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**Accepting Public Comment **

Waiver of Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA)
75% Out-of-School Youth Minimum Expenditure Requirement

Submit Comments from June 11, 2018 Through June 25, 2018 @ [email protected]

This waiver request will assist Kansas to further develop its workforce system while continuing to focus on creating a demand-driven system.

Statutory and/or Regulatory Requirements to be Waived

The State of Kansas is seeking a waiver from that part of Section 129(a)(4)(A) and 20 CFR 681.410, which requires not less than 75 percent of funds allotted to states under Section 127(b)(1)(C) and available to local areas under subsection (c), shall be used to provide youth workforce investment activities for OSY.

Kansas is requesting a waiver of the requirement Local Areas expend not less than 75 percent of the Formula Youth funding available to the Local Area to provide youth workforce investment activities for out-of-school youth. Kansas is requesting that this percentage be lowered to 50 percent.

Actions Undertaken to Remove State or Local Statutory or Regulatory Barriers

There are currently no state or local statutory or regulatory barriers to implementing the requested waiver. State of Kansas regulations and policy statements are in compliance with current federal law.

Waiver Goals and Outcomes

Goal: Increase services to at-risk youth in local schools.

Outcome: Approval of this waiver request will allow Local boards to direct more local funds to serving youth at-risk of disconnecting from education. It is more cost-effective to keep youth enrolled in school and engaged in a career pathway which leads to meaningful and satisfying careers.

Forty-six percent of Kansas K-12 students were approved for free or reduced lunches in the 2017-18 school year meeting the WIOA definition of low-income. This cohort of Kansas students is nearly 10 percent more likely to not graduate high-school; 77% vs 86%. In Kansas, students with disabilities also have the same 77% graduation rate. The ability to serve more economically disadvantaged and disabled youth while they are still attached to an educational institution gives the five Kansas Local Workforce Development Areas the chance to reduce the impact of high-risk factors including poverty and disability and provide equitable resources to meet the needs of all students to ensure that they have access to quality educational and career exploration opportunities.

Goal: Increase support for dropout prevention and recapture programming.

Outcome: Data for dropout prevention programs demonstrate graduation rates equivalent to those of economically disadvantaged students. Considering these services are targeted toward at-risk and hard-to-serve youth with multiple barriers such as living in single-parent or economically disadvantaged households, low academic performance due to certified special education needs or a lack of maturity or motivation, emotional or physical disabilities, runaway youth or homelessness, one or more years behind their peers and/or repeating grades, excessive absences, a record of suspensions, being expelled or put on probation, lack of transportation, limited English proficiency, substance abuse, pregnancy or parenting, little or no work experience due to a lack of marketable skills; investment in these services are critica workforce in a tight labor market.

Goal: Supporting students in school through successful graduation while equipping them with academic and technical skills necessary to improve their employability.

Outcome: Ensuring a young person’s success in a job and/or in post-secondary education during the time when the student is most at-risk of failure. Additional follow up and contact with participants following high school completion ensures satisfactory progress is made while employed or enrolled in post-secondary or vocational training programs.

Approval of this waiver will provide greater opportunity for youth to finish high school and continue a pathway toward multiple career and educational opportunities, such as entering a Registered Apprenticeship program, earning recognized credentials, associates and/or a bachelor’s degree necessary for obtaining sustainable employment. Employers will have an opportunity to build a talent pipeline earlier in the career pathway continuum, reduce training costs, and employee turnover.

Goal: Improved flexibility of state and local funding to best meet the needs of our citizens and businesses.

Outcomes: Approval of this waiver will allow for innovative strategies to address barriers facing at-risk youth on an individualized basis and encourage innovative strategies to address student retention, such as dual college enrollment, work-based learning opportunities, occupational training, or pre-apprenticeship to apprenticeship programs that will keep students engaged in school through graduation. This waiver will improve the ability of Workforce Development Boards to develop strategies to align with workforce and economic realities within their service delivery areas and to design programs in direct response to the needs
of youth.

Alignment with Department Policy Priorities

The WIOA encourages strong partnerships to leverage resources and increase opportunities for youth. The Kansas workforce development system is designed to help improve student access to career pathways, close the talent gap in professional trades and continue building a stronger talent base in Kansas. Local Boards brings together leaders, including employers, educators, K-12 districts, higher education institutions, union leaders, and businesses – all to ensure our youth can reach their potential and make Kansas stronger. The State and Local Workforce Development Boards should be a strong partner, both in terms of program design and the fiscal support necessary to meet this need.

The WIOA places a heavy emphasis on work experience for youth participants. The expansion of workbased learning opportunities for in-school youth through increased flexibility of funding not only aligns with this priority but also fosters greater employer engagement from businesses and industries.

Individuals Impacted by the Waiver

Kansas’ at-risk young adult population, American Job Centers (AJC) and subcontracted service provider staff, employers, parents, and school counselors will benefit from the waiver.

Monitoring Progress and Implementation

Annual WIOA on-site programmatic reviews will include an evaluation of how local waivers are being utilized to ensure programmatic goals and outcomes are being met.

The Youth Services state coordinator, dedicated to the administration of the WIOA Youth program, will continually examine the effectiveness of waivers throughout the program year. This strategy ensures that the goals described above, as well as those outlined in the existing state and local WIOA plans, are consistent with established objectives of the WIOA, and federal and state regulations.

Notice to Local Boards and Public Comment

In accordance with the WIOA Regulations at 20 CFR 676.135, Kansas is submitting a modification to its Unified State Plan, which is subject to the requirements outlined in the WIOA Regulations at 20 CFR 676.130(d) for public review and comment. Kansas’ Waiver Request is currently posted on our website for comment and review by required parties and the general public.

A copy of this waiver request was provided to all local workforce development boards through their respective Executive Directors. Any comment received will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Labor and included as a modification to the State’s Combined State Plan. Further, the impact of this waiver on the state’s performance will be addressed in the state’s WIOA Annual Report.

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