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Table of Contents

Chapter 2) The One-Stop (Job Center) Delivery System

Chapter 3) Program Funding and Grants Management

Chapter 4) Fiscal Management

Chapter 5) Non-Discrimination/Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

Chapter 6) Complaints, Grievances, and Appeals

Chapter 7) Individual Training Accounts and Eligible Training Programs

Chapter 8) Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs

Chapter 9) Rapid Response

Chapter 12) File Documentation

WIOA Title I-A & I-B Policy & Procedure Manual
Ch. 8) Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs

8.3 Program Design

8.3.4 Economic Self-Sufficiency

Effective date: July 1, 2017

Revised date: June 28, 2018

Revised date: _____, 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 boards to follow a process for determining ESS standards for Adult 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 and Dislocated Worker Programs.

DWD-DET's standard takes into account the minimum amount of income required for a household4 to meet its basic expenses, 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), by household5 size.6 DWD-DET's WIOA Title I ESS Standard

Definition of Economic Self-Sufficiency

The Adult Program considers eligible individuals to be economically self-sufficient if they:

The Dislocated Worker Program considers eligible individuals to be economically self-sufficient if they meet all the above criteria and:

  • have an individual income that meets or exceeds 80 percent of their dislocation wage;
  • OR
  • have an individual income that meets or exceeds the 75th percentile of wages for all occupations in their county of residence.9

The ESS Calculator

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

To perform a calculation, the career planner enters each individual's current information into the calculator based on the field prompts. The calculator then generates an output based on the criteria outlined above and the individual's information as inputted into the calculator's required fields. The output shows:

(1) A matrix identifying:

  • the standard and the increased threshold (i.e., target amount) for each criterion in DWD-DET's ESS definition;
  • the individual's current individual and household income as entered into the ESS calculator; and
  • if the individual's income meets the target income for each criterion in DWD-DET's ESS definition.

(2) A determination of whether the individual meets DWD-DET's ESS definition.

(3) A breakdown of the target monthly ESS level by expense categories and any possible tax credits.

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.

Self-reporting by the individual is an acceptable source of the information used for the ESS calculation. The career planner must document self-reported information in writing with a signed attestation by the individual that the information is accurate. This may be accomplished by including the income and household composition information in the local program's intake form or having the individual sign a printout of the ESS calculator's results. REQUIREMENTS FOR APPLYING THE ESS STANDARD

There are two times when an ESS calculation is required — after eligibility determination and to support placing a participant into training.

1. After Eligibility Determination: Career planners must perform an ESS calculation after an individual has been found eligible for the Adult Program or the Dislocated Worker Program. DWD-DET requires career planners to perform the calculation within 30 days after eligibility determination. When creating a new ESS calculation in CEPT, to select "Status at Enrollment" as the "Calculation Reason."

  • Note: Self-sufficiency is not part of the Adult Program or the Dislocated Worker Program eligibility. Individuals who meet program eligibility criteria are eligible regardless of whether they are economically self-sufficient.

2. Training Approval: Before a career planner may approve a training program, the participant must have a valid ESS calculation saved in CEPT. An ESS calculation is considered valid for 30 calendar days. A calculation generated for any purpose (e.g., done after eligibility determination) can be used to support training for the period it is valid. If there is not a valid ESS calculation in CEPT, the career planner must contact the participant for updated information and perform a new ESS calculation (and select "Training" as the "Calculation Reason"). The career planner must generate the new ESS calculation before training funds can be obligated or expended.

A participant can receive WIOA Title I funded training only if:

  • the participant is not considered economically self-sufficient and needs training to obtain economic self-sufficiency;
  • OR
  • the participant is considered economically self-sufficient but is unlikely to remain so without training.10
  • Note: There are two situations in which training services may be appropriate for participants who are economically self-sufficient at the time training services are approved, but who are expected to lose self-sufficiency:
    1. dislocated workers who are still working.
    2. others who are expected to lose economic self-sufficiency within six months.11 Some examples may include participants who:
      • are expecting a child;
      • have a spouse who will need to stop working (e.g., because of a serious illness or the need to care for an aging parent or a child with an illness/disability).
  • The career planner must document in an ASSET case note the upcoming circumstances that are expected to cause the loss of economic self-sufficiency. Self-reporting by the participant is an acceptable source of the information. Other Ways to Use the ESS Standard

While career planners are required to perform ESS calculations after an individual is found eligible for the program and as part of approving training, they may wish to use them in a variety of other ways to increase the quality of services provided under the Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs. Examples include:

  1. identifying occupations that would likely result in economic self-sufficiency using county-level occupational wage data;
  2. measuring progress for participants embarking on a career pathway;
  3. determining whether a participant has met the program goal of securing employment resulting in economic self-sufficiency; and
  4. using the breakdown of monthly ESS levels from the CEPT calculator to assist the participant with budgeting.

  • 1 WIOA Sec. 2(6)
  • 2 TEGL 03-15, p. 6
  • 3 WIOA Sec. 134(a)(3)(A)(xii); 20 CFR §682.210(p)
  • 4 DWD-DET does not define "household" for purposes of assessing economic self-sufficiency. Career planners are to determine what constitutes an individual's household on a case by case basis, to best address financial responsibilities the individual may have for others (e.g., children and other family members who may not live with the participant full time).
  • 5LLSIL uses the term "family." For purposes of ESS determinations only, career planners are to use household size instead of the potentially stricter definition of "family." The foundation for DWD-DET's ESS standard is household composition, therefore, use of "family" may not allow for equal comparison between the various criteria used in the definition of economic self-sufficiency.
  • 6 82 FR 23595
  • 7DWD-DET contracted with the University of Washington to create an initial statewide data set and report in 2016 to determine the income needed to cover a household's basic needs (aka its ESS level), taking into account household composition and county of residence. The data comes from federal and state sources. DWD-DET plans to refresh the data set approximately every three years to reflect changes in costs of basic needs. More information about the University of Washington's work on this topic can be accessed at
  • 8See footnote 7.
  • 9 The 75th percentile is calculated as part of DWD-DET's Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates.
  • 10 20 CFR §680.210
  • 11 DWD-DET has determined that six months is a reasonable amount of time to consider future changes that could cause a participant to lose self-sufficiency.

Household composition means the number of individuals who are members of a household and their ages.

Eligibility determination means applying the information collected during program registration to the eligibility criteria to see if the individual is eligible for the program.

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