Employment Assistance Services

Employment assistance services may include classroom, online and/or computer instruction, on-the-job instruction, services that assist individuals in securing employment, acquiring learning skills, and/or increasing earning potential. Learning skills include those skills that can be used to secure and retain a job, including the acquisition of vocational licenses and/or certificates.

Which HHS programs might be used to provide these services?

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF funds are used to provide a range of employment services and work supports, as well as cash benefits, to needy families with at least one child (or to pregnant women).  TANF funds may also be used to promote job preparation and work. TANF provides assistance to needy families in the form of cash benefits, subsidized employment or transitional jobs, education, job training, job placement, child care or other work supports, and other services that help people acquire and maintain jobs.

Who is eligible?

Each jurisdiction determines its eligibility criteria for TANF benefits and services.  Many families experiencing homelessness are likely to meet income eligibility requirements for TANF services. There may be additional requirements, including participation in work activities, associated with eligibility for TANF cash assistance or other TANF benefits. 

How is it financed?

Funding is provided as a block grant to each State, the District of Columbia, as well as the territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  These jurisdictions have broad discretion to offer a range of relevant benefits and services.

How can services be coordinated with homeless service providers?

TANF agencies, or community-based organizations they contract with, can offer comprehensive approaches that include multiple programs and supports, such as combining a housing benefit with transportation, childcare, and/or job placement services.  TANF agencies can also partner with local homeless providers to coordinate and streamline services delivered across the two service systems.  At the caseworker level, coordination can facilitate the integration of both housing and employment interventions, improving the performance of both service systems and enhancing the outcomes of families.  Co-location of staff can be used to help ensure vulnerable families are connected to the full array of assistance they need to achieve self-sufficiency.  Developing mechanisms to share client-level data can help both systems evaluate their performance in minimizing homelessness, increasing self-sufficiency, refining interventions, and improving the targeting of scarce resources.

For more information on the TANF-ACF-IM-2013-01 (Use of TANF Funds to Serve Homeless Families and Families at Risk of Experiencing Homelessness), visit

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/tanf-acf-im-2013-01

How can it be used to provide employment services?

A range of employment-specific services are allowable as general supportive services, including but not limited to education, job training, job placement and subsidized employment services. The role of employment in reducing homelessness is critical.  Homeless families and individuals require sustainable employment to pay for housing.  When families have sustainable employment, they become less dependent on services such as rental assistance.  This, in turn, makes scarce agency resources available to other program areas, and may allow agencies to provide rental assistance to a greater number of homeless families and individuals.

For more information on the TANF-ACF-IM-2013-01 (Use of TANF Funds to Serve Homeless Families and Families at Risk of Experiencing Homelessness), visit

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/tanf-acf-im-2013-01.

State homeless service agencies have demonstrated a variety of strategies and structures for implementing employment services into their work. Whether an agency partners with its State and/or local TANF agency and Workforce Investment Board for employment services, or provides in-house, specialized employment services aimed at meeting the specific needs of their clients, an integrative, collaborative approach to employment and housing services empowers clients to attain social and economic self-sufficiency and independence.  Improving coordination between the provision of housing and employment services can help each system achieve interrelated goals.  Permanent housing provides a stable platform that allows parents to achieve their employment goals and increase self-sufficiency.  Successful connection to employment increases a family’s income and promotes a family’s overall housing stability.

Partnerships

In addition to offering a range of benefits and services, TANF agencies can serve as active partners in State, regional, and local homeless efforts, such as the Continuum of Care.  The expertise of TANF agency leaders can be helpful in ensuring State and local efforts are deploying the full array of available supports to prevent and end family homelessness.  Partnerships can also lead to the identification of strategies that TANF agencies can adopt to minimize homelessness among families receiving assistance. For more information on the TANF-ACF-IM-2013-01 (Use of TANF Funds to Serve Homeless Families and Families at Risk of Experiencing Homelessness), visit

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/resource/tanf-acf-im-2013-01.

Other HHS programs

Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)

Funding is used to provide a broad range of services and activities to reduce poverty. In most cases, CSBG funds are allocated to Community Action Agencies (CAAs).  Contact the local Community Action Agency to identify partnership opportunities and get more information about how local CSBG funds are allocated.

Who is eligible? 

The Federal Poverty Guidelines must be used as the primary criterion in determining income eligibility. In order to receive assistance under any CSBG project involving direct services, an applicant's total household income must not exceed 125% of the poverty level. Household is defined by the Bureau of Census as consisting of all persons who occupy a housing unit (i.e., house or apartment), whether they are related to each other or not. Total household income is based on income at the time of application.

How is it financed?

CSBG funding is provided as a block grant to States, tribes and territories.  States pass through no less than 90 percent of block grant funds to a network of local entities, primarily Community Action Agencies (CAAs), and some local governments, migrant and seasonal farm worker organizations, that delivery the services in the communities.  CAAs are non-profit agencies created as a network of entities by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.  States contract with CAAs to plan, develop, implement, evaluate and provide local services. 

Where can I find CSBG grantees with which to partner?

Social Services Block Grant (SSBG)

SSBG Funding is allocated to each State or territory to meet the needs of its residents through locally relevant social services, through programs that help people to achieve or maintain economic self-sufficiency to prevent, reduce or eliminate dependency on social services.

Who is eligible? 

Each State or territory has the flexibility to determine what services (within the broad service categories) will be provided; set the eligibility limits (to low-income households) to receive services; and determine how funds are distributed among various services within the State.

How is it financed?

SSBG funding is allocated to each State or territory to meet the needs of its residents through locally relevant social services, through programs that help people to achieve or maintain economic self-sufficiency to prevent, reduce or eliminate dependency on social services.

Where can I find SSBG grantees with which to partner?

SSBG Grantees by State

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