Community Jobs is the first and largest program in the nation to provide welfare recipients with paychecks for their work in the public and private nonprofit sectors. A component of WorkFirst, Washington state’s welfare reform program, Community Jobs (CJ) incorporates training, intensive support services, and paid work that all lead toward permanent economic self-sufficiency. Community Jobs creates a wage ladder for very low-income people and is one of the state’s most successful programs serving hard-to-employ individuals.
Community Jobs is designed to achieve long-term economic self-sufficiency for individuals who are moving from welfare to work. Community Jobs has three main elements:
- Participants earn a paycheck for hours worked.
- Participants step onto a job ladder that leads to economic self-sufficiency and steady employment.
- Participants begin a structured plan toward a living wage and independence from welfare.
Community Jobs is an open door for its participants, leading to increased family income, greater self-esteem, new skills, and new opportunities. Private nonprofit partners who administer each local program secure 20 hours of paid work for each participant and provide one-on-one support and mentoring to ease the transition to the world of work.
Program participants, who have had major difficulties in securing employment on their own, work in CJ up to nine months, long enough to gain substantial work experience. While developing their own work and life skills, CJ participants improve their communities by working in community, government, and tribal organizations.