Pathways to Work choices include
- Young Parents Program. This program provides education and life skills training to pregnant and parenting TAFDC recipients ages 14 through 21 who do not have a high school diploma or equivalent. 106 C.M.R. §707.140; DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011); DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009).
- Post-secondary education (college). You can get approval to go to college or even graduate school. See Will DTA approve college attendance? on the special rules for college. DTA does not pay for college. You have to pay for college with grants and loans. But if DTA approves you to go to college, DTA will pay for child care and will help with transportation. 106 C.M.R. §§ 707.140(D); 707.210; DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011); DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009) and 2009-45 (July 31, 2009).
- Employment (skills) training. DTA pays for some skills training. Some DTA programs are offered through community colleges and some through other organizations. Most DTA-funded skills training programs are short-term (4-12 weeks, or sometimes 16 weeks for some of the community college programs). Examples include programs in business skills, certified nurse aide, child care, customer service, dental assistant, electronics assembly, food service and home health aide. Some of these programs include some basic education and some include English education. 106 C.M.R. § 707.150; DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011); DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009). Some funding for job skills training is available through local Career Centers or local government agencies. For more information, check with your local Career Center.
- DTA Works Program. This program places recipients in 30-hour per week jobs at DTA for up to 6 months. DTA pays a stipend for expenses that is not counted for TAFDC or SNAP (food stamps). Many graduates of this program have gotten regular jobs at DTA or other state agencies. You may be eligible if you are a current TAFDC recipient and can pass a criminal history check. You can apply by e-mailing your resume to [email protected]. Ask your DTA worker for more details. DTA Online guide (DTA Works – Client Eligibility); DTA Operations Memos 2011-37 (July 27, 2011), 2010-20 (March 29, 2010).
- High School Equivalency Credential. You can enroll in a basic education program paid for by a school district, nonprofit or charity. DTA will pay for child care and will help with transportation. DTA will also pay the fee for you to take the HiSET test.
- Empowering to Employ program for TAFDC recipients with a disability. This program provides streamlined enrollment in the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and access to MRC services including individualized coaching, skills training, and job placement.
- Work Participant Program through your local career center. This program provides counseling, a career readiness assessment, workshops, access to some certificate programs, and job search assistance.
- Job Search/Job Readiness. Many of the DTA-funded programs include job search and job readiness activities. DTA sometimes calls this activity “Employment Ready.” You can also do job search at a local career center or online through JobQuest (register at JobQuest.
- Community Service. You can volunteer for or be required to participate in unpaid community service. 106 C.M.R. § 707.170; DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009). You may be able to do community service (up to 16 weeks) at the local DTA office. DTA Operations Memo 2012-14 (Apr. 6, 2012). See What if you can’t find an appropriate Work Activity? for more information on community service.
- Services for refugees and immigrants. The Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants provides employment services for TAFDC recipients who do not speak English or Spanish. DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011); DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009).
See Choose a TAFDC Pathways to Work Program. You can get information about DTA employment programs and services from a DTA employment staff person listed at
DTA guidelines for referring TAFDC recipients to Pathways to Work activities may be found at DTA Online Guide (ESP Component Eligibility) and in DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011) and DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009) and 2009-45 (July 31, 2009).
During the pandemic, some programs operated remotely. DTA also provided vouchers to cover the fee for you to take the HiSet test remotely. DTA OLGT 2020-79 (TAFDC: High School Equivalency Testing and Vouchers) (Nov. 27, 2020).
- It is usually not a good idea to borrow money for skills training. Programs do not always deliver on the promise of a job. You can be stuck with very high debt for the rest of your life. DTA should not pressure you to enroll in an activity that you have to pay for and should discuss no-cost options with you before approving an activity you have to pay for. DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011).
- A program that sounds good on paper may not offer the services you need. If you are subject to the work requirement, DTA may try to sanction you if you stop participating. You should also be sure to choose carefully so you do not use up the limited time you have to participate in education or training. DTA stopped sanctions during the pandemic.