Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Brief Descriptions



Following is a short description of each of the five sites selected for study. Each description includes a summary of the state One-Stop and/or workforce system, the status of welfare reform, the local economy, the One-Stop model, its services and partners, and its data systems and budget. Additional information about each site is included in the Appendix.

Workforce Development Center, Marshalltown Iowa:

This Center is the collocation of seven agencies, including strong participation of the local community college, with oversight by a local Workforce Development Board. The welfare agency was intentionally not co-located with the Center. The Center serves a predominantly rural, four-county region with county satellite offices. Services and offices are partially integrated -- i.e., offices are clustered by program, program referrals are coordinated personally by staff, and the Resource Room is jointly staffed. Significant focus is placed on services to support community college education and training, despite recent declines in direct funding for education and training as part of Iowa's PROMISE JOBS program.

Kenosha County Job Center, Kenosha Wisconsin:

This Center offers one of the most integrated collocation models in the country, with a long list of state, county, non-profit and for-profit organizations co-located in a small shopping center. Applicants for welfare and other economic assistance benefits (Food Stamps, child care, health care, etc.) are assisted in the same reception area as all other Center users. Economic assistance, support services, job readiness, and job search are coordinated by case managers in interagency teams which work together in an open office arrangement. The Center serves this intermediate-sized urban location midway between Milwaukee and Chicago under the leadership of Kenosha County and the partners collocated there, with two satellite locations to serve rural portions of the county.

Tarrant County Resource Connection, Fort Worth Texas:

The Resource Connection offers a collocation model for 14 agencies in 12 buildings on a 92 acre campus near the South Campus of the Tarrant County Junior College and not far from several of the highest need areas of the county. The state welfare agency (not now co-located) is currently constructing offices on the campus, the former site of a state school for persons with mental retardation. Services are partially integrated with interagency collaboration aided by a state-of-the art data system for client intake, eligibility determination and referral, and case management that serves all partner agencies. Under the Texas JOBS Program, mandated work requirements were among the least restrictive of the sites examined, exempting parents with children under five years of age. Oversight is provided by an advisory board representing partner agencies, with the county taking the role as lead financial and management partner.

Northwest Michigan JobNet, Traverse City Michigan:

JobNet serves a predominantly rural, 10-county region on the south shore of Lake Michigan. Grand Traverse County is the primary urban center for a region that is emerging as a destination tourist location, but still suffers from structural changes in the automobile industry. The collocation model emerging at the central site in Traverse City brings together state employment services, JTPA, community college resources, and will soon include economic services (welfare) offices in a new facility. As in Marshalltown, services are partially integrated with offices clustered by program and program referrals handled personally. Outlying counties are currently served by four other sites, with an additional 3 sites anticipated. Oversight is provided by a local Workforce Development Board, with significant leadership by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments.

Whatcom County WorkNet Consortium, Bellingham Washington:

The WorkNet Consortium offers a "first stop" or "no wrong door" model of service integration for four partners in northwestern Washington. This model provides communications linkages for physically separate state employment services, economic services (including welfare), the area PIC, and technical and community colleges. Clients at any one of these sites can obtain information on and referral to the services in the rest of the system -- which also maintains a common Center for Workforce Training -- hence, the "first stop" or "no wrong door" concept. Unlike the other sites, the WorkNet Consortium did not have early funding from DoL, and was experiencing high unemployment relative to the national rate. At the time of our visit, Washington had not yet implemented its WorkFirst program and was in the midst of a short-lived attempt to tighten mandates for participation in the JOBS program under waivers from the federal law.

As these site summaries begin to illustrate, local institutional and economic circumstances, along with the evolutionary status of state welfare programs, can play a significant role in the design and focus of one-stop systems. As a result, it is important to pay close attention to these contextual factors as we assess the strengths and weaknesses of the different models.