The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) was implemented to help job seekers access job training and education, gain high-quality employment, and receive critical tools and services in order to succeed in the labor market. WIOA has a specific focus of assisting those with increased barriers to employment, such as people with limited work experience, criminal histories or disabilities, get and maintain high-quality jobs. Many workers access WIOA through local American Job Centers, also called One-Stop Centers, that provide a broad range of employment services.
WIOA is especially critical for survivors of gender-based violence as it is designed to help workers with high barriers to employment, like survivors, receive the training and education they need to find and maintain high-quality jobs. The Act specifically discusses assisting displaced homemakers, people who have been providing unpaid services in the home and relying on the income of another family member, get high-quality jobs.
To read a more in-depth summary of WIOA, please see our WIOA primer.
WIOA 2022 Reauthorization (HR 7309)
In 2020, WIOA’s authorization expired. As a result, Congress drafted a reauthorization (HR 7309) which has not been signed into law yet. In May 2022, HR 7309 passed the House with bipartisan support. It will now be sent to committee in the Senate.
HR 7309 authorizes $78 billion in spending on workforce development from Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 through Fiscal Year 2028. This amount will allow WIOA to train one million workers per year by 2028. The bill contains significant increases in investment for reentry services ($100 million in FY 2022 to $250 million in FY 23 with $50 million increases every year) for justice-involved individuals. Additionally, the bill expands the youth job programs and codifies partnerships between employers and community colleges to provide high-quality training for students. In addition to these high-level changes, Futures Without Violence had several priorities related to highlighting the needs of survivors of gender-based violence. Our organization worked with House Education and Labor staff to include some of our priorities in the bill.
- Coordination with Domestic Violence Coalitions – State governors can now use reserve funds for statewide education and training to coordinate with state domestic violence coalitions and tribal coalitions. This allows state and local WIOA programs to partner with state domestic violence coalitions to ensure survivors are receiving wrap-around services related to job training and employment. This is new language that was not included in the 2014 law.
- Trauma-Informed and Gender-Based Violence Trainings – American Job Centers (also called One-Stop Centers) will train their staff on trauma-informed practices and the unique safety challenges faced by survivors of gender-based violence. This helps One-Stop Centers form a better understanding of how trauma and gender-based violence can impact a survivor seeking WIOA training, education, or job services and how WIOA can better serve survivors more broadly. This is new language that was not included in the 2014 law.
In addition to the changes FUTURES advocated for in WIOA, there were several other changes made to the law that directly impact survivors.
- Changes to Supportive Services – In the 2022 WIOA Reauthorization text the term “supportive services” was expanded to include food and nutrition services, mental health care supports, substance use disorder treatment, access to broadband, affordable internet connection, or digital devices with connection to internet, and assistive technology. In the 2014 law the definition of “supportive services” only included transportation, child care, dependent care, housing, and needs-related payments. The more expansive definition recognizing other significant barriers to employment, like internet access and mental health services, will help more workers, including survivors, access the services and tools WIOA provides. Additionally, under the 2022 text supportive services are now a required local activity. Previously they had only been a permissible local activity. This will ideally help integrate supportive services into local WIOA programs thereby ensuring more individuals can access their local WIOA job training, education, and employment services.
- Specifying Reserve Fund Allocation for Individuals with Barriers to Employment – The 2014 law requires local funds allocated for adult training and education be prioritized for those who are low-income, receive public assistance, or individuals who have foundational skill needs. The 2022 reauthorization specifies that 75% of funds must be allocated for those individuals and includes veterans and other individuals with barriers to employment who aren’t already covered by this section. This change shows WIOA is focused on prioritizing and serving those with high barriers to employment and is now expansive enough to include survivors of gender-based violence.