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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

ARRA Youth Questions and Answers

 

Week ending 7/21/09

Question:  Which performance measures are required for youth in Recovery-Act funded activities and non-Recovery-Act funded activities?

Answer: 

  • If youth are only served between May 1 and September 30 (the “summer” period) and participate in summer employment, the only performance indicator required for these youth is the work readiness indicator.  These youth would not be reported in the regular WIA Youth reports (WIASRD, quarterly, or annual reports) regardless of service mix.
  • If a youth served with Recovery Act funds does not participate in summer employment or is served before May 1 or beyond September 30, he/she would also be included in the regular WIA reports (WIASRD, annual report, quarterly report) and be subject to the full set of WIA Youth measures or youth common measures for those states that have a waiver to report common performance measure outcomes only.
  • States may apply for a waiver that would allow states to use the work readiness indicator as the only indicator of performance for 18 to 24 years old youth who participate in a work experience only beyond the summer months.

Reference:  TEGL 24-08, Workforce Investment Act and Wagner-Peyser Act Performance Accountability Reporting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, dated May 21, 2009.

Meaningful Work Experience.

Work experience is the core component of a summer employment program.  All states and local areas should ensure that participating worksites introduce and reinforce the rigors, demands, rewards, and sanctions associated with holding a job.  States and local areas should make an effort to match worksites with participants’ interests and goals.  Some states and local areas have created work experience activities where the learning of work readiness skills is acquired on the job.  This may be an acceptable model for older youth who already possess the necessary academic skills.  Also, pre-apprenticeship programs are an effective way of training youth for registered apprenticeship programs and can be a valuable component of summer employment opportunities for youth.  To succeed in the workplace, today’s jobseekers and current employers should be able to build relationships with peers, managers, and customers.  Consequently, work experience provided to summer employment participants should be structured to impart measurable communication, interpersonal, decision-making, and learning skills.  (Reference TEGL 14-08, Section E)

Question:

1.  What is the Lower Living Standard Income Level (LLSIL)?

Answer:  The term is defined as the income level (adjusted for regional, metropolitan, urban and rural differences and family size) determined annually by the Secretary of Labor based on the most recent lower living of a four-person urban family budget estimates, previously published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Currently, BLS provides data to ETA through which ETA develops the LLSIL tables.

Question:

2.  Who Uses the LLSIL?

Answer:  State Workforce Agencies, State/Local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), and One-Stop Career Centers use the LLSIL for determining eligibility for youth and adults for certain WIA services.

Question:

3.  How is the LLSIL Used?  T

Answer: The updated LLSIL is used for multiple purposes under WIA.  The 70 percent LLSIL is one of the factors to allocate WIA Youth and Adult program funds.  Moreover, the 70 percent LLSIL is used in the definition of Disadvantaged Youth and Adults in WIA.

Availability.  The current and previous LLSIL updates can be found at:http://www.doleta.gov/llsil/2009/.

Reference TEN No. 41-08, dated April 28, 2009, Subject:  Notice of Determination of Lower Living Standard Income Level (LLSIL) (PY) 2009.

Question:  Should the "Program-to-Date" column on form ETA-9149 (Youth Served with WIA Recovery Act Resources) include participants serviced with Recovery Act funds prior to May 1, 2009?

Answer: Yes.  We recognize that the specifications indicate May 1 as the start of the reporting period, however, Recovery Act funds were made available prior to May 1 and it is possible that some youth were served prior to the May/June period.  Unlike the Adult, Dislocated Worker and Employment Service programs, states must distinguish youth participants served with Recovery Act funds from youth participants served with regular WIA funds.  Therefore, states have the ability to add any youth participants funded with Recovery Act funds prior to May 1, 2009 in the "Program-to-Date" column in the first monthly report (note: those served prior to May 1 should not be included in the “Current Month” column.

Week ending 7/2/09

In serving disadvantaged, disconnected, low income youth, please keep in mind-- The White House Task Force Report identified the following as the neediest youth:

  • Out-of-school youth
  • Children of incarcerated parents;
  • Court-involved youth;
  • Youth at risk of court involvement;
  • Homeless and runaway youth;
  • Migrant youth;
  • Youth most at risk of dropping out;
  • Youth aging out of foster care;
  • Indian and Native American youth; and
  • Youth with disabilities

Questions regarding wage and hour and stipends, along with specific cases should be directed to your local Wage and Hour Division (WHD) staff.  They are better suited to answer those questions since they are based on localities (counties/state, etc.).  I have spoken to my WHD counterpart and she suggests that each of you should make that connection/partnership started with your WHD counterpart in your states, if you haven’t done so already.  The hotline to the National Office’s Wage and Hour is: 1-866-4-USWAGE. 

I was provided an informative link, which I’ve attached below:    

Shortcut to: http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/hoursworked/screenER2.asp

Question:  How is the “requires additional assistance to complete an educational program, or to secure and hold employment criterion in § 664.200(c)(6) defined and documented?

Answer:  Definitions and eligibility documentation requirements regarding the “requires additional assistance to complete an educational program, or to secure and hold employment” criterion of § 664.200(c)(6) may be established at the State or local level.  In cases where the State Board establishes state policy on this criterion, the policy must be included in the State Plan.  (WIA sec. 101(13)(C)(iv).)

Question:  How is the “deficient in basic literacy skills” criterion in § 664.200(c)(1) defined and documented?

Answer:

(a) Definitions and eligibility documentation requirements regarding the “deficient in basic literacy skills” criterion in § 664.200(c)(1) may be established at the State or local level.  These definitions may establish such criteria as are needed to address State or local concerns, and must include a determination that an individual:

(1)    Computes or solves problems, reads, writes, or speaks English at or below the 8th grade level on a generally accepted standardized test or a comparable score on a criterion-referenced test; or

(2)    Is unable to compute or solve problems, read, write or speak English at a level necessary to function on the job, in the individual’s family or in society.  (WIA secs. 101(19), 203(12).)

(b) In cases where the State Board establishes State policy on this criterion, the policy must be included in the State plan. (WIA secs. 101(13)(C)(i), 101 (19).)

Question:  Who is eligible for youth services?

Answer:  An eligible youth is defined, under WIA sec. 101(13) as an individual who:

(a)   Is age 14 though 21;  (NOTE--ARRA expanded age is 14-24)

(b)   Is a low income individual, as defined in the WIA section 101(25); and

(c)    Is within one or more of the following categories:

(1)    Deficient in basic literacy skills;

(2)    School dropout;

(3)    Homeless, runaway, or foster child;

(4)    Pregnant or parenting;

(5)    Offender; or

(6)    Is an individual (including a youth with a disability who requires additional assistance to complete an educational program, or to secure and hold employment. (WIA sec. 101(13).)

Priority of Service for Veterans and Eligible Spouses.   

Given the expanded age range to 24 under the Recovery Act, states and local areas may encounter an increased volume of veterans.  Veterans age 21 to 24 have a particularly high incidence of unemployment immediately upon discharge.  States and local areas are required to provide priority of service for veterans and eligible spouses pursuant to 20 CFR part 1010, the regulations implementing priority of service for veterans and eligible spouses in Department of Labor job training programs under the Jobs for Veterans Act published at 73Fed. Reg 78132 on December 19, 2008.

Week ending 6/13/09

Question:  What happens to youth (ages 22 -24 year old and served with Recovery Act funds) that participate beyond the summer months? 

Answer:  ETA encourages states and/or local areas who serve 22 to 24 years old youth with Recovery Act funds beyond the summer to co-enroll them in a WIA Adult and/or Dislocated Worker program when appropriate.  (TEGL 24-08)

Question:  Will there be a provision that allows for flexibility to enroll youth whose parent or parents have been laid off to allow these individuals to participate in summer youth employment?

Answer:  Unfortunately no.  The eligibility requirements in terms of income and barriers that apply in WIA continue to apply for the Recovery Act.  There is no flexibility in terms of eligibility.

Question:  Would a participant receiving additional services during enrollment in the summer employment component have to be counted in the common measures?

Answer:   No.  The work readiness portion of the skill attainment rate will be the only indicator used for youth that participate in "summer employment" only.  Summer employment must include a work experience and may include any set of allowable WIA youth services that occur during the summer months (May 1 - September 30).  Further details may be found in TEGL 14-08, section 16.E. 

Question:  Is a youth 24 years of age eligible for summer and year round programming?

Answer: The increase in age eligibility to 24 is for all youth activities under the Recovery Act, including both summer and year-round programming.  However, this is only for Recovery Act funding and does not apply to the regular WIA youth funding where age eligibility remains through age 21. 

Question:  The Recovery Act only requires a work readiness indicator to be used for youth who participate in summer employment.  Can states also use a work readiness indicator for youth who only participate in work experience?

ANSWER:  If a youth participates in a work experience between May 1 – September 30, it would be considered summer employment and the work readiness indicator would be the only measure that would apply.  If a youth participates in work experience outside the summer months, states may request a waiver of the youth performance measures (either the seven statutory youth measures or the common measures as applicable) to apply to Recovery Act funds for out-of-school youth ages 18-24 served beyond the summer months who participate in work experience.  This waiver would allow states to use the work readiness indicator as the only indicator of performance for such out-of-school youth, the same measure that applies to summer youth only participants.  The waiver would only be applicable for the first six moths following the summer of 2009 (i.e., Oct 2009 to March 2010.  The waiver would only apply to youth served through WIA Youth program funds made available through the Recovery Act.

In recognition that many older and out-of-school youth would need supportive services to enable them to participate in work experience, this waiver can be applied to out-of-school youth ages 18-24 that receive supportive services in addition to participating in work experience.  The waiver would not apply to such youth participating in other WIA youth program elements. 

Week ending 06/06/09

Question:  What are the income guidelines for eligibility for youth to be served under the Recovery Act?

Answer:  Eligibility determination for Recovery Act WIA youth programs is the same as eligibility determination for regular WIA youth formula funds, with the exception of the expansion of age eligibility to 14-24 years for Recovery Act funds.  To be eligible for services under the Recovery Act youth formula, an individual must be between the ages of 14-24, have a listed barrier, and be a low-income individual.  The term “low income individual” is defined at Section 101 (25).  See also 20 CFR 664.200.

Question:  For the work readiness outcome, must the youth obtain a nationally recognized certification or are local areas allowed to use a local pre and post test to document gains?

Answer:  A nationally recognized certification is not required for the work readiness indicator.  Local areas are required to determine whether a measurable increase in work readiness skills has occurred through a pre- and post-assessment, just as they do now for all WIA youth.  It is acceptable for a local area to use a local pre- and post-test to document gains.

Question: If an individual is in the adult program but falls within the revised youth eligibility age limits, could they participate in subsidized youth work experience under the Recovery Act?

Answer:  Yes, individuals between the ages of 21 and 24 who would usually be served under the WIA adult or dislocated worker formulas can be served with Recovery Act youth formula funds, provided such individuals meet all of the other youth formula eligibility requirements and want to do a subsidized youth work experience.

Question:  Are there special rules that apply to veterans when income is a factor in eligibility determinations?

Answer: Yes, under 38 U.S.C. 4213, when past income is an eligibility determinant for Federal employment or training programs, any amount received as military pay or allowances by any person who served on active duty, and certain other specified benefits must be disregarded.  

For more detailed information, please see 20 CFR Part 652, §667.255.

Question: Would a basic skills assessment have to still be done from a barrier perspective?

Answer:  The answer to this question is “yes.”  In terms of eligibility, all WIA eligibility requirements still apply.  There’s the age (currently expanded to 24), and two other eligibility pieces for WIA youth:  low income-- which must be fulfilled-- and then secondly, one or more barriers to employment.  If the basic skills barrier is used, you would need to do an assessment.  Now, if there’s one of the other barriers that’s allowable under WIA that you would use for eligibility purposes, then there would be no reason to the basic skills assessment unless you so choose.  But, if you select to use it as one of the barriers for eligibility, then you would need to the basic skills assessment.  

Question:  For the work readiness outcome, must the youth obtain a nationally recognized certification or are local areas allowed to use a local pre and post test to document gains?

Answer:  A nationally recognized certification is not required for the work readiness indicator.  Local areas are required to determine whether a measurable increase in work readiness skills has occurred through a pre- and post-assessment, just as they do now for all WIA youth.  It is acceptable for a local area to use a local pre- and post-test to document gains.

Question:  If you have a stand-alone summer youth program teaching career exploration, life skills and basic skills, does a work experience component have to be part of it (for the students to be paid a stipend for attending out of the Recovery funds)?

Answer:  Yes—for the work readiness indicator to be the only measure; and for it to be considered a summer work experience--that would have to be the case.

Question:  Will you please clarify that only youth in regular WIA programs fall under common measures?

Answer:  Youth that fall under the Recovery Act would fall under regular WIA and/or common measures if they do something other than the summer employment.

Question:  Is there a five (5%) percent eligibility exception window for Recovery Act youth funds?  If yes, can you base your five percent eligibility exception numbers on the participants enrolled in both the Recovery Act funds and formula funds, or would each funding stream have its own five percent window?

Answer:  Each funding stream would have its own five percent window for enrolling individuals who do not qualify as low-income but meet other barriers and the age eligibility (20 CFR 664.220).

Question:  Youth TEGL 14-08, page 28 references casinos, aquarium, golf courses or swimming pools.  The TEGL indicates that states and local areas should not use Recovery Act funds to place youth in summer employment or work experience outside the summer months in any of these facilities.  This language is ambiguous.  May youth be in work experience at any time in these facilities?

Answer: No.  Youth cannot be place in summer employment or work experience either in the summer or non-summer months under Recovery Act funds.

Question:  Are youth ages 22 – 24 who participate in the summer employment program funded by the ARRA prohibited from receiving additional ARRA-funded WIA Youth services at the completion of the summer timeframe?

Answer:  No.  Youth in the 22-24 age category may receive continued services funded by Recovery Act during non-summer months beyond the September 30 date, which ends the summer period.  The Act does not limit the use of the Recovery Act funds for only summer employment; any youth activities under WIA are allowable for these older youth.  

Question:  Please provide clarification of the language on p.28 of TEGL 14-08 stating “youth summer employment should be a work experience intended to increase work readiness skills of participants and not impact the profit margin of a for-profit company.”

Answer: Under 20 CFR 664.460(c), the purpose of work experience for youth is to provide the youth participant with opportunities for career exploration and skill development and is not to solely benefit the employer or increase company revenue.  In light of this, work experience should be designed as a training activity and participants cannot be considered as the equivalent of regular employees.

Additionally, if the activity is construction-related, the wages paid to participants may need to conform to the prevailing wage requirements identified in the Davis Bacon Act, and local areas would need to determine this.

Question:  Will there be a requirement that follow-up be conducted with youth who participate in summer employment?

Answer: Due to the short summer time period, local areas have the discretion to determine if and when the 12-month follow-up requirement will be required for youth served with Recovery Act funds during the summer months only.  Local areas should provide follow-up services when deemed appropriate for such individuals.

If local areas choose to provide follow-up services for summer employment, the scope of follow-up services may be less intensive for youth who have only participated in summer youth employment. (Reference:  TEGL No. 14-08, Section E.)