Service Delivery Basics from Strategies and Practices for Effectively Serving All One-Stop Customers
Under the programmatic regulations issued by ETA, One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are required to provide core, intensive, training, and support services. In addition, the nondiscrimination/equal opportunity regulations issued by CRC oblige these entities to take steps to include members of various protected populations in the services provided, including the obligation to ensure that programs, projects, and activities are administered in the most integrated setting appropriate. This section identifies specific examples of service delivery strategies and practices that One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system have found useful in reaching the divergent population served by such entities, including individuals with multiple barriers to employment. These examples include service delivery strategies and practices relating to:
- Eligibility and general treatment,
- Funding services (core, intensive, and training),
- Maintaining a provider network (adequacy and payment),
- Core Services, and
- Intensive and Training Services.
Eligibility and General Treatment
The One-Stop Center and other organizations in the workforce investment system offer an array of services to job seekers. In order to ensure that individual job seekers are not arbitrarily denied a meaningful opportunity to take advantage of a particular service, One-Stop Centers and other organizations take steps to eliminate the barriers (such as eligibility criteria) within a Center's existing menu of services. In addition, these entities endeavor to meet the individual needs of customers by expanding the services and supports on the menu.
Specific examples of practices related to eligibility and general treatment that have proven successful include:
- Working with all partners, the One-Stop operator establishes an "expectation of success" attitude regarding customers with significant barriers to employment. This attitude includes a commitment by all partners to serve such customers alongside other customers to the extent appropriate to the needs of the customers (providing appropriate supports such as reasonable accommodations), instead of automatically referring these customers to another specialized service agency (e.g., an agency that exclusively serves veterans, persons with disabilities, and individuals with a history of incarceration).
- Using clearly documented criteria and processes for referral to internal partners and community agencies, to make sure referrals are not used for segregating particular populations.
- Reviewing eligibility criteria for training and other programs to eliminate criteria that unnecessarily screen out persons with multiple barriers to employment, such as individuals with disabilities. For example, requiring a driver's license as a form of identification even where the training program does not involve driving, will unnecessarily screen out people whose disabilities prevent them from obtaining drivers' licenses.
- Eliminating unnecessary barriers (i.e., criteria that are not necessary to provide a service or training offered) from the selection process for training programs, such as certain type of prerequisite exams that measure the effects of an individual's disabilities, rather than his or her knowledge, skills, or abilities.
- Making alternative tests and assessments available.
- Organizing and documenting a process for selecting participants for Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) and auxiliary projects (e.g., grants, limited community resources) to make sure that the same process is used for all customers.
- Making staff roles flexible enough to allow employees of One-Stop Centers to individualize the way they provide services in response to customers' needs.
- To the extent a One-Stop Center makes available particular services (e.g., education and training opportunities, labor market information, job listing and job search assistance, resume and cover letter preparation), the One-Stop Center staff provides appropriate assistance and support services so that customers can effectively benefit from such services in the most integrated setting appropriate.
- Reviewing all programs and activities that provide separate or different services for certain categories of job seekers (such as individuals with disabilities) to ensure that such separate or different services are administered in compliance with legal requirements, and that the ultimate decision whether to participate in the segregated program or activity is left up to the customer. For example, a customer with a disability that imposes a significant impediment to employment could elect not to receive vocational rehabilitation services through the State VR agency, even though he or she was eligible for these services.
- Referring qualified customers with significant barriers to employment, including various diverse customers, to the same employers and placing them in the same positions available as other qualified job seekers.
- Rejecting all job orders from any employer that will not accept applications from protected categories of qualified persons (e.g., on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, or disability).
Another universal strategy used by One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system to streamline service delivery for customers is to bring together all of the various funding resources that might be available to pay for employment services for a particular customer, and allowing the customer to control these funds. Specific examples of strategies for funding that have proven successful include:
- Exploring and using a range of funding sources that both includes mandated partners and goes beyond mandated partners (e.g., Individual Development Accounts and employer contributions).
- Conducting meetings of mandated and non-mandated partners to identify potential funding options, including both general resources available to all clients and specific program funds that are targeted specifically for certain groups.
- Providing training for staff about work incentive resources that might be available to their various customers. This training may include information about the policies that apply when accessing and sharing funding from various agencies and examples of shared "blended" or "braided" funds and other resources.
- Using individualized resource mapping - a process of identifying what types of funding and resources are available to a particular job seeker - to find potential funding or support services.
- Giving customers ownership of their employment searches by using individual budgets, personal accounts, or other means of "drawing down" funds to customer-controlled accounts.
Provider Network (Adequacy and Payment)
The selection of qualified service providers and giving them appropriate training is a universal strategy that has proven successful in ensuring that job seekers (including individuals with multiple barriers to employment) receive services and supports that meet their needs. One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system must also consider the consequences of adopting a particular scheme for paying service providers. A particular scheme that reimburses all providers the same amount regardless of the number of barriers to employment that are faced by the individual job seekers they serve may have the unintended effect of discouraging providers from serving such customers with multiple barriers. Specific examples of practices related to provider networks that have proven successful include:
- Adopting a mechanism for the One-Stop Center and other workforce organizations to contract with service providers for a wide range of individualized services, such as customized employment, to respond to customer needs. This mechanism includes a clear set of qualifications for the providers that will supply each type of service.
- Carefully structuring the mechanism for contracting with service providers so that members of protected groups, such as customers with disabilities, are only referred to "specialized" providers if the applicable legal requirements are met.
- Recruiting traditional and nontraditional organizations that provide services within the local community to register and qualify as individualized/intensive employment services providers.
- Arranging for an adequate supply of available providers (including specialized providers) that have the requisite knowledge and experience to address the needs of individuals with significant barriers to employment and other diverse populations.
- Giving specific training and technical assistance sessions to provider network staff regarding effective strategies to help customers obtain employment, such as customized employment.
- Developing and using a payment mechanism that rewards providers that serve customers with particular barriers to employment by taking into consideration the additional costs of providing the specialized services and supports these customers need. For example, service providers that serve customers with disabilities may receive additional monies to reimburse the providers for all or part of the cost of providing reasonable accommodations, reasonable modifications, or specific auxiliary aids and services that a particular customer with a disability needs. In developing this mechanism, various fees and methods of payment (e.g., milestones, flat rate, outcome-based) are considered.
- Involving job seekers in selecting the specific providers that will supply their services. Some One-Stop Centers and related organizations require job seekers to certify satisfactory completion of services before the provider receives payment for the services.
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are using universal strategies to ensure meaningful access to these core services, including core services typically provided on a self-service basis. All customers receive information and training about their rights under WIA, including equal opportunity/nondiscrimination. Specific examples of practices related to core services that have proved successful include:
- Conducting an assessment of the resource library, job seeker workshops, and other core services to ensure that information and materials are presented in a way that recognizes the full range of communication and learning styles of all customers while ensuring confidentiality and privacy.
- Training staff members to proactively offer assistance to clients who appear to be having difficulty using services (i.e., providing appropriate assistance to customers who need it to access core, self-directed services, including assistance using computers and other forms of technology).
- Designing services so that customers who are not knowledgeable about, comfortable with, or able to use electronic technology (e.g., computers) can also fully benefit from One-Stop services by securing necessary information through other means.
- Using multi-modal presentation strategies (e.g., verbal, visual, role-play) in all workshops, which would benefit a variety of learning styles.
- Ensuring that all videos and DVDs used by the One-Stop Centers are captioned (either with open or closed-captioning) both in English and languages other than English.
- Providing clear information, in several languages and formats that explain how each computer workstation can be customized to meet individual user needs. This information includes such items as images of computer graphics and picture icons to help people with limited reading skills. The information also includes instructions for using any assistive technology installed on the machine.
- Including images of computer graphics and picture icons in written instructions for computer programs and functions.
- Collaborating with other local organizations to assist job seekers who are eligible for other federal or state programs, including benefit programs such as Social Security disability insurance programs.
- Making available private space for self-directed services for customers who have difficulty paying attention or focusing if background noise is present.
- Making available to all customers workshops on interviewing and self-representation skills, including the ability to negotiate certain features of the job.
- Providing resume-writing workshops that include the option of alternative tools, such as portfolios, for job seekers to use (instead of or in additional to traditional resumes) when representing themselves to employers.
Intensive and Training Services
One-Stop Centers and other organizations in the workforce investment system are using universal strategies to ensure meaningful opportunity to benefit from intensive and training services. Specific examples of strategies related to intensive and training services that have proved successful include:
- Employment Planning,
- Personal Marketing and Representation Skills,
- Job Representation and Negotiation, and
- Training Services.
Under the employment planning strategy, staff members develop individualized plans for employment that identify each customer's conditions for an ideal job and take into account the person's preferences, interests, and potential contributions. Specific examples of practices related to employment planning that have proven successful include:
- Developing an employment plan that emphasizes what the individual customer can do to support his or her own job search. Customers are given significant responsibility for the action steps resulting from the planning process. These action steps take advantage of the customers' strengths.
- Identifying potential tasks to be performed in an employment setting as part of this planning process.
- As part of the planning, an employer contact list is developed. Strategies for connecting with the listed employers through personal and professional networks are included in the contact list.
- Scheduling planning meetings that include the customer, team members, family, friends, and selected staff in the process of specifying the strengths, needs, and interests of the customer in the development of a customized job.
Personal Marketing and Representation Skills
The staffs of the One-Stop Centers and other organizations develop materials and provide training to help customers find employment in job settings that suit their individual situations and represent themselves to employers. Specific examples of practices related to personal marketing and representation skills that have proved successful include:
- Helping job seekers to create high-quality materials, which might include presentational portfolios for employers, resumes, letters of recommendations, and referrals.
- Providing training (including role-playing opportunities) to job seekers on strategies for representing themselves with an employer, including in such areas as negotiation skills and elements of the job or work expectations.
- Offering customers with disabilities training that enable them to make informed choices regarding whether or not to disclose their disability to an employer.
Job Representation and Negotiation
Many customers may choose to represent themselves in the hiring process. For customers who choose not to represent themselves in the hiring process, One-Stop Centers and other organizations' staffs offer them representation and negotiation supports. This decision is made as a piece of the above-referenced planning process. Representation will likely include the capacity to negotiate employment positions to better fit the abilities of the individual job seeker while still answering an essential need of the employer. Specific examples of practices related to job representation and negotiation that have proved successful include:
- Providing job seekers training that enables them to make informed choices regarding whether to represent themselves in the employment application process or to be represented by staff.
- Making One-Stop system case managers and job developers aware of the range of approaches in job development, including creating employment positions for specific job seekers through negotiation.
- Notifying all customers that if asked to do so, staff will work with them on an individual basis to decide whether they should disclose confidential information (e.g., disability, history of incarceration) to an employer, and will also conduct the disclosure on a particular customer's behalf upon request.
- Helping customers decide whether to disclose confidential information. This process includes a discussion of the information the customer is considering disclosing, the pros and cons of disclosure, and, if disclosure is chosen, the way in which the information would most effectively be presented.
- Staff identify areas for negotiation for a particular customer with a particular employer that are based on both individual contributions and employer needs.
In order to ensure that the staffs of the One-Stop Center and other organizations make available effective training services to all customers, including those customers with multiple barriers to employment, another universal strategy is to eliminate nonessential enrollment policies that would limit the availability of these services to such customers. As appropriate, funding resources from partner agencies are used to support the customer's involvement in a training program. Specific examples of practices related to training services that have proved successful include:
- Developing policies that make Individual Training Accounts (ITAs) more flexible so that they can be used for more creative training options and a wide variety of training providers, including agencies that provide individualized employment supports.
- Providing staff with sufficient flexibility in determining whether, with accommodations, an individual is eligible for a training program.
- Allowing staff to recruit training providers for possible inclusion on the State's or local area's list of eligible providers, and to assist providers in applying for eligibility.
- Identifying common training vendors across mandatory partner programs to allow for joint funding.
- Offering training on self-employment and micro-enterprises for customers who are interested in developing their own small businesses.
- Identifying national and local self-employment resources for small business development.