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11.13 Barriers to Employment


11.13.1 Barriers to Employment

Effective date: November 7, 2019

The WIOA State Performance Report requires states to report on performance for participants who meet the definition of "individuals with barriers to employment." "Individuals with barriers to employment" means members of one or more of the following populations:1

  1. Displaced homemakers;
  2. Low-income individuals;
  3. Indians2, Alaska Natives3, and Native Hawaiians4;
  4. Individuals with disabilities, including youth who are individuals with disabilities;
  5. Older individuals;
  6. Offenders/ex-offenders;
  7. Homeless individuals;
  8. Youth who are in or have aged out of foster care;
  9. Individuals who are English language learners, individuals who have low levels of literacy, and individuals facing substantial cultural barriers;
  10. Eligible migrant and seasonal farmworkers;
  11. Individuals within two years of exhausting lifetime eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (aka TANF or "Wisconsin Works (W-2)");
  12. Single parents (including single pregnant women);
  13. Long-term unemployed individuals;
  14. Other groups as the Governor determines to have barriers to employment.

Note: Program staff must report an individual's barriers to employment in ASSET. Program staff must input this information for all individuals accessing Title I programs because local performance accountability measures are adjusted based on participants' characteristics.5

  • 1 WIOA Sec. 3(24)
  • 2 WIOA uses the definition of "Indian" from Section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b).
  • 3 WIOA uses the definitions of "Alaska Native" and a "descendent of a Native" from section 3 of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602 (b) and (r)).
  • 4 WIOA uses the definition of "Native Hawaiian" from section 7207 of the Native Hawaiian Education Act(20 U.S.C. 7517).
  • 5 WIOA Sec. 116(c)(3)

Disability (WIOA Sec. 3(25))

Effective date: August 20, 2018

"Disability" means:

  • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, working, and the operation of major bodily functions
  • a record of such impairment
  • is regarded as having such impairment (which means the individual can establish that s/he has been the subject of a discriminatory action under the American with Disabilities Act because of an actual or perceived impairment whether or not the impairment actually limits a major life activity).

WIOA Sec. 3(25); 42 U.S.C. 12102 (1)-(3)

Older Individual

Effective date: November 7, 2019

"Older individual" means an individual who is age 55 or older.

WIOA Sec. 3(39)


Effective date: November 7, 2019

"Offender" or "ex-offender" means an adult or juvenile who is or has been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process.

WIOA Sec. 3(38)


Effective date: August 20, 2018

"Homeless" means a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This covers the following situations: (1) sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar; (2) living in a motel, hotel, trailer park or campground due to the lack of alternative adequate living accommodations; (3) living in an emergency or transitional shelter; (4) abandoned in a hospital; (5) awaiting foster care placement; (6) using a public or private place for nighttime residence that is not designed for or typically used by human beings for regular sleeping accommodations; (7) a child who has moved in the last 36 months either as a migratory agricultural worker or fisher or with a parent or spouse who is a migratory worker or fisher.

42 U.S.C. 14043e—2(6) ; 42 U.S.C. 11434a(2)

Foster Care

Effective date: August 2, 2018

"Foster Care" means 24-hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardians and for whom the state or tribal agency has placement and care responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, placements in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives, group homes, emergency shelters, residential facilities, child care institutions, and preadoptive homes. A child is in foster care in accordance with this definition regardless of whether the foster care facility is licensed and payments are made by the state, tribal or local agency for the care of the child, whether adoption subsidy payments are being made prior to the finalization of an adoption, or whether there is federal matching of any payments that are made.

45 CFR § 1355.20

English Language Learner

Effective date: August 14, 2023

This eligibility barrier applies if individuals have the limited ability in reading, writing, speaking or comprehending the English language because:
1. English is not their native language;
2. they live in a family or community environment where a language other than English is the dominant language.

WIOA Sec. 3(21); WIOA Sec. 203(7); TEGL 21-16, p. 3

Eligible Migrant Farmworker

Effective date: November 7, 2019

"Eligible migrant farmworker" means a seasonal farmworker whose agricultural labor requires travel to a job site such that the farmworker is unable to return to a permanent place of residence within the same day. The term also includes the farmworker's dependents.

WIOA Sec. 167(i)(2)

Eligible Seasonal Farmworker

Effective date: November 7, 2019

"Eligible seasonal farmworker" means a low-income individual who: 1) for 12 consecutive months out of the 24 months prior to application for the program involved, has been primarily employed in agricultural or fish farming labor that is characterized by chronic unemployment or underemployment; and 2) faces multiple barriers to economic self-sufficiency. The term also includes the farmworker's dependents.

WIOA Sec. 167(i)(3)

Wisconsin Works

Effective date: August 20, 2018

"Wisconsin Works" (W-2) is a limited-time program that provides temporary cash assistance and case management services to low-income parents and pregnant women who engage in work activities.

Long-term Unemployed

Effective date: November 7, 2019

"Long-term Unemployed" means individuals who have been unemployed for 27 consecutive weeks or more.

TEGL 19-16, p. 9


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