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8.3.4 Economic Self-Sufficiency

Effective date: July 26, 2019 - October 23, 2019 Background

One of WIOA's main purposes is to increase economic self-sufficiency (ESS) through workforce development activities.1

The U.S. Department of Labor requires local workforce development areas to follow a process for determining ESS for Adult Program and Dislocated Worker Program participants.2 Each state has the discretion to develop and adopt a method for calculating ESS that addresses the income needs of households based on household composition and geographic location within the state.3 Accordingly, DWD-DET adopted a standard for defining and determining ESS that is to be used statewide for the Adult Program and Dislocated Worker Program.

DWD-DET's standard takes into account the minimum amount of income required for a household4 to meet its basic expenses at a minimally adequate level, without public or private assistance. Under WIOA, this amount must always be equal to or greater than 100 percent of the most current Lower Living Standard Income Level (LLSIL),5 by household size.6 DWD-DET's ESS Standard for the Adult Program & the Dislocated Worker Program

Definition of Economic Self-Sufficiency

For the Adult Program, participants are considered economically self-sufficient if they:

For the Dislocated Worker Program, participants are considered economically self-sufficient if they meet all of the above criteria and one of the following:

The ESS Calculator

DWD-DET developed a calculator that career planners must use to establish whether individuals they serve are economically self-sufficient according to the ESS definition. The career planners' ESS calculator is accessible in the CEPT application, through the "Self-sufficiency" widget.

To perform a calculation, the career planner either enters an individual's current income and other information into the calculator based on the field prompts for the applicable program or can use information from a calculation that the participant completed in My JCW.

Note: When performing an ESS calculation for a participant whose income varies (e.g., from week to week or month to month), the career planner must average the participant's income for the period the career planner feels best captures the individual's current circumstances. Additionally, it is DWD-DET's intent that the ESS calculation determines if a participant is economically self-sufficient without having to work multiple jobs. If a participant holds more than one part- or full-time job, the career planner must only use the income from the individual's highest-paying job to perform the ESS calculation.

The calculator (1) generates results based on the criteria outlined in the definition of Economic Self-sufficiency and (2) provides a breakdown of monthly income, expenses and possible tax credits for the ESS level of a household with the same household composition and geographic location.

To create a new ESS calculation in CEPT, click "Add" and complete the required fields. Career planners have 24 hours to make changes to content in the fields before the calculation is no longer editable. To use information from a calculation that the participant completed in My JCW, open a shared calculation in CEPT and click "Accept." If a career planner determines that the calculation should not be accepted, click "Reject" and provide a reason for rejecting the calculation.

The individual is to self-report information for the ESS calculation and attest to the information's accuracy in one of the following ways:

If a career planner needs to perform an ESS calculation for a participant who resides in a county bordering Wisconsin, the career planner must find the Wisconsin county most equivalent to the border county by using the ESS Guidance: Bordering Counties tool.12 If the participant's state and county of residence do not appear in the dropdown list, email the participant's state and county of residence and DWD-DET will provide the most equivalent Wisconsin county to use for the participant's ESS calculation. Requirements for Applying the ESS Standard

DWD-DET requires career planners to perform an ESS calculation in the CEPT "Self-sufficiency" widget after an individual has been found eligible for the Adult Program or the Dislocated Worker Program.13 The calculation must be completed within 30 days of the Actual Close Date of an Eligibility Determination service. This calculation is valid for the participant's entire period of participation.

Participants co-enrolled in the Adult Program and Dislocated Worker Program only need one ESS calculation; however, DWD-DET requires career planners to use the Dislocated Worker Program ESS criteria for co-enrolled individuals. If an Adult Program participant is subsequently co-enrolled in the Dislocated Worker Program, the career planner must perform a new ESS calculation in CEPT using the Dislocated Worker Program ESS criteria.

ESS and Training

Economic self-sufficiency is an important component of training eligibility determinations, although it is not the only criterion that must be considered when deciding if participants are eligible to receive WIOA Adult Program- or Dislocated Worker Program-funded training.

A participant may ultimately be determined eligible for program-funded training if s/he:

Note: If a participant can obtain or retain economic self-sufficiency through career services only, training is not approvable.15

The career planner must use the results from the CEPT "Self-sufficiency" widget to determine whether the participant is considered economically self-sufficient for purposes of receiving program-funded training.

A participant who has been approved for training will not lose eligibility for training if s/he becomes economically self-sufficient later in his or her period of participation.

Participants Expected to Lose ESS

There are two instances when a career planner may approve program-funded training even though the participant is considered economically self-sufficient:

  1. the participant is working but has received a notice of termination or layoff;
  2. OR
  3. the participant is expected to lose economic self-sufficiency within six months (e.g., expecting a child, spouse will need to stop working due to illness or to care for child or aging parent).16

For participants in one of these two situations, career planners must perform an initial ESS calculation with current information. To support program-funded training, the career planner must document in an ASSET case note the upcoming change that is expected to cause the participant to lose economic self-sufficiency and perform another ESS calculation in CEPT that reflects the anticipated change as well as the loss of ESS.

Reassessing ESS for Participants Whose Circumstances Have Changed

If a participant who was economically self-sufficient when the ESS calculation was initially performed has a change in income, household composition, or county of residence during the Title I program period of participation, the career planner may perform a new ESS calculation. Subsequent calculations that demonstrate the loss of economic self-sufficiency may be used to support program-funded training and are valid for the remainder of the participant's Title I period of participation. If the career planner performs a new ESS calculation to support program-funded training, the career planner must document in an ASSET case note the change in the participant's circumstances that led to the new calculation being performed.

The career planner may wish to perform a new ESS calculation as an informational tool, even if a participant is not interested in training. Other Ways to Use the ESS Standard

Career planners may wish to use ESS calculations in a variety of other ways to increase the quality of services provided under the Adult Program and Dislocated Worker Program. Examples include: