Agency: City of Kenosha Housing Authority (CKHA)
(Size of WtW Program: 200 vouchers)
Research indicates that many of the families still receiving TANF
face multiple barriers to employment, including low education and
skill levels, a poor work history, and childcare and transportation
difficulties. To be successful, housing authorities need to provide
program participants with a broad array of supportive services,
including case management, life skills training, job training, and
job placement. However, few housing authorities have the staff,
resources, or expertise to provide the level of employment and supportive
services that these participants need. Further, given the limited
timeframe for lease up, few housing authorities have the time to
devote to such activities.
Solution: Financial Employment Planner (FEP) Teams in Kenosha, WI
To tackle this challenge, the City of Kenosha Housing Authority
used the WtW Housing Voucher Program as an opportunity to integrate
itself into the cooperative staffing structure of the Kenosha County
Job Center (KCJC). The KCJC began in 1990 when Kenosha County became
the first Wisconsin county to integrate its Economic Support Division
(formerly AFDC services), Job Opportunity Center (formerly JTPA
job services), and Basic Skills Training Program (formerly JOBS)
within a community one-stop center.
Today, the Job Center is a collaborative grouping of related service
providers working side-by-side. Partner agencies located in the
center include Job Corp, Head Start, Gateway Technical College,
Goodwill Industries, the Kenosha Department of Human Services, and
Wisconsin Job Services. Services offered at the Job Center range
from job search assistance, basic skills instruction, and customized
training opportunities to childcare resource and referral, SSI advocacy,
paternity establishment, and child support enforcement services.
Economic subsidies offered at the Job Center include childcare subsidies,
food stamps, medical assistance, and TANF assistance.
To help TANF recipients transition from welfare to self-sufficiency,
the Job Center has developed Financial Employment Planning (FEP)
Teams. Each team consists of five individuals:
- Economic Support Specialist
This county employee is responsible for determining eligibility
for all programs-including Food Stamps, Childcare, Medical Assistance,
Badgercare, and Wisconsin Works (Wisconsin's TANF Program).
- Case Manager
This staff member from the local nonprofit partner organization,
Goodwill Industries, assists participants in developing an employability
plan and helps them obtain needed services by coordinating with
other FEP team members.
- Employment Support Specialist
This Goodwill staff member provides skills training and employment
support to individuals in the Wisconsin Works and Food Stamp Employment
and Training Programs.
- Job Placement Specialist
As a State employee, this individual works with both employers
and participants to locate job openings and place clients into
- Childcare Case Manager
This Goodwill staff member assists both program participants and
community childcare providers to ensure that participants are
able to take part in program activities and reach their goal of
obtaining and maintaining employment.
This interagency coordination between FEP team members has created
a seamless service environment for participants, who no longer have
to deal separately with each agency. As a result, participants have
more time to focus on what is really important-finding a job and
becoming self-sufficient. The interagency team approach is effective
because of the different skill sets required to perform employment
and economic self-sufficiency planning tasks.
For example, the technical expertise required to establish eligibility
for Wisconsin Works, Food Stamps, and Medical Assistance is substantially
different from the interpretive skills needed to process assessment
results and to design and negotiate employment plans. Likewise,
the skills necessary for effective case management differ from the
skills necessary to work with an employer who is having difficulty
transitioning a Wisconsin Works participant from a trial job to
an unsubsidized position. By utilizing a team approach, the county
has simplified the process for participants while serving them in
an efficient, cost-effective manner.
To integrate itself into the Kenosha County Job Center, CKHA first
hired a WtW program coordinator who is housed at the Job Center.
The WtW coordinator is responsible for training other Job Center
staff on the Section 8 and WtW voucher programs, as well providing
ongoing support and technical assistance on housing issues and benefits
to voucher recipients. The WtW coordinator is also responsible for
designing and implementing a comprehensive outreach program to current
and future Job Center participants who may be eligible for Section
8, conducting outreach to area landlords, and participating in collaborative
management initiatives at the Job Center.
The FEP team approach to providing welfare to work programming
has been the hallmark of the Job Center's service delivery system.
Since its inception in 1989, this approach has resulted in the placement
of over 7,500 welfare recipients into unsubsidized employment.
Because of the strong success of the Job Center in facilitating
employment among program participants, Kenosha County has been identified
as one of a handful of Learning Laboratories nationwide qualified
to provide technical assistance to other communities developing
one-stop career centers.
Contact: Cyndi Zarletti, Housing-to-Work
Program Coordinator, City of Kenosha Housing Authority,
Human Services Building, Kenosha, WI 56410
(262) 697-4641; CZarlett@co.kenosha.wi.us