WIOA Reentry Program


What is WIOA?

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014, is the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in 15 years. WIOA presents an extraordinary opportunity to improve job and career options for our nation's workers and job seekers through an integrated, job-driven public workforce system that links diverse talent to businesses. It supports the development of strong, vibrant regional economies where businesses thrive and people want to live and work.

What is Reentry?

Reentry is the transition from incarceration-life in prison, jail, or juvenile justice facilities-to-life in the community. Ex-offenders are those who either; a) have been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process for committing a status offense or delinquent act; or b) require assistance in overcoming barriers to employment resulting from a record of arrests or convictions. WIOA defines "ex-offenders" as a subgroup of individuals who face a significant barrier to employment; however, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) and Tennessee Corrections (TDOC) chose to designate this group as justice-involved individuals (JII's).

What is the purpose of Reentry?

The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) has provided Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) an opportunity to improve public safety, reduce government spending, and grow the local economy through work-based reentry programs. Approximately one in three adults in the U.S. has a criminal record, and men with criminal records account for about 34% of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54. Nationally, there is a total estimated loss to the economy of $78 to $87 billion every year as a result of people with criminal records being unemployed or underemployed. Nearly everyone who goes to jail and approximately 95 percent of persons in state or federal prison will eventually return home. Although returning to the community may be inevitable, successful reentry and reintegration are not. Recidivism studies reveal that two out of every three people released from state prison are rearrested for a new offense about half return to prison within three years. Lowering the recidivism rate through work-based programs diminishes incarceration costs increases tax revenue, and provides local businesses with the additional skilled labor they need. When reentry fails, the social and economic costs are significant - higher crime, more victims, increased family distress, and greater strain on state and municipal budgets.

Who is eligible?

An offender (justice-involved individual) - adult or juvenile

  • who is or has been subject to any stage of the criminal justice process, and for whom services under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law on July 22, 2014, may be beneficial; or
  • who requires assistance in overcoming artificial barriers to employment resulting from a record of arrest or conviction.
  • Is unlikely or unable to obtain or retain employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency or wages comparable to or higher than wages from previous employment through career services alone;
  • Is in need of training services to obtain or retain employment that leads to economic self-sufficiency or wages comparable to or high than wages from previous employment; 
  • Has the skills and qualifications to successfully participate in the selected program of training services; 
  • Is unable to obtain grant assistance from other sources to pay the costs of such training, including such sources as State-funded training funds or Federal Pell Grants established under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, or requires WIOA assistance in addition to other sources of grant assistance, including Federal Pell Grants (20 CFR 680.230 and WIOA sec. 134(c)(3)(B) contain provisions relating to funding coordination.);
  • Is a member of a working group covered under a petition filed for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and is awaiting a determination. If the petition is certified, the worker may then transition to TAA approved training, If the petition is denied, the worker will continue training under WIOA;
  • Is determined eligible in accordance with the State and local priority system in effect for adults under WIOA sec. 134 (c)(3)(E) if training services are provided through the adult funding stream; and
  • Selected a program of training services that are directly linked to the employment opportunities in the local area or the planning region, or in another area to which the individual is willing to commute or relocate.

Reentry Services Offered:

  • Assistance with child care and dependent care;
  • Assistance with transportation
  • Linkages to community services;
  • Assistance with housing;
  • Needs-Related Payments (available only to individuals enrolled in training services and must be consistent with 20 CFR 680.930, 680.940, 680.950, 680.960, and 680.970)
  • Assistance with educational testing;
  • Reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities;
  • Referrals to health care;
  • Assistance with uniforms or other appropriate work attire and work-related tools, including such items as eyeglasses and protective eye gear; 
  • Assistance with books, fees, school supplies, and other necessary items for students enrolled in post-secondary education classes; 
  • Payments and fees for employment and training-related applications, tests, and certifications; and
  • Legal aid services

Click here to view the Reentry fact sheet. For more information or to participate in any of these services, visit your local American Job Center.