Human Services Board has, by State law, a prescribed membership.  The positions which they

represent are:

 

Pharmacist

Engineer

Psychologist

Dentist

Psychiatrist

Optometrist

Social Worker

Veterinarian

Registered Nurse

General Public (6)

Other Physician

County Commissioner

Person with Mental Illness

Consumer of Other Human Services (2)

Person Recovering from Substance Abuse

 

Person with a Developmental Disability

 

Family Member of a Person with a Developmental Disability

Family Member of a Person with Mental Illness

Family Member of a Person with Substance Abuse

 

 

WAKE COUNTY WORK FIRST STEERING COMMITTEE:

 

Ms. Jean Agnew, Co-Chair

Community Advocate

Mr. David Bain 

Wake County Human Services, Substance Abuse Services

Ms. Lee Baker 

Wake County Human Services, Substance Abuse Services

Ms. Alfreda Barnett

Capital Area Work Force Development Board

Mr. Darryl Blevins

Wake County Human Services, Director - Eastern Regional Center

Rev. Charles Brown

Mrs. Ella Goodson

Wesleyan First Church of Deliverance, Pastor

Community Representative

Mrs. Allison Hapgood

Raleigh Housing Authority

Ms. Kathy Johnson

Ms. Merle Lee

Interact

Eastern Wake Community Representative

Dr. Randy Marsh

Wake County Human Services, Psychologist

Dr. Neill McLeod, Co-Chair

Wake Technical Community College, Retired

Mr. Gene Norton

Ms. Lynn Pryor

North Carolina Employment  Security Commission

Wake County Human Services - Mental Health Clinician

Ms. Jennifer Simmons

Dr. Khalil Tanas

Legal Aid

Wake County Human Services, Psychiatrist

Mr. Michele Tavernise

Ms. Valerie Thomas-Davis                   

Community Representative

NC CASAWorks

Mr. Al Thomas

Community Partnerships Inc.

Mr. Ross Yeager

Wake County Human Services, Regional Center

 

 

 

 

Work First Team Leaders:  See Page 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAKE BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL:

 

 

Ms. Kate Wickers

Adecco Employment

Ms. Brenda Wilkerson

Mr. John O’Connor

Ms. Jodie Riggs

Capital Area Workforce Development Board

Career Pro of NC, Inc.

Career Results

Ms. Trina Simpson

Community Partnerships, Inc.

Mr. Alan Levinson

ECPI College of Technology

Mr. Stephen Johnson

Community Partnership

Ms. Susan Hamlett

Express Personnel Services

Ms. Courtney Hodgson

GCF Global Learner

Ms. Carmen Carroll

JobLink Career Center @ Swinburne

Mr. Brian Propst

John Hancock Financial Network

Ms. Leslie McMillan

LSM Insurance Associates

Ms. Angela Brinker

Luihn Food Systems

  Mr. Arwa Karame                               Marriott Employment Center

  Ms. Kistina Freeman               McLaurin Parking

  Ms. Christine Harrington                     NC Division of Services for the Blind

  Mr. Lewis Clark                                  NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

  Ms. Teresa Johnson                             NC Division of Employment & Training

  Ms. Lise Bireline                               NC State University - HR - UTS

  Mr. John Beavans                                Prism Publishing, Carolina Job Finder

  Ms. Hazel Miller                                  Raleigh Lions Clinic for the Blind

  Mr. Charles Burton                              Raleigh-Wake HRMA

  Ms. Robin Mathes                   Rescare, Inc. - Community Alternative - NC

  Ms. Leslie Samet                    The Human Approach

  Mr. Terry Brown                                 The News & Observer

  Mr. Ernie Hand                                   United Energy, Inc.

  Mr. Mark Parbus                                Unlocked Potential

  Ms. Conni Tucker                               Wake County Economic Development

  Mr. Jim Houck                                   Wake Enterprises - Human Resources

  Ms. Jeanette Moss                             Wake Technical Community College

  Mr. Patrick O’Quaye                          WCHS - Spectrum House

  Mr. Darrell Price                                 WCHS - Supportive Employment

  Mr. Jimmy Newton                              WCHS - Work First

  Ms. Janny Flynt                                   WCHS - Workforce Development

  Ms. Tammy Russo                   Zebulon Chamber of Commerce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WAKE COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES STAFF:

 

The following Wake County Human Services Staff were either involved in core planning efforts and/or were involved in supporting the planning efforts of the Human Services Board and the Work First Steering Committee:  Please note that Wake County does not have separate boards of Health, Mental Health and Social Services.  The Wake County Human Services Board acts in that capacity for the merged Departments of Health, Mental Health and Social Services.  Mr. Vernon Malone served as the Wake County Commissioners Representative on the Human Services Board as well as the Work First Planning committee.  All members of the Work First Steering Committee were active participants in the planning process; their business and community affiliations are noted by their name.  The planning also involved the Wake County Business Advisory Council.

 

Members of the WCHS Executive Team:

 

Ms. Maria Spaulding

Director of Wake County Human Services

Mr. C. Robert Sorrels

Dr. Peter Morris

 

Deputy Director of Wake County Human Services

Medical Director

Members of WCHS Services Management Team:

 

Ms. Gibbie Harris

Director of Community Initiatives & Health Services

Dr. Warren Ludwig

Director of Child Welfare & Mental Health

Mr. Jack Rogers

Director of Economic Self-Sufficiency

Ms. Mary Urzi

Director of Family Support Services

Ms. Rosena West

Director of Southern Regional Center

Mr. Darryl Blevins

Director of Eastern Regional Center


 

Members of the WCHS Economic Self-Sufficiency Management Team: 

 

Ms. Willie Beachum

Service Intake Program Manager

Mr. David Harris

Director of Housing Services & Homeless Prevention

Ms. Kay Ferguson

Economic Self-Sufficiency Program Developer

Ms. Barbara Harris

Work First Program Manager

Mrs. Betsy Moore

Program & Staff Development Program Manager

Ms. Lillian Overton

Child Support Enforcement Program Manager

Ms. Dean Simpson

Family & Children’s Medicaid & Food Assistance Program Manager

Ms. Jennifer Wheeler

Employment and Training Services Program Manager


 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Additional WCHS Staff include: 

 

Ms. Gloria Cook

Child Day Care

Mr. Brian Gunter

Consumer Affairs

Mr. Jeff Hildreth

DD Services

Mr. Jason Forlines

Business Officer

Mr. Stone Blevins

Child Protective Services - Investigations

Dr. David Langmeyer

Accountability and Outcome Management

Ms. Jane Martin

Communications & Marketing

Ms. Elaine Rakouskas

Foster Care

Ms. Betty Rowland

Adult Mental Health

Ms. Gaye Styron

Child Protective Services - Treatment

Ms. Katherine Williams

Wake County Cooperative Extension Service

Mr. Don Willis

Transportation Planner

 

WCHS Work First Team Leaders:

 

Ms. Beverly Armstrong

Ms. Erica Barfield

Ms. Vivian Floyd

Mrs. Carol Fuquay

Ms. Vera Greene

Mrs. Marty Greer

Mrs. Pamela Pridgeon

Ms. Etta Rochelle

 

WCHS Work First Trainers

 

Mrs. Shannon Fasulo

Mrs. Tonya Joyner-Scott

Mrs. Renee Smith

 

DSS Work First Regional Representative:

 

Mr. Carl Breazeale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In January 1998, Wake County developed its first biennial Work First County Block Grant plan and submitted it to the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) State Division of Social Services.    

 

This fall each North Carolina County is again developing a Work First Block Grant Plan, as described in NCGS Chapter 108-27, to become effective October 1, 2007.  At the direction of the State Division of Social Services, this plan is being written to coincide with Federal Fiscal Years (FFY) 2007 and 2009. 

 

However, it is important to note that the numerical performance indicators for the State Work First goals as cited in this plan are for FY 05-06. It is anticipated that DHHS will continue to establish specific performance indicators for each county on an annual basis.    

 

Wake County’s Work First Plan outlines steps toward economic self-sufficiency for Work First families.  Specifically, Wake County’s Plan identifies actions to achieve statewide Work First Goals and Work First Goals specific to Wake County.  Included in this plan are identified barriers to employment and strategies for overcoming these roadblocks to employment. As a Standard County, Wake County will follow the recommended Work First County Block Grant Plan Model for FFY 2007-2009.   

 

AN OVERVIEW OF THE COUNTY

 

Wake County, centrally located in North Carolina, covers 860 square miles and the 2005 forecast list the population as 693,649. Wake County is already the second most populated county in the state and the annual percent of population change for 2000-2005 is 2.94%. Since 1980, Wake County’s population has doubled and in the last decade has increased its population by an average of 18,400 people per year, or about 50 people per day.

 

Wake County's twelve municipalities include Raleigh, which is the state capital and County seat.  The County is governed by the seven-member Wake County Board of Commissioners, who are elected for four-year terms.  Under their direction, a professional County Manager oversees the daily provision of services to citizens ranging from health programs and other human and social services to parks and recreational opportunities, land use planning and zoning responsibilities, law enforcement and public safety, solid waste disposal, recycling and libraries  (Wake County Web Page: http://www.state.nc.us/Wake).


Additional Wake County municipalities and townships include: 

Municipality

Population 1990

Population 2000

Numerical Change 1990-2000

Percent Change 1990-2000

Average Annual Numerical Growth

Average Annual Percentage Growth

APEX

        4,968

20,212

15,244

306.84%

1,524

15.06%

CARY

      43,858

94,536

50,678

115.55%

5,068

7.98%

FUQUAY-VARINA

        4,562

7,898

3,336

73.13%

334

5.64%

GARNER

14,967

17,757

2,790

18.64%

279

1.72%

HOLLY SPRINGS

908

9,192

8,284

912.33%

828

26.05%

KNIGHTDALE

1,884

5,958

4,074

216.24%

407

12.20%

MORRISVILLE

1,022

5,208

4,186

409.59%

419

17.69%

RALEIGH

207,951

276,093

68,142

32.77%

6,814

2.87%

ROLESVILLE

572

907

335

58.57%

34

4.72%

WAKE FOREST

5,769

12,588

6,819

118.20%

682

8.11%

WENDELL

2,822

4,247

1,425

50.50%

143

4.17%

ZEBULON

3,173

4,046

873

27.51%

87

2.46%

UNINCORPORATED

130,924

169,204

38,280

29.24%

3,828

2.60%

TOTAL

(WAKE COUNTY)

423,380

627,846

204,466

48.29%

20,447

4.02%

 

Wake County is characterized by rapid growth in all of its municipalities with an overall growth rate of 49.6% compared to North Carolina’s rate of 22%.  The growth has come from a high net in-migration rate of 35.3% and a high birth rate related to the large number of young working families in the area (NC Office of State Planning,). Wake County’s population is currently 680,571     and is projected to increase to 777,364 by the year 2010.

 

 Raleigh, the state capital, is the largest city in Wake County (311,053) and has grown by 33.9% from 1990-2000.  Wake County will continue to grow in disproportionate patterns depending on geographic location.  The populations of Apex, Cary, Garner, Knightdale, Morrisville, and Raleigh are expected to increase at higher rates. 

 

THE CASE FOR WAKE COUNTY’S PLAN

 

Current realities for low-income families in wake county

Ranking among the top ten fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country, Wake County has seen it’s economic prosperity impacted by a decline in the computer networking industry to more service industry hiring.  The unemployment rate has risen from 3.4% in August 2004 to 3.7% in July 2006. 

 

As of September 1, 2006, the average Work First cash assistance payment was $211.73 per month.  The Wake County Work First Program serves 1,534 households comprising 2,814 individuals.  Of these cases, 1,014 are child-only households and 499 are Work First Family Assistance (WFFA) households, i.e., households in which the single adult has an employment obligation. There are an additional 21 families that have both parents in the home. (September 1, 2006 Work First Caseload Profile Summary – Wake County). 

On a broader scale, local advocates for low-income citizens have noted, “the working poor are laboring harder and longer than ever before just to get by.” (Income Disparity Results in Two North Carolinas; Associated Press, May 2000). 

 

The Community Assessment of Wake County as prepared by the Triangle United Way and Wake County Human Services, reports that, “although Wake County residents as a whole are financially secure, certain areas have substantial need.  Pockets of poverty are scattered among the numerous suburbs of wealth located throughout the County”.  The highest concentration of low-income households is in Holly Springs, Willow Springs, Zebulon, and Raleigh (Central & East).   Other indicators of need in the community are the numbers of people who rely on Food Stamps and Medicaid.  In Wake County these are:

 

Program

Total Recipients

% Wake County Pop.

Work First

  3,538*

1%

Food Stamps

45,643**

6%

Medicaid

46,313***

6%

*Eligibility Information Report Percent of Work First cases as of September 1, 2006

** Food Stamp Report as September 1, 2006 NC Data Warehouse Statistical Report

*** Adult and Family Medicaid Recipient Counts in Wake County as of August 31, 2006

 

High Cost of Living in Wake County

 

The N.C. Justice and Community Development Center in Raleigh reported the 2005 North Carolina Living Income Standard for Wake County.  The chart below indicates the amount of money needed to meet basic needs for a family of one adult, an infant and a preschooler:

 

Basic Needs

Monthly Expenses

Housing

$796

Food

$359

Childcare

$1,195

Transportation

$349

Health Care

$319

Miscellaneous

$358

Taxes

$589

 

 

Total monthly expenses

$3,965

Living Standard Income Wage

$22.00

 

Tax burden and tax credits are included.  (N.C. Justice and Community Development Center, Raleigh).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pressing problems: identified barriers to self-sufficiency in wake county

 

Affordable Housing

 

The greatest housing need in Wake County is for individuals and families earning less than $30,000 a year. This includes the thousands of service workers, including Work First families, earning from $5 to $10 per hour.  The fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $817, and for a 3-bedroom apartment it rises to $1,027.  Although the overall apartment vacancy rate in Wake County is currently 7.2%, lower than it has been in recent years, the vacancy rate for affordable apartments average 0-3%.

 

Approximately 34% of all households in Wake County are classified as renters.  A typical two-bedroom market rate apartment averaged $461 in 1990, $725 in 1998, and $817 in 2005, a 13% increase between 1998 and 2005.  In order to afford a market rate apartment in Wake County, a household must earn $32,680 annually or $15.71 per hour for a 40-hour work week (Out of Reach 2005, NLIHC).  For those who earn less than $15.71/hour, there are limited options.  The 2003 Housing Affordability Task Force Report shows that there is a need for over 25,000 units of affordable rental housing for low and moderate-income families, those earning less than $30,000/year.  This need is expected to increase to almost 30,000 units by 2007.

 

The waiting list for public housing units and vouchers remains long.  The Housing Authority of Wake County reports 171 families on its waiting list for a Section 8 Voucher (193 total vouchers).  This translates to an average wait of five or six years, once on the waiting list.  The Authority also reports 921 families on the waiting list for a public housing unit (343 total units).  This translates into an average wait of one to two years, once on the waiting list.  The vacancy rate for private apartments serving this segment of the population is zero (all developments surveyed had waiting lists of various lengths). 

 

The Raleigh Housing Authority reports even longer waiting lists: 2,000 families are waiting for a public housing unit (1,615 total units – some families are on both Housing Authority waiting lists). This translates to wait that ranges from six months to over one year, depending on a family’s location preference.  The Authority reports over 5,300 families on the waiting list for a Section 8 Voucher (3,537 total vouchers).  This translates to an average wait of three to five years.  These examples clearly illustrate that the demand for affordable rental units exceeds the supply of affordable units.

 

Home ownership is problematic for low and moderate-income families in Wake County. The price of home ownership has increased significantly. In 2000, the median home sales price in Wake County was $162,000.  In 2002, it was $168,000, an increase of 4%.  In 2007, the median sales price is expected to rise to $194,629.  A moderate-income family of four earning $57,300 can afford to purchase a home costing approximately $130,000.  This means that persons earning less than 80% of median family income may have a difficult time becoming homeowners.  In 1990, home sales in Wake County totaled 8,607; of those, 5,551, or 65% were considered affordable at prices below $120,000.  In 2000, of the 18,280 total sales, 4,066, or 23% were priced below $120,000.  In 2002, out of 18,702 total sales, 3,492, or 19% were considered affordable.  The trend continues to keep low-wage and service workers from being homeowners in Wake County.

 

More than 3,300 persons, including more than 700 children, are homeless during the course of a year in Raleigh.  On just one night, January 25, 2006, 981 persons were homeless according to most recent Point-in-Time Count conducted by the Wake Continuum of Care.  Based on a month-long survey of providers conducted in January of 2005, an additional 15,000 people were estimated to be living “doubled up” with other families because they could not find housing. 

 

Transportation

The Capital Area Transit Authority (CAT buses and CAT connectors) serves the City of Raleigh and the Triangle Transit Authority (TTA) serves the greater Triangle.  Over 433 private transportation providers, including shuttle services, taxicab companies and other transportation vendors such as Wake Coordinated Transportation, operate in Wake County. 

 

Despite these services, the most recent Community Assessment Report for Wake County found: 

 

“Public transportation in Wake County is inadequate.  People unable to own and operate cars find transportation a serious impediment to maintaining a job, securing childcare, acquiring training, and obtaining medical care and other human services.”

 

“Wake County lacks adequate public transportation.  Several parts of the county offer no public transportation at all.  While over half the county’s population lives outside the city limits, fixed route, public transportation is only available in the city of Raleigh.”  

 

The geographical distance between residential communities and employment opportunities exacerbates the transportation problems of Work First families.  Additional problems include accessibility to reliable transportation and the high costs associated with transportation. 

 

Childcare

 

Childcare is a concern for all working families in Wake County. The need for childcare has grown as the number of single-parent households and working mothers has increased (Welfare Information Network, September 2000).  Studies have consistently found that the cost of childcare affects a mother’s decision to work (Lemke et al., 2000; and Ross and Paulsell, 1998).

 

The Wake County Child Care Subsidy Program reports that there are 281 licensed daycare centers and 321 registered family childcare home facilities with possible spaces in Wake County (NC DHHS DCD, 2002).  There are 602 regulated day care facilities in Wake County.

 

Lack of affordable childcare is a primary barrier to employment for many families.  This problem stems from several factors:

 

Ø      Wake County’s rapid growth has outstripped the capacity of the childcare system to        provide quality daycare slots that are available to low-income families.

 

Ø      Childcare costs in Wake County are prohibitive.  The average rate for child daycare subsidy is $488 per month, based on the combined monthly averages of childcare centers and family childcare homes in Wake County.

 

Preschool childcare needs are very apparent, but childcare for school-age children is also an area of need due to teacher workdays, holidays, summer school vacation and the need for sick care. As many of the elementary schools and middle schools transition to year round schedules, there is a growing need for track out care for students.  WCHS is working with city Parks and Recreations within municipalities, Boys and Girls Club, WCPSS, Child Care Services Association and 4-H to develop additional track-out programs.  In Wake County, it is a challenge to find drop-in childcare services, respite care for children with special needs, and childcare for parents working second, third or weekend shifts.

 

In Wake County, 8,332 children received subsidized childcare during the fiscal year 2005-2006. (WCHS Child Day Care Unit Monthly Report May 2006).  Of these, 10% were part of the Work First All Family caseload.  This reflects a 6% decrease from the figures reported in 2002.

 

The fastest growing sub-population of income eligible families receiving subsidized child daycare in Wake County is families that fall into the 200% of federal poverty income levels.  As opposed to unlicensed home daycare, 99% of children using childcare subsidies were enrolled in licensed facilities as of May 2006. 

 

Flexible childcare and after-school programs for older children are two important unmet needs in Wake County.  After-school programs for middle-school children and teens may offer an opportunity to reduce the number of youth engaging in high-risk activities (Wake County: Support Our Students, 1998).

 

Wake County Human Services has streamlined the childcare application process.  Employment Counselors refer Work First participants to the Childcare Unit for assistance.  The Childcare Case Manager takes applications for subsidized childcare by appointment unless the participant has an “emergency” need for childcare. Those participants needing   immediate childcare are seen on an as-needed basis.

 

Due to demand and available funding, WCHS has a waiting list.  At the time of this report there are 3,400 children on the list.  With present budget restraints, it is believed that the waiting time for child- care subsidy will continue unless local funding can be obtained. 

 

PRIORIZATION OF CHILDCARE FUNDS

 

Priority is given to Child Protective Services, Foster Care, Work First and teen parents who are in school. All other applicants must be put on the waiting list. The priorities for Work First families are:

 

·        Work First Family Assistance Recipients who are employed (TANF)

·        Families participating in Work First employment services (short-term, work-related activities)

·        Families who have used diversion benefits and for whom childcare is an essential part of the diversion

·        Employed Work First families whose cash assistance (WFFA payment) is ending and childcare is needed to continue employment and then move toward self-sufficiency.

 
Lack of Education and Training

A review of the literature suggests a significant link exists between family income and education.  Those individuals without a sufficient level of education or training often find it difficult to earn livable wages base on the types of jobs for which they qualify.  While over 85% of Wake County’s adults over the age of 25 have a high school education or GED, only 20% of Work First custodial parents under the age of 24 have a high school education or are continuing high school studies. 

 

Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

The Wake County Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD) Plan defines substance abuse as the illegal, harmful or dangerous use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. 

 

Substance abuse in Wake County, as well as nationally, is a major health problem that crosses all economic lines and takes a variety of forms.  It is estimated that 9.8% of the population in Wake County and in the state is addicted to alcohol or drugs (Alcohol/Drug Council of NC, 1996). 

 

The Community Assessment Report for Wake County notes: 

 

“that alcohol and drug abuse take a tremendous toll physically, emotionally, and financially, not only on those who misuse them, but on their loved ones and the wider community.  Domestic abuse, homelessness, job performance, physical health, mental health, violence, and the public’s safety are all impacted.”

 

Thus, it should not be surprising that, in the last two community surveys conducted by Triangle United Way, citizens identified substance abuse as their number one concern (Wake County ATOD Plan, September 1999). 

 

Substance abuse and mental illness are significant issues for Work First families. The Work First Program includes a full-time Mental Health Clinician, two full-time Substance Abuse Counselors, and one part-time Psychiatrist.  Based on their assessments and feedback from all Work First staff, the prevalence of mental illness and substance abuse problems are estimated to be:

 

Clinical Depression………………………………………………………………..…..30%

Substance Abuse…………………………………………………………………...35-50%

Other severe mental or emotional problems…………………………………… ..15 –20%

 

These estimates are supported by a study, “Welfare Reform, Substance Abuse and Mental Health.”  The study found that one in five welfare participants reported experiencing one of four psychiatric disorders (major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic attack and agoraphobia) compared to only 13% among single moms in general (NC Community News Update, September 25,2000: Study of Welfare Participants and Psychiatric Disorders).  

 

The levels of substance abuse and mental illness among Work First families are historically under-reported. It is suspected that substance abuse problems and mental health problems are disproportionately higher than in the general population and point to the depth of the problems faced by many Work First families.  

 

Domestic Violence

As with substance abuse and mental illness, domestic violence disrupts the Work First families’ abilities to stabilize and become self-sufficient. National studies conducted over the last twenty years have consistently shown that between 25-30% of households in this country report having experienced an incident of domestic violence.  Interact, a local non-profit agency, served an average of 3,129 domestic violence victims in FY 05-06.  Interact provided shelter for 171 people and to over 11,000 services for impacted families during this same period. Despite these facts, the issue of domestic violence continues to be an under-reported stressor, which affects Wake County families, including Wake County Work First families.  The DV in the Workplace Summit of 2004 estimated that 24% - 50% of domestic violence victims lose their jobs because of abuse             

 

Key Issues Addressed by the Plan

Responding to the Changing Work First Caseload

What is not widely known is that less than 1% of Wake County’s population receives Work First cash assistance. Another little known fact is that the average Work First family receives cash assistance for six months or less.  As of September 1, 2006, the average Work First cash assistance payment was $211.73 per month.  The Wake County Work First Program serves 1,534 households comprising 2,814 individuals.  Of these, 1,014 are child-only households and 499 are Work First Family Assistance (WFFA) households, in which the adults have an employment obligation.  There are an additional 21 families with both parents in the home who also have an employment obligation (September 1, 2006 Work First Caseload Report – Wake County). 

 

The Work First caseload is comprised of three sub groups:

·        All Family Caseload (Employment obligated WFFA households)

·        Child-Only Caseload

·        Two Parent Caseload (Employment obligated WFFA households)

Wake County has seen the Work First caseload decrease.  This decrease is seen in all of the sub groups, with largest decrease in the All Family Caseload. 

Next Generation strives to serve 14 and 15 youth at risk of dropping out of school.  The goal is to prevent these youth from dropping out of school, expose them to the benefits of furthering their education, develop life skills through workshops, mentoring and tutoring through existing community resources and the faith community.  Financial incentives are provided for maintaining good grades.  Wake County’s Extension Services has established an after school program designed to work with at-risk children which includes children of Work First households as well as children in families whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

Statement of Principles

Wake County’s Work First Program is built on the premise that all parents have a responsibility to work and provide for their children to the best of their ability.

In support of this mission, the Wake County Work First Program emphasizes personal responsibility and focuses on employment as the most practical means to achieve economic self-sufficiency.  Consequently, providing Work First families with the training, support and skills needed to obtain and maintain employment remains a key service focus.

The following five principles and twelve outcomes of Wake County Human Services clearly support the guiding philosophy of the Work First Program:

Principles

Ø            Community-based

Ø            Family-centered

Ø            Culturally-competent

Ø            Prevention-focused

Ø            Outcome-driven

 

Outcomes

1.               Women and families will have healthy, planned births

2.               Families will support their children’s successful development

3.               Children will be ready for school

4.               Children and youth will be successful in school

5.               Youth will make healthy decisions

6.               Children and vulnerable adults will not experience abuse or neglect

7.               Children removed from their parents will have a permanent home

8.               The elderly and individuals with severe, chronic disabilities will live as independently as possible

9.               Parents will financially and medically support their minor children

10.            People will find and maintain employment

11.            People will have safe, affordable housing

12.            Individuals, families, and communities will have improved physical and behavioral health

 

Actions to Reach the Vision

Building successful partnerships within the community is critical to the success of Work First in Wake County.  Because Work First participants often face multiple barriers to employment, such as lack of transportation or childcare, new partnerships will be developed to provide assistance and support outside the work setting.  Of specific concern is providing intensive, family-centered services, which support job retention and increase income for Work First families. 

 

Another key action step is the broadening of support services available to Work First families and those working families who meet 200% of poverty guidelines.  Such examples include the continuation of intensive Family Support Services for Child Only Cases and the development of after-school programs, which provide needed supervision for children at risk. 

 

WAKE COUNTY ECONOMIC CONDITIONS

 

Current Conditions

Wake County has seen its’ unemployment rate increase from 3.4% at the end of August 2004 to 3.7% at the end of July 2006.  As of December 2005 there were 14,192 unemployed people in Wake County.   The average hourly wage for Wake County Work First participants is $8.12, up from $7.49 in 2004.  Average hours worked per week rose from 33.49 hours to 33.76 hours, below the 2002 level of 38 hours worked per week.

 

Layoffs and Business Closings

In the past, Wake County and parts of the Research Triangle region had been one of the top ten metropolitan areas in the nation for economic growth.  The Employment Security Commission of North Carolina reports that during the first eight months of 2006, there have been 83 business closings affecting 1466 people and 14 companies have had layoffs affecting 396 people in Wake County.

 

Job Availability

Wake County has seen a slight increase in unemployment since August 2004 when the unemployment rate for Wake County was at 3.4%.  As of July 2006, the unemployment rate for Wake County had risen to 3.7%(Employment Security Commission of NC; July 2006).

 

Workforce by Industry 2nd Quarter 2001

Type
Workforce
Percent
Average Weekly County Earnings
Average Weekly State Earnings
Agriculture
    6,334
  1.6%
   $452.06
$416.35
Construction
  28,801
  7.4%
   $676.57
$598.43
Finance/Insurance/Real Estate
  20,386
  5.2%
   $885.63
$907.31
Government
  68,616
17.6%
   $712.91
$622.30
Manufacturing
  29,455
  7.6%
   $880.81
$716.21
Retail Trade
  70,959
18.2%
   $381.08
$336.04
Wholesale Trade
  22,494
  5.8%
   $1,007.94
$783.87
Service
117,781
30.2%
   $ 698.68
$580.23
Transportation/Communications/Public Utilities
  24,673
  6.3%
   $900.87
$775.01

 

 

Largest Employers – Raleigh/Wake County, Research Triangle Park & Surrounding Region –Raleigh Chamber of Commerce – Company Survey 2001

State of North Carolina (Region-Wide

23,539

Wake County Public School System

16,000

North Carolina State University

7,787

Wake Med

6,739

Glaxo Smithkline, Inc. (Durham & Wake)

6,000

Wal-Mart (Region-wide)

4,750

SAS Institute, Inc.

 4,228

Food Lion Stores (Region –Wide)

 4,000

Rex Health Care

 3,870

Progress Energy (Person & Wake)

 3,400

 
Projected conditions

 

Population and Wages

Wake County’s population census and projections for growth are listed below:

 

1990

2000

2010

% Growth

1990-2000

% Net Migration

% Projected Growth

2000 - 2010

426,301

606,403

777,346

42.2

31.1

28.8

(Source: Combined Tables from The 1999-2000 Economy & Business Report-Raleigh/Wake County)

 

According to the 2000 census, the median income of households in Wake County was $54,541.  Wake County’s per capita average personal income of $36,581 is well above the state average of $27,418 and ranks second in the state behind Mecklenburg County.  The average wage is about $17.28 per hour, well above the state average wage of $13.19 (North Carolina Department of Commerce, 1999a).  

 

In FY 05-06, the average hourly wage for Work First participants was $7.49.  This average hourly wage remains well below the County and State wage averages for the general population.

 
Industry and Employment

Wake County features a diverse employment base with the largest sectors being: services, 30.2%; trade, 18.2%; government, 17.6%; manufacturing, 7.6% and construction, 7.4%.  (September 2002, Wake County Scan, North Carolina Department of Commerce). It is projected that the service and retail trade industries will continue to experience the greatest growth over the next 10 to 15 years. 

 

 

PLANNING PROCESS

 

As with the planning process for Wake County’s initial Work First Plan, Wake County views the development of its Work First Plan FFY 2005 and 2007 as part of an ongoing, inclusive process which involves community leaders, professional service providers, service recipients, advocates, local school representatives, the business community, and community-based organizations with experience in serving low-income families.  

 

Specific to the Wake County planning process is the involvement of the following:

 

Ø        Wake County Board of County Commissioners

Ø        Wake County Human Services Board

Ø        Wake County Work First Steering Committee

Ø        Wake County Business Advisory Council

Ø        Focus Groups involving Work First Recipients

 

In September 2006, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to administer the Wake County Work First Program as a “Standard” county.  As a standard county, the eligibility criteria and payment methodology of Work First Family Assistance has been established by the North Carolina Department of Health And Human Services (DHHS).

 

The Wake County Commissioners designated the Wake County Human Services Board as its planning body.  The Human Services Board directed staff to organize the planning efforts.  As part of this planning process, the Work First Steering Committee has been charged with reviewing and updating the strategic interventions of Wake County’s Work First Plan for FFY 05-07.  In addition, the County’s Work First Plan is reviewed by the Wake Area Business Advisory Council. 

 

Wake County’s Work First Plan is reviewed by the Wake County Human Services Executive Management Team and the Executive Committee of the Human Services Board.  The plan is then presented, reviewed, and endorsed by the full Wake County Human Services Board.  The plan is then forwarded under recommendation to the Wake County Board of Commissioners for approval.    

 

The County’s Work First Plan will be submitted to the NC Department of Health and Human Services by the requested deadline after approval by the Wake County Board of Commissioners. 

 

WAKE COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES BOARD

 

As the designated agency responsible for Work First planning, the Human Services Board represents a broad spectrum of the community – professionals, business representatives, private citizens, and consumers.  The Wake County Work First Steering Committee brings together representatives who are more familiar with the day-to-day operations of the County’s Work First Program.

 

 

WORK FIRST STEERING COMMITTEE AND WAKE AREA BUSINESS ADVISORY COUNCIL

 

The Wake County Work First Steering Committee was formed as the result of being a designated focus area of the 1998 Wide-A-Wake Community Forum.  This committee meets monthly and is charged with reviewing the strategies for the Wake County Work First Plan.  The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from the Faith Community, Business Community, Legal Services, Educational Community, For-profit and Non-profit Service Agencies, as well as private citizens.  The membership and affiliations of the Work First Steering Committee members are listed on page 7.

 

Established in 1997, the Wake Area Business Advisory Council (BAC) represents a partnership that promotes employment as a means to economic self-sufficiency and personal responsibility.  The Wake Area BAC is comprised of local representatives from business, vocational and civic organizations who are interested in improving the workforce in Wake County.

 

PUBLIC AND STAFF REVIEW

 

The Human Services Board sought comment on the plan from the public and staff through several different forums: 

 

·        Reviewed the plan with the Wake County Area Business Advisory Council

·        Posted the plan on the Wake County Human Services electronic bulletin board

·        Placed the plan in waiting areas of the Work First Program (Swinburne Building, Southern Regional Center, and Eastern Regional Center)

·        Conducted a focus group with a Work First Human Resource Development class.

 

OTHER PLANNING EFFORTS

 

The Human Services agency will continue to involve the Wake County Work First Steering Committee in revising, updating, and implementing the local plan after the plan is submitted to DHHS.

 

OUTCOMES AND GOALS FOR THE COUNTY

 

FRAMING THE GOALS

 

The numbers of the wake county work first program

According to the September 1, 2006, TANF caseload profile 6,155 individuals in 2,764 households receive benefits from the Wake County Work First Program.  This represents less than 1% of an estimated county population.  Of the 1,569 cases, 1,014 are child-only cases and these cases do not have the employment requirement of the Work First Program. 

 

Statistically, the typical Work First family in Wake County:

·        Consists of a single, African-American mother who is 24 years or younger with one child age 6 or under 

 

·        Receives an average Work First cash assistance payment of $211.73 per month (September 2006)

·        Receives cash assistance for six months.

 

The dynamics of the wake county work first program

Over an eight-year period the total number of Work First cases in Wake County has decreased from 5,025 to 1,569; this represents a 69% reduction in caseload.  Despite continued population growth, Wake County’s Work First caseload has steadily decreased.  Work First caseloads are impacted by the state of the local economy. 

 

Mo/Yr

7/96*

7/97

7/98

7/99

7/00

7/01

7/02

10/02

7/04

07/06

WF Cases

4,698

4,314

3,583

2,832

2,531

2,769

2,915

2,613

1,788

1,569

Wake County Unemployment Rate

2.2%

1.8%

1.7%

1.5%

1.7%

3.5%

5.6%

4.9%

3.7%

3.7%

 

Year

1996*

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2004

2006

Wake Pop.

537,950

556,713

575,122

592,218

627,846

655,642

678,651

725,902

777,346

* Work First began in July 1996.

 

 

The typical Work First family receives assistance for 6 months or less.  At the same time, there are families who have received assistance over a longer period.  The needs of the Work First family can vary.   The typical categories of needs are as follows:

 

Ø        Individuals who need assistance for a short period of time who move into sustained employment;

 

Ø        Individuals who, for a variety of reasons, fall into the category often referred to as the “Working Poor” (Income at 200% or below Federal Poverty Level);

 

Ø        Children living with a specified relative other than their parent(s), which make up the Child-Only Caseload.

 

 

PLANS TO ACHIEVE AND MEASURE THE OUTCOMES AND GOALS

 

STATEWIDE WORK FIRST GOALS

The goals are discussed below in conjunction with the plans to achieve them.

 

Putting adults to work

Goal:  Put 154 Work First participants to work during the FY 05-06.

 

Principles:  Focus service delivery on obtaining and maintaining employment.  Priorities for intensive services are single parents with less than 12 months remaining on their benefit’s time clock and families with two parents.  The employment efforts will be based on the collaboration of Wake County Human Services, services agencies, the business and faith community. 

 

Background:  Wake County has exceeded the state-established employment goal.  Wake County will continue to focus on job readiness, training, placement, and follow-along to ensure continued employment.

 

 

 

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies: 

 

Job Development

 

Ø        Continue to utilize existing resources in assisting Work First participants to obtain employment (e.g. Employment Security Commission, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Wake County JobLink Career Center).  Work First participants with special needs, such as homelessness, mental illness, or substance abuse problems will be referred to supportive services, housing specialist, substance abuse counselors and mental health clinician for counseling.

 

Ø        JobLink –Utilize the on-line employment database called JobLink Online which is a user-friendly listing of job leads that can be assessed via the Internet by employers (to post their job openings) and job-seekers.  The service is also available to Hispanic job seekers via Latino JobLink On-Line.  Wake Area Business Advisory Council members regularly post their job vacancies through this free service.

 

Ø        Approach job development and employment placement on both the individual and corporate levels.  Work closely with the Wake County Area Business Advisory Council, the Capital Area Work Force Development Board, and the Raleigh/Wake County Human Resource Management Association.  Continue affiliation with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to expand employment networks, strengthen the Wake Area Business Advisory Council, and increase employment opportunities for Work First participants that pay a “living wage” with health benefits.

 

Ø        Explore opportunities for small business development by collaborating with the NC Coalition of Minorities for Economic Development, Wake Technical Community College and other agencies.

 

Ø        In cooperation with the JobLink Career Center - Swinburne, continue to participate in “business days” on a monthly basis, which will allow employers to interview Work First participants on-site.  Participate in monthly Job-seeking Skills Workshops hosted by JobLink and facilitated by BAC members.  Participate in other community job fairs (e.g., Balancing Life: Creating a New Career strategy; Eastern Wake Employment Expo.

 

Ø        Promote the utilization of JobLink On-Line for rapid dissemination of job leads

       (www.joblinkcc.com).

 

Ø        Work First employment counselors will continue to provide individualized career counseling, skills training, vocational testing, job development and placement, and short-term follow-along with participants and employers on an as needed basis. 

 

The role of the Work First employment counselor will also include long-term follow-along and the development of natural supports to assist in job retention. 

 

Ø        Provide intensive job placement services for prioritized Work First participants:

·     Two parent households

·     One parent households with 12 months or more on their Work First time clock with special focus on those Work First families who have been identified as participants for “Success for Work First Families at Risk”

 

Ø        Promote the Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit for new hires, who are employed 400 or more hours or 180 days. This tax credit allows up to 35% of qualified wages for the first year of employment and 50% for the second year. The new hires must be long-term welfare recipients, or members of a family that received Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) or Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) for at least the 18 consecutive months before the date of hire

 

Job Training, Job Retention Services and other Support Services for Work First Participants 

 

Ø        Continue partnerships with Wake Technical Community College, Raleigh Vocational Center and other private vendors to provide an array of educational and vocational training options.  These options will vary from vocational evaluation to occupational specific training and job placement

 

Ø        Work with the NC Department of Commerce and other vendors to promote the utilization of Individual Development Accounts (IDA) and Earned Income Tax Credits through educational workshops.  Continue to refer Work First participants to credit counseling and budget planning services for the purpose of developing personal financial skills

 

Ø        Continue to offer Supportive Employment/Work First Collaborative project which serves Work First participants who have a mental illness and need intensive employment services

 

Ø        Continue to offer an array of transportation assistance to Work First participants via funding support through the Work First Block Grant, NCDOT Work First Employment, and/or Elderly & Disabled Transportation Assistance Program  (EDTAP)  

 

Ø        During Work First orientation, the Earned Income Tax credit  (EITC) is reviewed and discussed with each Work First participant.  At this time, a W-5 Tax Form is given to the Work First participant 

 

Performance Measures:

The progress toward this goal is measured through the Eligibility Information System (EIS) Employment and Training Indicator. 

 

Wake County’s Work First goal was to place 154 Work First participants in employment in FY

05-06.  In order to meet this goal, Wake County’s Work First Program establishes higher

internal employment goals on a per team basis and measures achievement on a monthly basis.

The actual result was that 760 Work First participants gained employment.

 

Staying off welfare after going to work

Goal:   90% of Wake County’s Work First participants who enter employment will stay off welfare for 12 months after going to work.  The actual result for FY ‘05-‘06 was that 97% of Work First participants who gained employment stayed off welfare.

 

Principles:  The longer a family remains off welfare after leaving for work, the more likely it is that they will remain off welfare.  In some cases, job retention services or follow-up services may be needed to maintain employment.  Employment activities will emphasize employment options which pay a living wage and career advancement opportunities whenever possible. 

 

Background:  Wake County has exceeded state-established job retention goals for helping families stay off welfare after going to work.  Often TANF applications are from individuals, who were once in the welfare system, who found a job, left the system, have now lost their employment or source of income, and have reapplied for benefits.  Wake County will seek to reduce the recidivism rate by helping people maintain their employment.  Wake County Human Services recognizes that this will be a significant challenge and will need to develop a service system which supports people as they move toward self-sufficiency. 

 

Ø        Provide workshops and other training opportunities that focus on financial literacy.   Such training focuses on setting financial goals and priorities, examining personal/family spending habits, establishing and maintaining good credit and identifying resources in their community.  

 

Ø        The Earned Income Tax Credit offers a tax break for qualifying individuals who have earned income from employment or self-employment. This allows qualifying workers to take home as much as $100.00 a month more in earnings, but at no extra cost to the employer.  An Earned Income Tax Credit brochure and the Form W-5 are given to Work First participants at orientation and are also available through the Work First case manager.

 

Ø        Advise Work First customers of the Earned Income Tax Credit Advance Payment program. The advance allows the qualifying individual to receive up to 50% of the total amount for which they are eligible pro-rated monthly.  This gives the employee more spendable income.  The other 50% is received through the filing of their income tax at the end of the year.

 

Ø        Explore establishing a collaborative partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in which an IRS Representative will provide on-going informational workshops regarding use of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other tax incentive programs.

 

Ø        The case manager/employment worker will refer, when needed, families to the child welfare-family support staff to help the family unit remain together and to develop adaptive skills for parenting.

 

Ø        Employment retention strategies may include referrals for substance abuse treatment and mental health services.  Additional retention strategies involve opportunities for mentoring support (i.e. NC Vocational Rehabilitation Services/Vista Mentoring Project).       

 

Ø        Promote the integration of the JobLink Career Center - Swinburne for possible career advancement opportunities.

 

Ø        Promote the utilization of 200% services that would enhance job retention.

 

Performance Measures: The State’s report reflects “staying off welfare after going to work” as a measure of families who have obtained employment and who are not reported as “active” Work First participants.  However, this measure does not directly correlate to job retention since this measure does not capture or track continuous employment.

 

On a long-term basis, the Employment Security Commission may be able to provide a more accurate picture of job retention by tracking employment status and months worked. 

 

Meeting the “all parent” all family participation rate

Goal:   MeetAll Parent” participation rate of 50%. 

 

Principles:  Active participation in employment services and activities will lead to full-time employment. 

 

Background:  Families who have been identified as having used twelve months on their 24-month time clock or 36 months on their 60-month time clock will be designated as priority for intensive employment services. 

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  All Family caseload, with an able-bodied adult, receiving case management services through the partnership of an employment counselor and case manager.  In order to meet participation rate and ensure the success of the family, the Work First participant must be actively involved in vocational training or employment services that will lead to full-time employment.  

 

Performance Measures: 

Ø      Within 12 weeks of approval for Work First Family Assistance, adults with an employment obligation will be employed or in short-term training leading to employment

 

Ø      90% of all participants placed on the job will maintain employment for at least 12 months (Wake County’s internal goal is to have 95% of families remaining employed)

 

Ø      After 12 weeks new mothers will receive intense employment services to encourage short-term training or employment to support their family. 

 

 

Meeting the “two parent” participation rate

Goal:  Meeting the “Two Parent” participation rate of 90%.

 

Principles:  Active participation in employment services and activities will lead to full-time employment.  Promotion of two-parent households.

 

Background:  To achieve the participation rate of 90%, families are assessed on the day of application.  At the time of assessment, referrals are made to First Stop, JobLink and other employment resources.  As of September 1, 2006, Wake County had 21 active “two-parent” households. 

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  Two-Parent households are a service priority and receive intensive employment services.  The Two-Parent households are in a specialized caseload and are receiving case management services through the partnership of an employment counselor and case manager.  

 

Two-parent households will be identified as a service priority for intensive employment services provided by a Work First job counselor.  Intensive employment services are individualized and focus on family and vocational assessment, job development and placement. 

 

The Work First employment counselor will provide long-term follow-along support on a case-by-case basis in order to help develop natural supports for the Work First family in the community. 

 

Performance Measures: 

Ø      90% of the adults in the two-parent families will either be employed or in short-term training leading to employment 

 

Ø      90% of all participants placed on the job will maintain employment for at least 12 months. (Wake County’s internal goal is to have 95% of families remaining employed)

 

Avoiding welfare through benefit diversion

Goal:  478 Families will receive Benefit Diversion Assistance. 

 

Principles: Early intervention can promote family stability and assist families coping with emergencies and financial crisis.  Eligible families may receive up to three months assistance in cash, Medicaid, Food Stamps and, in some instances, childcare. Benefit Diversion Assistance helps the family obtain and maintain employment and avoid the risk of losing their employment.  

 

Background:  Under the guidance of the NC Department of Health & Human Services, Wake County Human Services established a diversion program to help families in crisis stay off welfare. 

 

During FY 05-06, 571 Wake County families received benefit diversion assistance in order to stay off of the welfare system. 

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  Wake County Human Services will continue to apply Benefit Diversion when applicable.  All Two-Parent applicants are assessed for Benefit Diversion.  An Employment Counselor conducts assessments before a Work First application is taken. 

 

 

Performance Measures: 

Ø      Increase use of Work First support services families to eliminate or alleviate crises

 

Providing Employment Services

Goal:  Provide intense employment services for 80% of All-Parent cases and 100% intense employment services for Two-Parent cases. 

 

Principles:  Providing intense employment services for families helps to stabilize the family situation and leads to early employment and conservation of time on both the 24 Month and 60 Month Time Clocks.  The families progress toward economic self sufficiency is enhanced by providing services such as a complete family assessment, mental health counseling, short term training, supportive employment, day care and transportation services to list a few of the services

available to families.

 

Background:  Wake County has consistently exceeded the 80% of All-Parent cases goal and as of June 2006 had an average year to date rate of 96.92%. Wake County’s Two - Parent average rate for the same period was 96.15%.  Both rates exceeded the State Average for the same period.

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  Wake County Human Services will use primarily the Work First staff to achieve this goal but will also work with community partners and contract agencies to provide family assessment, training, job search, counseling, transportation and day care services as needed.

 

Performance Measures:

Ø      Increase the number of Two-Parent families receiving employment services to 100%

Ø      Continue to increase the All-Parent families beyond the 80% requirement to 100% of able-bodied families. 

Ø      Assist families with disabilities to get approval for SSI or other disability payments.

 

Employed 6 Months After Leaving Work First

Goal:  60% of families leaving Work First will remain employed after 6 months. 

 

Principles:  A family that continues to be employed after 6 months is likely to continue employment and to have a better chance of moving up the wage progression ladder.  The families overall stability is improved by continued employment.

 

Background:  Wake County has consistently exceeded the goal of 60% and the YTD average for June 2006 was 72.87%

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  Wake County continues to provide day care, Food Stamps, Medicaid, follow–up and other services to enhance the families ability to remain employed.  Community Partners and family supports are developed to provide the family with coping skills to prevent job loss in a crisis.

 

 

Performance Measures:

Ø      Continue to provide supportive services that will enable families to continue employment.

Ø      Increase the frequency of follow-up contacts to prevent job loss.

Ø      Encourage continued training and education to improve wage progression.  

 

 

Employed 12-Months After Leaving Work First

Goal: 50% of families leaving Work First will remain employed after 12 months.

Principles:  A family that continues to be employed after 12 months is likely to continue employment and to have a better chance of moving up the wage progression ladder.  The families overall stability is improved by continued employment.

 

Background:  Information is unavailable to determine success of this goal.

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  Wake County continues to provide day care, Food Stamps, Medicaid, follow–along and other services to enhance the families ability to remain employed.  Community Partners and family supports are developed to provide the family with coping skills to prevent job loss in a crisis.

 

Performance Measures:

Ø      Continue to provide supportive services that will enable families to continue employment.

Ø      Increase the frequency of follow-up contacts to prevent job loss.

Ø      Encourage continued training and education to improve wage progression.  

 

 

Wake County’s Exemptions Policy For Single Custodial Parents of A Child Under The Age of One

 

The “S” code provision allows the mother of a child under the age 1 to be exempt from the 24-month time clock for 1 year to stay at home with her child.  While this is a once in a life - time exemption, it is a year when the time continues to click off the 60-month life time clock. During the year the payee would not receive employment or training services to prepare for the long - term outcome of economic self-sufficiency for her family.

 

Wake County’s policy allows a 12-week “S” code exemption.  This brings the policy more in line with maternity leave provided to the general working public.  Two exceptions to this policy are if the County cannot provide adequate day care or the child’s health necessitates the mother being at home.  If either of these two situations occurred the “S” code exemption would continue until adequate day care could be provided or the child’s health improved.

 

The limit of 12 weeks would allow the mother to pursue employment or short - term training leading to employment. Work First staff would provide intense employment services for the family including but not limited to training, counseling on budgeting, mental health services, domestic violence, substance abuse, day care, transportation and vocational testing.

 

Wake County Work First Goals

In addition to meeting the Work First goals established by the NC Division of Social Services, the Wake County Work First Program has established the following goals: 

 

Child Well Being

Goals:

a)      Ensure home stability for child placement – (Child-Only family assessments)

b)      Prevent and reduce unwanted and/or out-of-wedlock pregnancies (TANF GOAL) 

c)      Children in Work First families will have opportunities for after-school programming and

      youth enrichment activities (NC Cooperative Extension)

 

Principles:  Work First Policy requires the assessment of child placement with regard to home stability.  Child-Only assessments strengthen families, prevent child abuse and protect children who are at risk or in a crisis situation.  

 

Background:  In FY 99-00, the WCHS Family Support Unit was established to conduct Child-Only family assessments.  

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:

Ø        Work First family assessments are to be completed on all applicants and families seeking employment or short-term training.  The assessment provides information for planning and referrals to further stabilize the family structure. Depending on service demand and/or funding availability, Work County seeks to serve families at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty standard who meet eligibility requirements and have a non-employment related need

 

Ø        All Work First applicants are screened for mental health and/or substance abuse problems at the time of application.  The substance abuse screenings are conducted by the Qualified Substance Abuse Professionals.  If the screening is positive, the QSAP will notify the case manager to complete a referral for the client to be further assessed for appropriate services. All positive mental health screenings will be referred to the Mental Health Clinician for assessment and treatment

 

Ø        Partner with North Carolina Cooperative Extension to provide after-school programming for at-risk children in order to prevent and/or reduce unwanted pregnancies.  In addition, Wake County Human Services in partnership with the NC Cooperative Extension Program will explore additional community-based programs which result in youth acquiring coping skills and making informed decisions 

 

Ø        Family Support Services of WCHS will provide “Child-Only” family assessments at the residence of the family.  Work First cases with 12-15 months left on their time clock and families with a history of Child Protective Services involvement will be targeted for “Child-Only” assessments.  The families of those children deemed at risk will receive supportive services that promote positive parenting and a stable home environment         

 

Ø        Wake County Human Services has established a collaborative partnership with the Wake County Public School System to assure that all children achieve proficiency grade level status at the end of 3rd and 7th grades

 

Ø        In order to establish healthcare coverage for children, Work First families and former Work First recipients will be encouraged to enroll in North Carolina Health Choice for children who are ineligible for Medicaid benefits

 

Ø        Direct Communication and information sharing on all shared cases between social workers in Child Welfare and Work First

 

Ø        Child Welfare and Work First will collaborate to ensure that child safety and Mutual Responsibility plans are in the best interest of the family

 

Ø        Work First will participate in Team meetings as appropriate for families served by Child Welfare

 

Performance Measures:

All Child-Only Work First families will be measured for “risk levels” for abuse, neglect, and/or

alternative residential placement through the standardized Family Risk Assessment Tool.  To ensure the safety of children who reside in kinship care arrangements, Work First case managers refer all Work First Child-Only relative cases to the Family Support Team for assessment.

The Family Support Specialist evaluates the child’s living situation to determine if the home is a safe and healthy environment for the child’s overall successful development.  An initial assessment will occur within the first six months of eligibility and annually thereafter.

 

The Family Support Specialist notifies the Work First Case Manager of the completion of the assessment and of any relevant eligibility information obtained. When concerns in the family are identified, the Family Support Specialist alone or in consultation with Work First Staff will arrange for supportive services to stabilize the situation.  The Family Support Specialist continues to monitor the situation and provides support as needed. In situations where the child’s safety is a concern and cannot be stabilized, intervention by Child Protective Services may occur.

 

BUILDING CAPACITIES IN WORK FIRST FAMILIES

a.  Promote educational success for Work First children

b. Encourage healthy choices and behaviors for Work First Families (adult & children).

 

Goal:  Work First children will receive tutorial and other supportive services to ensure grade level performance.  Work First families will be provided mentors and be involved in activities that promote restraint from abuse of substances and the involvement in activities that would hinder education and positive community involvement.

 

Principles:  Educational success will increase the ability of Work First families to become economically self-sufficient and have a positive role in their community.

 

Background:  Children in Work First families have performed below grade level on a continuous basis.  Work First families have traditionally had a higher rate of substance abuse.

 

Continue to provide an array of training options, job placement, and support services for work first families

Goal:   Work First participants will develop skills that allow them to become and remain employed, increase wage earnings, and become economically self-sufficient through employment.

 

Principles:  Assist Work First participants to become self-sufficient through employment.  Ongoing job development and the sharing of job contacts through the Job-Link On-Line is a performance expectation for all employees within Work First and Employment and Training Services. 

 

Background:  Maintaining the continued success of the Work First Program remains a top service priority of the Economic Self-Sufficiency Division and of Wake County Human Services. 

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:  These strategies are complimentary to those used to achieve the State goals noted above. 

 

Ø        As part of the Work First intake process, continue to screen and assess for substance abuse problems and/or mental illness 

 

Ø        The Work First assessment procedure includes First Stop registration with the Employment Security Commission.  During this process, work skills are assessed and the applicant is given an overview of existing work opportunities in the interest of helping the individual avoid becoming a Work First recipient.  As part of the assessment process the financial benefits associated with employment such as the Earned Income Tax Credit

(EITC) will be highlighted and compared to the income generated by Work First cash benefits alone 

 

Ø        Continue to partner with Wake Technical Community College and other private vendors to provide an array of vocational training options which vary from basic education to occupation-specific training 

 

Ø        Wake County Human Services continues to serve as a host site for JobLink Career Center - Swinburne and includes the following service agencies together at one location: N.C. Employment Security Commission; N.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Wake County Human Services (Workforce Investment Act, Work First, Supportive Employment; Working for Kids; PRO-Familia; Homeless Services); Wake County Public Schools; Community Partnerships, Inc.; N.C. Services Division of Services for the Blind and Wake Technical Community College (WTCC).  The Work First orientation process includes a tour and registration in the JobLink Career Center 

 

Ø        In addition to the JobLink Career Center, Wake County will seek to increase referrals to community resources such as:

·      Continue to offer STEPS/HRD classes and basic education workshops sponsored by Wake Technical Community College (on-site)

·      As a voluntary option, mentoring support is available through community faith groups. Additional mentoring support opportunities may include NC Vocational Rehabilitation/Vista Project 

·      Explore additional opportunities to contract for employment and other related support services 

·      Targeting employment for parents of children involved in the Partnership with Educational Success initiative.

 

Performance Measures:

Ø      100% of “All Family” Work First (mandatory) participants will have a Mutual Responsibility Agreement

Ø      Assess the needs of Work First families and make referrals based on assessment

Ø      Referrals to community service providers will be tracked monthly

 

Develop partnerships with  businesses and community resources

Goal:  Initiate and develop partnerships with Wake County businesses and community resources that will assist Work First participants in obtaining and maintaining employment. 

 

Principles:  The business community is the primary resource for reducing the number of people on the Work First caseload.  Ongoing job development and the sharing of job contacts is a performance expectation for all employees within Vocational Services. 

 

Background:  As an agency, Wake County Human Services has dedicated itself to reaching out to citizens, local businesses, and other community agencies to form working partnerships to achieve the mutually desired outcome of self-sufficiency for families served by Wake County Human Services.  

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:

 

Use workforce development systems to provide employment opportunities

Ø        Continue the development and expansion of the Wake County Area Business Advisory Council to promote workforce development and provide employment opportunities for Work First participants

 

Ø        Continue the expansion of the Work First Steering Committee for the purpose of promoting collaborative planning, community involvement and advocacy for the Wake County Work First Program    

 

Ø        Include Work First representation on Wake County’s Economic Development Commission

 

Ø        Develop partnerships with fellow public agency employers, including municipalities, county, state, and federal offices, to promote employment opportunities for Work First participants

 

 

Work First representatives will participate on the Wake County Transportation Advisory Board to develop employment-related transportation options.  In addition, Work First Maximize job retention and increased earnings through post-placement services  

·        Mentoring Support

·        Intensive Case Management Services

·        Development of Natural Supports (friends, families and co-workers)

·        Budget Planning, Credit Counseling, and Debt Management Services

 

Partner with transportation services to ensure reliable transportation to and from work

Ø        Workforce transportation requires a community-wide partnership, which includes the public and private transportation community, local businesses and the faith community.  It is widely recognized that an array of transportation alternatives will be needed to meet the workforce transportation needs of Work First participants. 

 

Transportation options currently utilized by Wake County’s Work First Program include: 

·        Capital Area Transit (CAT) and CAT Connectors

·        Triangle Transit Authority (TTA)

·        Wake Coordinated Transportation Services/MV

 

Ø        Recent planning discussions have targeted the following transportation initiatives:

·         representatives (i.e., employers, staff and/or consumers) will participate on the Wake County “Transportation User’s Group”.  This group provides feedback on the quality of transportation services received    

 

Promote the development of affordable housing and related support services

Goal:  Work First families will obtain and maintain affordable housing, which contributes to their economic self-sufficiency. 

 

Principles:  The availability of affordable housing to working families enhances their opportunities to be economically self-sufficient.  

 

Background:   Wake County Human Services and the Work First Program recognize the importance of housing in achieving self-sufficiency as well as the need for affordable housing resources in the community.  As a result, the Work First Program not only takes advantage of existing housing opportunities but also develops opportunities specifically for Work First families. 

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies: 

Ø      WCHS’ Supported Housing Team combines support services with scattered-site housing.   The program is designed to prevent homelessness and actively help clients maintain stable, affordable housing through individual case management and service coordination.  All Supported Housing Program clients work closely with case managers to receive services and achieve individual goals.  Client services may include:      

o       assistance with budgeting and credit restoration

o       daily living skills training, e.g., housekeeping, developing support                           networks and socialization

o       coordination of medical and health services when necessary

o       counseling and support in achieving self-identified goals             

o       assistance in meeting lease obligations

o       referrals to other services or programs

o       conflict resolution training.

The Supported Housing Team also provides housing information and coordinates the Ready to Rent, Homebuyer and Credit Restoration classes. 

 

Ø      Wake County Human Services will continue to contract with four local non-profit agencies that provide transitional housing and/or supported housing services to TANF-eligible families.  They are: The Carying Place (providing transitional housing and supported housing services), PLM Families Together (providing transitional housing and supported housing services), Triangle Family Services (providing supported housing services), and the Women’s Center of Wake County (providing supported housing services).  Supported housing services include budgeting/credit repair, housekeeping skills training, and assistance with locating permanent housing. 

 

Ø      Wake County Human Services will continue partnering with other community agencies that promote affordable housing for low-income families.

 

Ø      The Housing Authority of the County of Wake (WCHA) will continue to make affordable housing accessible to Work First families.  WCHA has a total of 343 Public Housing units, which are located in Apex, Zebulon, Wake Forest, Garner, Wendell and Fuquay-Varina. The Authority reports 921 families on the waiting list for a public housing unit.  This translates into an average wait of one to two years, once on the waiting list.  WCHA also reports 171 families on its waiting list for a Section 8 Voucher; there are a total of 193 vouchers.  This translates to an average wait of five or six years, once on the waiting list.

 

Ø       The Raleigh Housing Authority (RHA) will continue to make affordable housing accessible to Work First and Work First-eligible families.  RHA has a total of 1,615 public housing units within the City of Raleigh, of which Work First-eligible families occupy approximately 40%, and 3,537 rental vouchers throughout Wake County.  RHA was awarded a HOPE VI grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to demolish and rebuild one of its large public housing communities, Chavis Heights.  Construction is underway and will be completed and reoccupied in the summer of 2009.  This development will include 86 public housing units on site, 55 public housing units off site, 55 tax credit units, and 27 market rate units.   In July, 2006, RHA applied for another HOPE VI grant to develop 183 public housing units on site, 11 public housing units off site, 90 tax credit units, and 40 market rate units that will replace 300 units now in the Walnut Terrace apartment complex.. 

 

Ø       In collaboration with Wake County Human Services (WCHS), the Raleigh Housing Authority (RHA) received a $3.9 million grant award in the fall of 1999 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through its Welfare-to-Work (WtW) Voucher Program.  The WtW Voucher Program was designed to assist families who are TANF-eligible obtain housing which will allow them to make progress in achieving self-sufficiency. The award originally provided 700 rental vouchers for low-income TANF-eligible families in Wake County but was then increased to 950 vouchers.  However, HUD terminated this program in March 2004 in preparation for reconfiguring all vouchers into the Flexible Voucher Program.  Residually, as of September 22, 2006, there were 506 active Welfare-to-Work tenants. 

 

Ø       Wake County Human Services will support Work First families who are living in homeless shelters or transitional housing programs as they look for and move into permanent housing.  It will work with the shelter and transitional housing providers as they assist the families as well.  Among the providers in Wake County are Urban Ministries’ Helen Wright Center for Women, Salvation Army, Raleigh Rescue Mission, Passage Home, PLM Families Together, and The Carying Place.

 

Ø      Work First families and those families who meet 200% of the federal poverty guidelines will continue to receive supportive housing services in support of their obtaining and maintaining employment, which strengthens families and supports self-sufficiency. Supportive services provided to families who meet 200% of the federal poverty guidelines will continue to be short-term, designed to alleviate a specific non-reoccurring crisis, and not to exceed four months.  Some of the supportive services are for: rent, rental deposits, utilities, transportation, work-related expenses, on-the-job training and education.

 

Ø      Wake County Human Services will continue the collaboration with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in making available monthly Home Management Seminars focusing on housing issues and promoting sound budgeting and housekeeping practices.

 

Ø      Beginning in 2003, through a joint venture between the NC Housing Finance Agency and the NC Department of Health and Human Services, housing developers who are awarded tax credits allocate a percentage of their units to households with low incomes who are homeless or who are headed by a person with a disability.  Each developer must work with a “local lead agency” that is responsible for providing supportive services to tenants in the targeted units as they need and want them.  Currently there are 69 targeted units operational or under development in Wake County.

 

Ø      Wake County Human Services will continue the collaboration with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in making available monthly Home Management Seminars focusing on housing issues and promoting sound budgeting and housekeeping practices.  

 

Develop and use measures to determine the success of the program

Goal:   Develop and implement systems of measurement and data collection for the Wake County Work First Program. 

 

Principles:  Systematic and on-going feedback on current performance works to improve future performance. System information promotes service integration and efficient operations. 

 

Background:  The Work First Program uses automated State systems (EIS, EPIS and SIS) for data collection and program measurement.  The County utilizes it’s own Service Registration system for further collection of data and improvement of customer service and efficiency. 

 

Online policy and procedural manuals have been a major time saver and have improved the agency’s overall accuracy rate. Work First staff developed a family assessment tool that provides information to aid staff in providing employment-focused support services that meet the needs of the family.   

 

Performance Measures:

 

The standardized systems utilized by the Work First Program to collect, analyze data and to measure the quality of performance are:

 

Ø      Eligibility Information System (EIS)

Ø      Employment Program Information System (EPIS)

Ø      Service Information System (SIS)

Ø      Data Warehouse

Ø      Internal Quarterly Quality Assurance Reviews

Ø      Team Leader Second Party Reviews

Ø      State MPR Quality Assurance

Ø      Evaluation of the effectiveness of contracted service providers

 

The Work First Program also uses the following techniques to measure customer service:

 

Ø      Customer Service Surveys

Ø      Employee and Customer Suggestion Boxes

 

Strategies and Responsible Agencies:

 

Ø        Wake County’s Work First Program will continue to set challenging and obtainable performance standards which are higher than State established measures

 

Ø        Ensure accurate and timely entry of service data into the EIS system (to assure that the agency’s efforts are properly reflected in the reports to the State).  This strategy applies to most of the state and county goals

 

Ø        Each WCHS Work First team is evaluated monthly on the following performance measures:

 

·           Number employed

·           Number of employment related terminations

·           All–Family Participation rates

·           Two-Parent Family Participation rates

·           Number of benefit diversions

·           Number of referrals to community service providers

·           Number of Work First applications processed timely

 

Ø          Provide monthly feedback to Work First Teams and individual staff members on their performance.  Wake County’s Work First program seeks to reward and recognize staff and program performance improvements  

 

Ø        Wake County’s Work First Program will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of contracted service providers (Wake Technical Community College, Raleigh Vocational Center, etc.) with specific attention toward the impact of short-term training on wage progression for Work First participants 

 

Ø        Continue to provide Work First performance reports to the Wake County Board of Commissioners, the Wake County Human Services Board and the Work First Steering Committee

 

Ø        Continue monthly reporting system that tracks service referrals, participation rates, number of participants going to work, and wages earned (Work First Program Manager Report)

 

Performance Measures:

 

Ø      Work First Performance Report

Ø      Data Warehouse Reports

Ø      Service Management Report

 

ADMINISTRATION

 

AGENCY ORGANIZATION

In the 1998 Wake County Report for the People, Mr. Greg Patterson, Chair of the Wake County Human Services Board noted that:

 

“In December 1996, Wake County merged the Departments of Public Health, Mental Health, and Social Services into one agency – Wake County Human Services.  By doing so, Wake County became the first county in North Carolina, and possibly in the country to consolidate its multiple agencies into one, streamlined organization.

 

“Not only have we changed the organizational structure, we’ve changed the way we measure the effects of efforts in Wake County.  The emphasis is no longer on how many transactions are completed but on the results of our services. 

 

“Human Services strives to look at the entire needs of the citizens we serve as opposed to offering assistance in only one area that ignores other needs and problems.”   

 

The 2000 Report to the NC General Assembly on the Delivery of Human Services in Wake County cited improved services and increased effectiveness while enumerating efficiencies that resulted from combining the fiscal, administrative, physical and programmatic components of the formerly separate departments of health, mental health, and social services. 

 

In 1999, Wake County Human Services further consolidated its programs and administration into two groups, Services and Operations, to improve communication and to integrate services delivery.

 

In July 2000, a report entitled, The Delivery of Human Services in Wake County – An Update on the Consolidation of Human Services in Wake County Pursuant to GS 153A – 77B was submitted

to the NC General Assembly describing the Organizational Outcomes, Changing Service Delivery System and a revised Organizational Structure. 

 

This report described Wake County Human Services functioning within Wake County Government:  

 

“The Wake County Board of Commissioners and the County Manager previously frustrated by the often separate demands of the mental health, health, and social services agencies – better appreciate and respect the coordinated efforts of Wake County Human Services.  Concerns about coordination or duplication of effort and worry of unfounded mandates have been replaced by the routine approval of budget adjustments and program initiatives.

 

“The Agency Director reports directly to the County Manager. Senior Management Staff participate fully in the County Manager’s Management Team. The Human Services Board functions in a policy, advocacy and advisory role.”   

 

In September 2000, WCHS refined its administration and service structure to include a new division named “Family Support Services.”  This new service component integrates school based programming, child service coordination, maternal/women’s health, child daycare, intensive family support services, early intervention (DD) services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC).  

 

In addition, Child Welfare and Children’s Mental Health programs have been consolidated under a new division, Child Welfare and Mental Health.  The following programs are included:

 

·        Child Protective Services Intake/Investigations

·        Child Protective Treatment (in-home & community-based)

·        Child Foster Care and Adoption

·        Child Mental Health

·        Child Placement (emergency residential services)

 
Economic self-sufficiency (WCHS)
The Wake County Work First Program operates under the auspices of Economic Self-Sufficiency, Wake County Human Services.  In addition to including Work First, the Economic Self-Sufficiency Division is comprised of the following programs:  Child Support Enforcement, Family & Children’s Medicaid, Food Assistance, Housing and Community Revitalization, Homeless Services, Service Intake, and Employment & Training Services (non-Work First programs such as Supportive Employment, Jobs for the Homeless, Working for Kids, PRO-Familia, JobLink Career Center). 

 

The Work First Program Manager reports to the Director of Economic Self-Sufficiency and participates as a member of the Economic Self-Sufficiency Management Team within Wake County Human Services.  

 

The Wake County Work First Program is composed of six Work First Teams located at the Swinburne Building.  Four of the teams are comprised of a Supervisor, an Administrative Assistant, Employment Counselors and Case Managers.  The fifth Team has responsibility for the Reception staff. The sixth Team located at Swinburne is a support Team consisting of a Team Leader, Housing Specialist, Accounting Technician, Job Developer, Supply Clerk and Foster Care Case Managers. The Supervisor of the Work First Support Team provides on site supervision for the Substance Abuse Professionals, the Domestic Violence Counselor and the Mental Health Clinician Work First services are also provided at the Eastern and Southern Regional Centers.  The Work First Supervisors report directly to the Work First Program Manager and meet every two weeks as a management team.  The Work First Trainers are also members of the Work First Management Team.

 

The Work First Program of Wake County is committed to:

·        Achieving outcomes

·        Flexible and responsive services

·         Continuous improvement 

·         Quality Customer Services

 

Wake County’s Work First Program continues to forge internal links and expanded external partnerships with the business and faith communities to support the overall goals of the County’s Work First Plan. 

 

Staff development (WCHS)

Training staff and coordinating information are crucial to the success of the County’s Work First Program.  The WCHS Staff Development & Training Unit provides program training for new and seasoned staff. Policy interpretation and the reviewing of case records for application of policy and quality of services aid the Work First Program in its’ attempt to continually improve the quality of service.  The Trainers assigned to Work First are integral members of the Work First Management Team. The Staff Development Unit also functions as a clearinghouse to ensure that information related to policy changes or updates are disseminated in a timely fashion. 

 

Wake County’s Work First staff are encouraged to attend training & workshops which promote knowledge, skills, and abilities related to areas of employment.  Life skill development, cultural diversity, developing natural supports, and accessing community resources are a focus of this training. 

 

Wake County’s Work First staff work closely with the State’s regional representative with regard to staff development and training.  In addition, the State’s regional representative provides training, direction and policy interpretation for Work First staff.  The regional representative monitors goal achievement and the overall progress of Wake County’s Work First Program.   

 

Eligibility determination

Wake County follows State procedures on determining eligibility.  However, Wake County is committed to making further improvements in the eligibility determination process, including streamlining and automating the process. 

 

Joblink and co-location of services

Wake County’s JobLink Career Centers are a part of a statewide system that incorporates a national initiative to integrate a variety of employment, education and training services under a single delivery system. 

 

Four principles are key to all JobLink Career Centers:  Universality of Population Served, Customer Choice, Integration of Services and Outcome Based Measures. 

 

The service goal is to make the recruitment, training and hiring process easier and more efficient for both job seekers and employers.

 

Wake County Human Services serves as the host site agency for the Swinburne JobLink Career Center, 220 Swinburne Street, Raleigh NC and houses the following partner agencies:

 

·        NC Employment Security Commission

·        NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services

·        Wake County Public School System

·        Wake County Human Services (Workforce Investment Act; Work First; Supportive Employment; PRO-Familia; Working for Kids)

·        Wake Technical Community College   

·        NC Division of Services for the Blind

·        Community Partnership, Inc.

 

As a resource center, the JobLink Career Center is equipped with self-assessment instruments, automated job listings, labor market information and access to computers and other office equipment.  The JobLink Career Center has a positive impact in assisting Work First participants as well as the general population in making informed choices regarding their careers and providing direct linkage to employers.  

 

Many of the JobLink Career Center customers are Work First or former Work First participants who are seeking additional career information and assistance.  The coordinator of the JobLink Career Center will work closely with the program manager of Work First to ensure service coordination. 

 

FIRST STOP PROGAM

A Memorandum of Understanding exists between Wake County Human Services and the Employment Security Commission (ESC).  This agreement allows program access in a timely and efficient manner. A full time ESC interviewer will continue to be located with the Work First program at Swinburne Street and regional centers in Fuquay Varina and Zebulon.

 

Prioritization of childcare FUNDS

After the priorities for Protective Services, Foster Care and Teen Parents (high school, middle school) are met, the priorities for Work First families are:

 

·        Work First Family Assistance (WFFA) recipients who are employed (TANF)

·        Families participating in Work First employment services (short-term, work-related activities)

·        Families who have used diversion benefits and for whom childcare is an essential part of the diversion.

 

Transportation

As previously noted, workforce transportation requires a community-wide partnership which includes the public and private transportation community, local businesses and the faith community.  It is widely recognized that an array of transportation alternatives will be needed to meet the workforce transportation needs of Work First participants. 

 

The following agencies, groups and programs are identified as key stakeholders in coordinating and collaborating on transportation issues:

 

Ø        Transportation partners:  Capital Area Transit (CAT), Triangle Transit Authority (TTA), Wake Coordinated Transportation Services (MV) and other transportation agencies in the community

 

Ø        Wake County’s Work First program will recycle vehicles to Work First families, as they are made available   

 

Ø        Representatives from Wake County’s Work First Program will participate on the Wake County Transportation Advisory Board (WCTAB) and will assist in the development of a countywide transportation plan. In addition, Work First staff and/or Work First participants will participate on a “Transportation User’s Group”, which is coordinated through the WCTAB     

 

SUBSTANCE ABUSE

 

Human services role in mental health and substance abuse services

Mental health and substance abuse services are part of the same agency, which plans and administers the Work First Program.  Substance Abuse Counselors are co-located with the Wake County Work First Program and provide substance abuse assessments.  Access to additional substance abuse services are facilitated by interdepartmental referrals.  The functions are integrated where appropriate and access to services is facilitated by the organization of the agency. 

 

NC CASAWORKS PROGRAM

 

Since 2001, Wake County has operated one of only eight statewide NC CASAWORKS programs.  Funded through federal and state dollars, CASAWORKS provides residential substance abuse treatment for Work First families.  The goals of the program are two-fold – abstinence and employment.  The target population is women with spotty or “no” employment background who also have a history of substance abuse.  A unique aspect is that children age 11 years and younger participate in the program with their mothers.  In addition to core primary services the families also receive ancillary services – physical health, mental health (both child and adult), parenting skills, education and comprehensive case management.   During FY ’05-’06 Wake County’s CASAWORKS program garnered statewide recognition for successful employment outcomes – which resulted directly from collaborative efforts with Wake County’s Work First Program

 

Some highlights of fiscal year 05/06:

 

 

 

 

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

 

The family violence  prevention center, inc. (dba interact services)

Wake County’s Work First Program has developed a domestic violence policy which outlines specific procedures to address domestic violence issues at the time of initial family assessment and throughout the family’s involvement with Wake County Human Services. 

 

In 1998, the Wake County Work First program established a contractual partnership with Interact to provide educational workshops on domestic violence and individual counseling services for Work First participants on-site at the Wake County Human Services Center.

 

Work First participants receiving domestic violence services may request a waiver to suspend the 24-month time clock for the time period necessary to ensure family safety.  The waiver is not limited to the 24-month time clock but may be applied to any and all Work First requirements.     

 

The General Assembly continues to appropriate TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds to provide domestic violence services to families receiving Work First services. These funds are used to provide domestic violence counseling, support services, and emergency services that ensure family safety.

 

Use of public and private resources

In order to carry out the strategies identified in its Work First Plan, Wake County Human Services and its Work First Program provide direct services, purchase specialized services, and coordinate referrals to community service providers.  Wake County Human Services will continue to refine the use of MOE (Maintenance of Effort) and TANF funds to make full use of these resources and to make sure that their use reflects the goals of Wake County’s Work First Plan and the priorities of Wake County Human Services.  

 

 

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE  (EA)

 

HOW WAKE COUNTY WILL ADDRESS THE EMERGENCY NEEDS OF FAMILIES

 

Tanf/emergency assistance  (EA)

Both the Service Intake Unit and the Work First Program of WCHS will administer TANF-EA funds in response to non-recurring emergency needs of families who are active in at least one of the following programs: (Please note that families served must have income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level).

Ø      Work First Cash Assistance (must have a signed Mutual Responsibility Agreement)

Ø      Transitional Medicaid and MAF-C

Ø      Child Protective Services, Family Support At Risk Cases and Child Welfare (IV-E eligible)

Ø      Families whose total gross income is at or below 150% of poverty level

 

In addition, the following requirements apply:

 

TANF-EA funds may be used to address the following emergency related needs: 

Ø      Rent deposit to locate affordable housing or rent/mortgage assistance to prevent eviction or relocation assistance within the county in order to obtain or maintain employment

Ø      Replacement or repair of household appliances and/or heating/cooling systems to allow families to continue to live in the home (e.g., furnace repair, refrigerator, stove)   

Ø      Diversion strategy to allow family to stay off welfare assistance

 

 

150% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2006 – (Monthly Amounts)

 

Family Size

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

150%

$1,225

$1,650

$2,075

2,500

$2,925

$3,350

$3,775

$4,200

 

Wake County Human Services may elect to revise, restrict or prioritize the criteria for TANF- EA funds depending on the availability of funds in response to service demand.

 

The Service Registration System of WCHS will track services provided to families who receive TANF-EA assistance.

 

SERVICES FOR FAMILIES WITH INCOME AT OR BELOW 200%

 

200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2006 – (Monthly Amounts)

 

Family Size

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

200%

$1,633

$2,200

$2,767

$3,333

$3,900

$4,467

$5,033

$5,320

** For each additional family member, add $567.

 

Wake County Human Services will continue to provide short-term employment related services to those families whose total gross income is at or below 200% of poverty.  Staff is available to  assess applicants’ situation and eligibility for this service by appointment to accommodate work schedules. Currently child daycare is not offered due to funding availability.   

 

SERVICES FOR NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS OF

WORK FIRST RECIPIENT CHILDREN

 

Wake County’s strategy for targeting non-custodial parents, specifically the absent fathers of children who are on welfare, was based on serving an under-served population in Wake County. 

 

Critical to meeting the Child Support goals of the County’s Work First Plan is assisting non-custodial parents in obtaining and maintaining employment. 

 

Wake County’s Working for Kids Program has adopted a comprehensive case management approach to addressing the needs of non-custodial parents.  These needs may involve employment, education, housing, legal issues, or mental health/substance abuse problems.  Specific employment and support services include:  Job Development & Placement, On-the-Job Training Activities, Short-term Skills Training, Mediation Services, and Peer Support Groups as well as parenting skills training and Family Centered events that encourage and support positive interaction with non custodial children.

In order to be eligible, a non-custodial parent must meet the following criteria:

·        Unemployed or underemployed and having difficulty paying child support

·        Have a child who receives Work First cash assistance

·        Total gross wages and unearned income below 200% of the federal poverty guideline

·        Enter into a Mutual Responsibility Agreement which states that parents agree to pay child support obligations

Wake County funds Working for Kids through the Work First Block Grant funds.

 

The majority of referrals come directly from the Wake County Civil District Court System or the Wake County Child Support Enforcement Office. 

 

Child Welfare

 

In September 2000, WCHS restructured Child Welfare Services to include Child Mental Health.  The Child Welfare Division includes the following:      

 

·        Child Protective Services Intake/Investigations

·        Child Protective Treatment (in-home & community based)

·        Foster Care and Adoption

·        Child Mental Health

·        Child Placement (emergency residential services)

 

Related to overall child welfare, WCHS established a division named “Family Support Services.”  This service component integrates school-based programming, child service coordination, maternal/women’s health, child daycare, intensive family support services, early intervention (DD) services and the nutritional program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). 

 

Wake County’s Work First Program and Child Welfare Services continue to jointly staff CPS/WF cases to support child well being and the family unit.   Work First has designated a partnering Team for each of the CPS Treatment geographic service zones in the county and each regional center.  The Work First Teams consist of a supervisor, case manager and an employment counselor. The desired outcome is that CPS families, Work First families and potential Work First families will have a more family centered service delivery system, one consistent with the MRS principles.

 

Child Welfare has integrated adult Mental Health Clinicians, Child Mental Health Clinicians and Substance Abuse Counselors directly into Child Welfare Units to improve access and collaboration for families needing those services.

 

SUCCESS FOR WORK FIRST “FAMILIES AT RISK” INITIATIVE

 

Success for Work First Families At Risk is a collaborative initiative to assist Work First families who have utilized 30 or more months of their Work First time clock and who also have complex issues such as mental illness, physical or developmental disabilities, and/or substance abuse problems.  Wake County’s Work First Program has developed a full array of employment and support services to assist Work First Families At Risk

 

In order to coordinate service planning for Work First Families At Risk, the County’s local plan for the success initiative requires Work First teams to meet on a regular basis to assess the status of each at risk case and then schedule a monthly staff meeting with a myriad of partnering agencies to make needed referrals for specialized services (e.g., mental health, substance abuse treatment, etc.).  Wake County’s Work First Program has established an internal tracking tool to monitor the progress of each family. 

 

New Service Strategies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                  FUNDING REQUIREMENTS                                                                                            

 

Wake County Human Services will continue to refine the use of MOE (Maintenance of Effort) and TANF funds to make full use of these resources and to make that use reflect the goals of the Wake County Work First Plan and the priorities of WCHS. 

 

Activities to be  funded through maintenance of effort (moe)

 

See Attachment B – WFBG Tracking for FY 05-06 (Wake County)

See Attachment C – Wake County MOE Expenditures Report

 

Work first block grant earmarked for child welfare services 

 

      See Attachment D – Wake County TANF Expenditure Report

 

Personnel schedule

 

      See Attachment E – Work First MOE Personnel

 

Wake County’s Work First funding plan will be updated as a part of the overall Wake County Human Services budget and submitted to the County Commissioners in late spring.  The County’s budgeting process includes public hearings.

 

                                                  INNOVATIVE COUNTY STRATEGIES                                                                            

 

EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

 

Wake County Human Services Hosting JobLink Career Center

Wake County’s Work First participants have benefited by having a comprehensive JobLink Career Center located at the Wake County Human Services Center (Swinburne Building).  The JobLink Career Center continues to participate in “business days” and “job fairs” to support individuals and families in their quest to gain employment.

 

On-going job development and the sharing of job contacts through the JobLink On-Line (www.joblinkcc.com) is a performance expectation for all employees within Vocational Services. 

 

Formal vocational evaluations – raleigh vocational center

The Wake County Work First Program contracts with the Raleigh Vocational Center to provide vocational evaluations and situational assessments for Work First participants who do not have an identified employment objective.

 

Supportive employment /work first collaborative project

The County’s Work First Program refers participants with diagnosed or suspected mental health problems to Supportive Employment of Wake County Human Services. 

 

PRO-Familia

 

In response to the rapidly increasing Hispanic population in Wake County, PRO-Familia was established as a Work First pilot project. PRO–Familia continues today as a fully functioning program funded by the TANF Block Grant.  PRO-Familia targets Hispanic clients who are U.S. citizens or  have established documentation with INS that allows the individual to work in the United States. 

 

PRO-Familia works to increase the ability of non-English speaking Latinos to contribute to the financial support of their families through stable, unsubsidized employment that pays a livable wage.

 

Bilingual case managers work with program participants to ensure that their full range of needs are addressed – including housing, transportation, health care, mental health or substance abuse treatment, childcare, legal problems, family support systems, domestic violence issues, education and language services, etc.  Once employment is achieved, the case managers continue to work with clients on job retention and employment-related skills throughout their enrollment with PRO-Familia.  

 

All participants receiving services under PRO-Familia must meet the age (for children), kinship, living with, citizenship and income (less than 200% of poverty) requirements as stated in the Work First Manual.  Participants in this program must have a case opened in the Service Registration System, unless they are active on a Work First Family Assistance case.

 

Next Generation – Making the Best Better

 

 A collaborative effort meant to impact the next generation of potential Work First recipients.  The focus is to impact the educational and social decision making of 14 & 15 year olds and their parents by linking them to appropriate community support services; providing school supplies, grade incentives, college tours and relevant workshops.  The goal is to eliminate or drastically reduce the high school dropout rate for this group thereby eliminating the need for public assistance for the next generation. School report cards and other follow up have seen significant scholastic improvement for many of the students.

 

HOUSING SERVICES

 

While not specifically targeted to families who are Work First-eligible, the following initiatives are significant ways in which the Wake County community is working to increase the housing stability for all of its citizens with low incomes.

 

Raleigh/Wake County 10-Year Action Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness

In February 2005, after a year of planning involving the entire community, the Raleigh/Wake County 10-Year Action Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness was unveiled and work on its implementation began.   This initiative is led by the Leadership Council (11 prominent citizens from a variety of sectors in the community, a Wake County Commissioner, and a member of the Raleigh City Council) and the Oversight Team (six representatives of Wake County, City of Raleigh, Triangle United Way, and the Wake Continuum of Care); it is carried out by a myriad of volunteers working on 12 strategy groups in the areas of prevention, outreach/engagement, housing/support services, and education/employment. Its purpose is to end and prevent homeless in our community rather than to continue to merely manage it.

 

Circles of Support

As part of the Raleigh/Wake County 10-Year Action Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness, Catholic Charities, which invited faith communities to provide Support Circles for evacuees of Hurricane Katrina, is coordinating the same type of service for families and individuals already living in this area who are homeless.  Local participating congregations form a “circle” of volunteers to help a family (or individual) who is experiencing homelessness locate affordable, permanent housing and offer support as the family/individual becomes established in the community.  Rental subsidies are also available to the family/individual.  

 

OTHER INNOVATIVE PRACTICES

 

WCHS Review Panel for Work First Extension Requests

North Carolina’s Work First Program requires able-bodied adults who receive Work First employment services to obtain employment within 24 months. 

 

For those Work First participants whose mandatory 24-month time clock has expired, State policy allows Work First participants to request an extension of benefits.

 

In addition, State policy requires the local Board of Social Services or its designee to hear requests for Work First extension benefits.  In Wake County, the Human Services Board or its designee shall be responsible for ensuring the State policy is met.

 

In support of this policy, the Wake County Human Services Board established a review panel for Work First extension requests in order to hear requests on an individual case-by-case basis and make decisions based on its findings.

 

The extension review panel consists of 5 members, three of whom are agency staff from Program Integrity, Work First, and the Consumer Rights Office. Two additional slots are dedicated to community representation and will be rotated among volunteers from any of the following:  Members of the Human Services Board, Business Advisory Council, Work First Steering Committee, Client Rights Committee or Private Citizens.

 

As of December 2001, the initial families in Wake County used their 60–month time clock. In order for those families to receive additional benefits, the family must request a Hardship Hearing.  The Wake County Human Services Board, using the same procedures as described in the 24–Month Extension Policy, established a panel for the Hardship Hearings.  In addition to the other identified panel members, a representative of Child Welfare sits on the panel.  The schedule for hearings is based on client demand; however, the capacity is to hold either 24-Month Extension or Hardship Hearings twice per week.

 

 

                                     SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND MENTAL HEALTH                                                                            

 

Co-location of Qualified Substance Abuse Professionals

 

All Work First applicants identified with substance abuse issues are assessed by Qualified Substance Abuse Professionals (QSAP) who are co-located with Work First.  The QSAP and the Work First staff collaborate in treatment planning and case management.

 

Adult Mental Health/Work First Integrated Care Project

 

In an effort to improve identification and treatment of mental health problems of Work First participants, mental health clinicians and Work First staff have collaborated and developed strategies to engage a population that has had perceived stigmas related to Mental Health Services.    The mental health staff worked closely with the Work First staff to provide accessible screening, consultation, evaluation and treatment of Work First participants who have mental health problems.  Earlier efforts to screen and refer clients to mental health services found a very low follow-up rate when services were provided off-site.  The current project has improved identification of mental health problems, accessibility of services and follow-up for treatment appointments for Work First participants who have mental health problems.  A full time therapist and part time psychiatrist are co-located within the Work First Program.

 

 

 A screening tool has been developed that identifies clinical symptoms of depression. The screening tool is used at the time of the Work First application in conjunction with the substance abuse screening.  In the pilot phase, Work First participants who had been identified as suffering from depression were referred to a mental health professional for evaluation and treatment.  The pilot project demonstrated a need for mental health services but found a very low follow-up rate when clients were referred off-site.  As a result, a full-time licensed clinical social worker and part-time psychiatrist have been assigned to the Work First program, where they provide consultation, education, screening, evaluation and treatment services for Work First participants who have mental health problems.

 

EMERGING ISSUES

 

Special issues have been identified throughout the Wake County Work First Plan:

 

Ø      The waiting list for childcare and the potential impact on children’s safety and parents ability to work or engage in training leading to employment.

 

Ø       Issues related to affordable housing, and transportation have been identified as significant barriers in Wake County. 

 

Ø      The effect of a lack of a high school diploma or GED on families ability to gain meaningful employment.

 

Ø      The increased emphasis on meeting Federal Participation Rates, with possible sanctions. Wake County will submit a proposal to the State of North Carolina to request a portion of the funds set aside to assist counties in meeting the Federal Participation Rates. 

 

Ø      Multiple Response System – Wake County Human Services continues to struggle with identifying the degree of collaboration between Work First and Child Welfare in order to have best practices for family centered services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Wake County has consistently achieved many of its Work First performance objectives; most notably, helping Work First participants obtain employment and stay off welfare (cash) assistance. Wake County has broadened its approach by providing family-centered services to eligible working families. Wake County has sought to include preventative measures to assist families with reducing manageable crisis situations. In addition, Wake County’s Work First program has established several successful community partnerships.

 

Despite these successes, many challenges still remain. Many Work First families have seen their hourly workweek drop.

 

 

CERTIFICATIONS

 

WAKE COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

The County’s Work First Plan was approved and adopted by the Wake County Board of Commissioners on _________________________, 2006.

 

 

 

__________________________________________________________

Mr. Tony Gurley, Chair, Wake County Board of Commissioners

 

 

WAKE COUNTY HUMAN SERVICES BOARD

The County’s Work First Plan was reviewed by the Wake County Board of Human Services on _______________________, 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

__________________________________________________________

Mrs. Helen K Poole, Chair, Wake County Human Services Board