|We've got NEWS|
|Thursday, October 15, 1998 |
Tommy G. Thompson
News Media Contact
DWD News Office
For more information, contact J. Jean Rogers, (608) 266-3035
New W-2 procedures address barriers created by alcohol and drug use
Madison, WI Wisconsin Works (W-2) caseworkers will gain new tools and new teeth in assessing and addressing barriers to employment involving alcohol and drug use, according to an announcement today by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).
"The effects of alcohol and drug abuse hinder success of families and children," noted Linda Stewart, DWD secretary. "The goal of W-2 is to move people into the workplace and toward self-sufficiency, and we must remove the barriers to accomplishing that goal."
Governor Tommy G. Thompson, recognizing the magnitude and complexity of these issues, will be establishing the Work Group on Drug Abuse and W-2 (Work Group) to collaborate and develop new processes for identifying alcohol and drug issues, training caseworkers on substance identification, referring participants for assistance, providing a supportive treatment environment and explaining consequences for nonparticipation.
With these expanded efforts, greater attention will be paid up-front to the assessment of barriers related to alcohol or drug abuse. Specially trained W-2 Financial and Employment Planners (FEPs) will conduct a preliminary alcohol and drug assessment as part of the application process. If either addiction or needs related to substance use are detected, the W-2 participant will be sent for a more thorough professional assessment. When determined necessary, appropriate treatment would become part of the individuals required W-2 activities.
Early detection has proven critical to helping people overcome barriers. Since people do not walk into the W-2 agency admitting to alcohol or drug problems, they often face harsher consequences than if the problem had been detected upon entry to the program, noted Stewart.
The procedures will also set in place specific consequences should a participant fail to comply with requirements intended to address substance abuse issues, and they will incorporate drug testing as a way to detect substance abuse issues and monitor progress in treatment.
Participants who fail to participate in required treatment may receive a sanction or a strike. (Individuals are allowed only three strikes in each of the employment positions over the course of their lifetime.) Since failure to participate may, of itself, indicate a problem, individuals will have the option of taking the strike or a drug test. Drug testing will be used as a tool to detect and monitor substance abuse issues.
"The procedures are not intended to create anxiety. They are designed to support people in taking responsibility and overcoming the incredibly challenging barriers created by alcohol and drug abuse," said J. Jean Rogers, DWD Division of Economic Support administrator.
The Governors Work Group will include representatives of traditional alcohol and other drug abuse service providers, faith-based treatment providers, community leaders, W-2 agencies, counties, Department of Health and Family Services and DWD. The Work Group will be appointed and begin to hold public forums around the state by the end of the year. It will provide recommendations to the Governor by September 1999 for implementation in the new contract year, which begins January 1, 2000.
For an e-mail version of this news release,