Sneak Preview: DOL Guidance Expands Services for Homeless Vets

September 16, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Nonfederal entities providing services to homeless veterans under award programs overseen by the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) are now required to enroll these veterans in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) workforce programs available through American Job Centers (AJCs), according to joint guidance recently issued by two DOL agencies.

VETS oversees several grant programs that issue federal awards to help homeless veterans find career counseling and meaningful employment in the labor force. The guidance addresses three homeless veterans programs — the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, the Homeless Female Veterans and Veterans with Families Program, and the Incarcerated Veterans Transition Program. DOL also serves veterans through WIOA title I programs, the Wagner-Peyser Act Employment Service (ES) and the Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) program.

In 2009, the White House and the Department of Veterans Affairs launched an initiative to end veteran homelessness. One aspect of the initiative is to connect homeless veterans with workforce programs available at AJCs “to ensure they receive appropriate workforce services.” Coordinated by DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), AJCs (also known as One-Stop Centers) offer a full range of assistance to job seekers under one roof. Established under the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and reauthorized under the WIOA Act of 2014 (Pub. L. 113-128), the centers offer training referrals, career counseling, job listings and similar employment-related services.

Under joint guidance recently released by VETS and ETA, VETS now will require grant recipients serving homeless veterans under its programs to enroll all participants in the “public workforce system” through a local AJC. “This is to create a sustainable partnership in which grantees understand each other’s services and participants’ employment needs are met,” the guidance explained. “Being connected to the labor market is one step toward self-sufficiency, including the attainment of affordable housing.”

The guidance adds that a participant in a VETS homeless veterans program is considered enrolled in a public workforce system when the participant receives similar services offered to participants in ES, JVSG or WIOA title I programs. Many VETS homeless veterans program grantees are already using AJC services for their participants. However, VETS homeless veterans program grant recipients now are responsible for working with appropriate ES, JVSG and WIOA title I staff in the local AJC to enroll homeless veterans program participants.

DOL “requires both AJC enrollment of homeless veterans program participants and the receipt of ES, JVSG or WIOA title I services by all participants to occur during the period of performance outlined in the homeless veterans program grant award terms and conditions,” the guidance states. “Although many VETS homeless veterans program grantees have already incorporated regular AJC staff visits into their service delivery model, all grantees should work collaboratively at the local level to ensure the best services are offered to the veterans.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

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