Wisconsin Works (W-2) Overview

Wisconsin Works (W-2) replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) in September, 1997. W-2 is based on work participation and personal responsibility. The program provides employment preparation services, case management and cash assistance to eligible families.

Under W-2, there is no entitlement to assistance. The program is available to low-income parents with minor children who meet eligibility requirements and who are willing to work to their ability. Each W-2 eligible participant meets with a Financial and Employment Planner (FEP), who helps the individual develop an employability plan.

W-2 has the following paid placements: CSJ, W-2 T, CMC, and ARP:

  • Community Service Jobs (CSJ): CSJ placements are developed for individuals who lack the basic skills and work habits needed in a regular job environment. CSJ positions offer real work training opportunities, but with the added supervision and support needed to help the participant succeed. CSJ participants receive a monthly grant of $653. Individuals who are employed part-time, but have personal barriers that prevent them from increasing their work hours, may be placed in a part-time CSJ position with prorated benefits. In addition to a cash grant, CSJ participants may be eligible for FoodShare, Medicaid, child care assistance, and Job Access Loans.
  • W-2 Transition (W-2 T): W-2 T is reserved for those individuals who, because of employment barriers, are unable to perform independent, self-sustaining work. Those individuals who have permanent employment barriers are assisted in securing federal Supplemental Security Insurance benefits.  W-2 T participants receive a monthly grant of $608. In addition to a cash grant, W-2 T participants may be eligible for FoodShare, Medicaid, child care assistance, and Job Access Loans.
  • Caretaker of an Infant (CMC):  CMC placements are for individuals who are the custodial parent of an infant who is 8 weeks old or less.  Individuals in a CMC placement receive a monthly payment of $673 and are not be required to participate in an employment position unless he/she volunteers to participate.  In addition to a cash grant, CMC participants may be eligible for FoodShare, Medicaid, child care assistance, and Job Access Loans.
  • At Risk Pregnancy (ARP):  ARP placements are available to unmarried women in the third trimester of pregnancy who have a medically verified at risk pregnancy.  Individuals in an ARP placement receive a monthly payment of $673.  In addition to a cash grant, ARP participants may be eligible for FoodShare and Medicaid.

In addition to the paid placements described above, noncustodial parents, minor parents, and pregnant women may be eligible for an array of case management services. Also, custodial parents who are employed when they apply or become employed after participating in W-2 may be eligible for case management services. The final group eligible for case management services is W-2 participants who reach their time limit but ask for case management services.

Time Limits

W-2 participants are limited to a maximum lifetime limit of 60 months. Extensions may be available on a limited basis when barriers exist that prevent employment.

Employment Supports

A major part of W-2 consists of the related support services and features designed to facilitate access to and sustain employment.

  • Local Children's Services Networks and Community Steering Committees organize community leaders to coordinate resources leading to self-sufficiency.
  • Child Support works with W-2 custodial parents to help them get child support payments. Child support (CS) income does not cause the W-2 payment to go down and in most cases custodial parents get to keep 75% of their child support payment while on W-2.
  • Wisconsin Shares Child Care is available to most low-income working families. Families pay a co-payment based on their income.
  • Job Access Loans (JALs) are short-term, interest free loans that are intended to meet immediate and discrete financial crises for expanses that are related to obtaining or maintaining employment.
  • Transportation Assistance ensures that parents can get their children to day care and themselves to work.
  • Health Care is available through Medicaid/BadgerCare.
  • Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Program offers employment placement/retention, job training and education-related training services. Services are available to both adults and youth and are delivered through the Job Centers.

 Updated February 21, 2014

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