Wisconsin Works (W-2) Background and Basic Assumptions


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.

There are 8 W-2 Agencies in Wisconsin consisting of a mix of private for-profit and private non-profit organizations. All W-2 agencies are either co-located or electronically linked to Wisconsin Job Centers for access to career planning, job placement and advancement, and training at the local level. To find your local W-2 agency please refer to the W-2 Agency Locator.

For information about benefits and services available through the W-2 program, please refer to our W-2 Benefits & Services brochure. For more information about the W-2 program please visit the Wisconsin Works (W-2) Overview Page http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/w2/wisworks.htm.

Basic Assumptions

W-2 agencies must provide services that are strengths-based, family-centered and consistent with the W-2 applicant’s or participant’s interests and goals.  Agencies must work cooperatively with applicants and participants to identify needed resources and to assign appropriate activities.  The goal is to build on the strengths and skills of parents and families.  The W-2 agency must provide all services in a culturally and linguistically competent manner and be accessible for qualified refugees, former refugees and others with limited English proficiency.

W-2 policies are guided by the consistent application of the following Basic Assumptions:

  1. Work is the best way for parents to support their families.  Getting a job is the first step in the process of achieving economic stability.  W‑2 assists parents with preparing for, finding and maintaining consistent employment.  W-2 also works with parents who are unable to work due to a disability by assisting these parents with navigating the SSI and SSDI application process.
  2. Family income should improve when parents work.  W-2’s goal is to have parents get the best possible job.  W-2 also helps parents access work supports (e.g. EITC, FS, BC, CS and Wisconsin Shares Child Care) that will support keeping them employed.
  3. Consistent work is essential for parents to achieve economic stability. W-2 commits to working with parents before and after they find a job. W-2 supports job retention and advancement in a variety of ways because individual progress toward independence and prosperity is a process.  W-2 connects interested parents to needed education and training either before or after gaining employment, in order to help them move forward to better employment.
  4. W-2 participants are parents as well as job seekers.  Working parents have multiple family and work obligations.  W-2 works with parents to identify strategies to enable them to balance work and family.  W-2 also assists parents who are connected to other programs or supports integrate those activities with the family’s service plans.
  5. Eligible parents must be willing to participate in exchange for W-2 benefits.  Parents across the state have access to individualized quality services.  Parents, for their part, must participate to the best of their abilities.
  6. Families benefit from participating in W-2.  W-2 assists parents with identifying their goals and locating needed resources.  During each interaction, W-2 works to ensure parents understand their choices and the resulting consequences.  This approach empowers parents to make informed decisions that strengthen their family.  W-2 works with both custodial parents in a two-parent family and extends services to non-custodial parents when appropriate.
  7. W-2 matches the needs of working parents with the needs of local employers.  W-2 agencies operate cooperatively within the larger community.  W-2 objectives are best achieved by understanding the needs of local employers and matching that need with the skills and interests of W-2 participants

 Updated March 20, 2013

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