Federal agencies release final requirements for WIOA unified, combined plans

By Kermit Kaleba, February 22, 2016

Earlier today, the US Department of Labor, in coordination with the US Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development, released the final requirements for State Unified or Combined Plans as required under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The information collection (IC) outlines all of the elements that must be included in a state plan, including the basic requirements for a Unified Plan that covers only the six “core” programs under Titles I-IV of WIOA, and additional elements that are required for a Combined plan that includes the core programs and at least one additional workforce or education program described in sec. 103 of WIOA.

The agencies released a draft of the state plan requirements for public comment in August 2015, and National Skills Coalition submitted recommendations in response to this draft in September 2015. The agencies have posted a “supporting statement” that outlines the comments received from NSC and other organizations, and modifications to the August draft IC made in response to those recommendations. Among other things, the agencies accepted NSC’s recommendations to:

  • Require states to provide clear descriptions of the industry or sector partnerships and career pathways that will be implemented in the state, including descriptions of how core programs and other partner programs are aligned to support sector partnerships.
  • Require states to include a description in the state plans of the methods used for joint planning and coordination across core and partner programs.
  • Expand the requirement that states describe efforts to engage community colleges and area career and technical education (CTE) schools to include other education and training providers, including training programs on the state eligible training provider list and adult education providers.
  • Clarify that accessibility requirements for the one-stop system, including physical accessibility requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, apply to all one-stop partner programs and operators.

The revised IC and supporting statement also:

  • Provides that states will not be required to include one-stop infrastructure cost-sharing agreements (as described under section 121(h) of WIOA) in their first WIOA plan, but will be required to describe their process for how they will develop such agreements by 2018;
  • Adds a requirement that states describe how they will ensure accessibility in the one-stop system for individuals with limited English proficiency;
  • Provides that assessments of the effectiveness of core programs and one-stop partner programs (as required under section 102(b)(2)(C)) will not be required until states submit plan modifications in 2018;
  • Includes a requirement that states identify criteria for approval of local transfers of funds between Title I Adult and Dislocated Worker programs.

Labor had previously announced an extension of state plan submission deadlines from March 3, 2016 to April 1, 2016. The agencies have also indicated that final rules for implementation of WIOA will be released by June 2016.