What are your ESP choices?

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Produced by Deborah Harris, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2017

ESP choices include

  • Education that is combined with skills training, and HiSET testing. DTA does not pay for basic or secondary education except for the Young Parents Program, some education that is combined with skills training, and HiSET testing. You can enroll in a basic education or HiSET program and get child care and transportation help from DTA. 106 C.M.R. §§ 207.140, 207.210; DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011 DTA Field Operations Memos 2009-69 (Dec. 18, 2009) and 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009).
  • 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. §207.140DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011 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 some transportation. 106 C.M.R. §§ 207.140(D 207.210DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011 Field Operations Memos 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. § 207.150DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011 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 or legal services.
  • 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 Operations Memo 2011-37 (July 27, 2011).
  • 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. If you are doing job search at the career center you will need to fill out a DTA form to keep track of your attendance. DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011 DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-58 (Oct. 21, 2009).
  • Employment Supports Work Activities. This program is supposed to give you on-the-job training and a job for a total of 30 hours a week. The program may also provide job readiness training, job search help, and follow-up services. 106 C.M.R. § 207.160DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011 DTA Field Operations Memo 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009).
  • Community Service. You can volunteer for or be required to participate in unpaid community service. 106 C.M.R. § 207.170; F.O. 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 Can't find the right work activity for more information on community service.
  • Full Employment Program. FEP is a full-time job paying at least minimum wage. The employer gets a subsidy towards your wage. DTA also pays $1 for each hour you work into a special “Individual Asset Account” which you get when you leave FEP. Participants do not get SNAP (food stamp) benefits and are only eligible for TAFDC if the FEP wage is less than what the TAFDC plus SNAP would have been otherwise. 106 C.M.R. §§ 207.180, 208.000-208.150.
  • 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).

DTA guidelines for referring TAFDC recipients to ESP activities may be found in DTA Operations Memo 2011-46 (Sept. 21, 2011) and DTA Field Operations Memos 2009-52A (Oct. 6, 2009) and 2009-45 (July 31, 2009).

Advocacy Reminders

  • 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.

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