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The Future of WIOA: Many Providers, One Network

The Future of WIOA: Many Providers, One Network

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was signed into law in 2014 to replace its predecessor, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The goal of WIOA was to expand WIA to include more regional collaboration among educational institutions, training providers, and human service programs such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). WIOA also expanded WIA’s One-Stop career centers and required that they collaborate with partner programs such as Youth Workforce Investment Activities, Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Programs, Native American Programs, and more.

Unfortunately, this vision of one network that connects employers, students, job seekers, and other service providers has been hard to implement due to the lack of a proper framework for communication and collaboration. Stakeholders remain just as disconnected and siloed as they did in the days of WIA, and communication bottlenecks regularly slow progress for clients, providers, and communities. WIOA also has additional funding sources to support collaboration between partner agencies. Still, stakeholders lack an organized and efficient way to determine eligibility, track braided funding, and share fiscal resources. WIOA service providers desperately need a modern case management solution to effectively serve their communities.

Managing Client Complexities 

It’s no wonder that organizations struggle to collaborate. The human experience is complex, and clients bring multifaceted stories and circumstances with interweaving needs. Clients can often benefit from more than one service, or they may have goals that require certain basic needs to be met as a prerequisite.

For example, an adult wants to return to school to get a better job and increase their family’s income. However, they may require childcare assistance, so they have more free time to devote to classes or SNAP benefits to help offset their grocery bill. An admissions counselor at a community college needs an efficient way to connect the student with the external resources that will empower them to succeed.

The Case Manager’s Dilemma

When unable to meet basic needs, individuals can get stuck in a cycle that makes it challenging to move forward and meet new goals. If they go to a One-Stop center or social services department for support, the case manager at that office is saddled with a massive task: gathering information, peeling apart the layers of their client’s experience and needs, and understanding the complexities of their situation. Then, they must determine what resources the client might be eligible for, in what order to distribute the resources, and how to triage care effectively so that all the client’s needs are met.

Cross-collaboration between multiple agencies is the goal, but it’s tricky. Unfortunately, the case manager often only has access to a fraction of the resources that a client needs. Paper records and privacy regulations like HIPAA make it challenging to securely share client information. Referrals may get lost or forgotten about, or the client may need to go to multiple offices and fill out similar forms with the same information – time-consuming redundancies that deter clients from following through and getting connected to resources.

Single Network Collaboration for Optimized Outcomes

Workforce development and social services need to be connected on a single network to empower service providers to collaborate more effectively and improve client outcomes. There are several types of interdependence that service providers may encounter: pooled, sequential, and reciprocal. Below, we’ll discuss these interdependence types and how single network collaboration can support service providers in their coordination efforts.

Pooled Interdependence

Pooled interdependence occurs when multiple stakeholders work independently but towards the same goal. For example, an employer is interested in attracting apprentices for their apprenticeship program. An unemployment office is assisting a job seeker who is interested in applying for an apprenticeship program. And perhaps a community college is helping a student pursue educational opportunities that will lead to career advancement. In each situation, the outcome goal is the same: connect a job seeker with a relevant apprenticeship position. Within the current fragmented system, communication between these entities may be broken or nonexistent, leading to delayed service outcomes and slower program and client growth overall.

However, if these organizations were connected on a single network with a single point of communication, collaboration could happen seamlessly. A platform like myOneFlow functions as virtual recruitment software that connects employers, job seekers, community colleges, and other workforce development agencies. Not only can job seekers view open positions for jobs or apprenticeships, but myOneFlow’s AI-powered workflows can identify and suggest positions that might be especially relevant or interesting to clients based on their user profiles.

Automated workflows can also nudge clients, students, employers, or case managers with required next steps, such as completing/reviewing forms, scheduling a virtual interview, or submitting documents. The apprenticeship tracking software follows apprentices through their journey, recording ongoing program metrics such as placement rate, retention, and post-program employment. The ability to measure and track outcome metrics over time provides staff with valuable information about the health of programs and can be used to identify specific areas of improvement.

Sequential Interdependence

Sequential interdependence arises when one provider or stakeholder relies on another to complete a task. For example, for certain applicants, SNAP benefits are only available for a limited time unless applicants can prove they are participating in work-related activities. A social service worker helping an individual access SNAP benefits may want to refer them to a local workforce office to connect them with employment resources. Conversely, a SNAP applicant may need their workforce case manager to submit documentation proving they are engaged in work-related activities. Without a unified framework for interagency collaboration, coordinating these communications may unfairly fall to the client, leading to process stagnation and delayed service access.

Having the right workforce development software in place can transform this fragmented process into a seamless and efficient workflow by giving providers the tools they need to connect all the moving pieces for their clients. myOneFlow is HIPAA-compliant and includes a closed-loop referral system that enables providers to securely send referrals and client records to partner agencies. They can set user permissions that grant limited access so that only relevant personal information is shared. Configurable workflows automatically notify staff of outstanding tasks, such as signing forms or scheduling appointments. And referrals are logged and tracked in the client’s record, so it’s easy to follow up and confirm that the referred services were provided.

Reciprocal Interdependence

Reciprocal interdependence occurs when service providers must continually adjust in response to each other. For example, an adult learner enrolling in skills training for a new career path is likely eligible for financial assistance from multiple stakeholders. These might include the community college hosting the training, a regional workforce development agency, and perhaps a local social services office.

This braided funding can be incredibly supportive for grantees but is complex to manage and track. Each funding source comes with its own eligibility and reporting requirements and may be managed by varying agencies. WIOA was designed to support this kind of multi-source braided funding from partner programs. However, agencies need a unified platform to efficiently collaborate and manage the complexities of multiple grant tracking.

WIOA reporting requirements are constantly changing, and a static platform doesn’t have the agility necessary to keep up, especially when providers track multiple funding streams. A configurable solution like myOneFlow has the capabilities to connect collaborating organizations and manage, track, and report on braided funding. Each agency can create unique workflows while automatically sharing required data with partners in real time. Rules-based workflows determine eligibility and collect required data throughout the client’s journey, allowing staff more time to connect with clients.

Are You in the Network?

The spirit of WIOA is an interconnected network of resources and providers that supports the economic growth of individuals and communities. myOneFlow helps bring that spirit to life. A suite of fully configurable modules connects WIOA service providers in case management, fiscal tracking, referrals, reporting, and more. Seamless communication and data sharing help break down information siloes, so staff can better collaborate across different agencies and partner programs.  Contact our team today to schedule a personalized demo and see how myOneFlow can serve your organization and connect your community.

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