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3 min read

The Evolving Role of Virtual for a Post-Pandemic WIOA

The Evolving Role of Virtual for a Post-Pandemic WIOA

The COVID-19 pandemic forced WIOA service providers to rapidly transform their operations. In many cases, this meant switching from paper-based to entirely virtual systems in months – a digital transformation that would likely have taken years otherwise. And, due to the nature of the pandemic, human service organizations didn’t have the luxury of pausing, assessing their systems, and picking back up later, like many other industries. The economic fallout and subsequent influx of federal funding from the CARES Act increased the pressure on organizations already burdened by a lack of staff and adequate organizational resources. 

On the other side of the pandemic, we collectively find ourselves settling into a new normal, albeit a different “normal” than before. While there is no longer the same need for everything to happen virtually, it’s impossible to evolve backward and undo the technological progression that's been made.

An Honest Review & Technology Audit

To ensure that clients are receiving the best services, WIOA providers should closely examine their current digital systems to determine what’s working well, what needs to be adjusted, and – perhaps – what needs to be dismantled. After all, digital does not always mean superior. The advantages or disadvantages of virtual WIOA management reflect the organization of your program and its responsiveness to your community's needs.

Consider the following examples:

  • Virtual service delivery can help reduce barriers for individuals who live in rural areas or don’t have access to reliable transportation. However, if in-person services are not offered at all, this increases barriers for clients who aren’t tech-savvy or lack reliable internet connectivity.
  • Many online services include translation features that help non-English speakers better understand and access resources. Conversely, non-English speakers might feel intimidated or deterred from seeking resources if they don’t think they have access to in-person communication with someone who speaks their native language.
  • Technology can help increase efficiency and optimize workflows. For example, automated workflows can quickly determine program eligibility, automatically collect required data, and generate reports to help organizations stay compliant. However, relying on multiple software programs or spreadsheets can add to the staff burden of manual data entry. Transferring data between programs or spreadsheets is an inefficient use of staff time and increases the risk of a data leak, lost information, or data entry error.
  • Technology can enhance security by digitizing records and encrypting communication. However, if clients or staff are storing or sharing sensitive information on public devices or across insecure networks, like public Wi-Fi, there is an increased risk of a security breach.

Considerations for WIOA Service Providers

Digital resources must be used as a thoughtful supplement to in-person services to be effective. There is no one-size-fits-all approach; flexibility and adaptability are critical to meeting your clients' needs.

When performing your technology audit, consider the following:

Are clients or staff using personal devices or home networks for virtual service delivery? Are these devices/networks secure? Training clients and staff in security best practices are critical for protecting sensitive information. Using software that has security features built in can help protect client information as well.

What are the specific needs of your clientele? Do they benefit more from virtual services or in-person services? What aspects of each are helpful for them? How can you use available technology to increase access and flexibility for service delivery rather than creating a more constrictive system? Creating a client survey about how they prefer to receive services can offer valuable insights.

How are you measuring and tracking outcomes? What metrics are you using to gauge program success? Drill down on your analytics and reporting to gather concise information about how to improve your systems. Consider utilizing a system that can generate pipeline reports. These reports can show you where clients fall through the cracks or exit their journey before connecting with the resources they need.

What software are you currently using for your various operations? Does it support you in serving your clients or cause extra work for staff? Do you have to use a variety of programs for different organizational processes, like case management, reporting, and grant tracking? Choosing software that can perform multiple functions will dramatically increase your office’s efficiency.

The Case for Investing in Your Digital Infrastructure

Combining the personal touch of in-person services with modern technological tools can empower your organization to expand its reach and boost operational efficiency. Human services will always benefit from a human touch – but the right digital tools can maximize your impact and better connect you with your larger service network.

An investment in your digital infrastructure is an investment in your clients and community. myOneFlow’s suite of case management and workflow automation features supports WIOA service providers in serving clients virtually and in person. As a comprehensive, all-in-one solution, myOneFlow eliminates the need for staff to juggle multiple programs or transfer information between systems. View our package offerings or contact our team today to discuss your organization’s unique needs and discover how myOneFlow can help.

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