Our Spotlight! is focused on yet another KRA Corporation innovation developed to enhance program performance and to facilitate customers’ access to essential services.
District of Columbia residents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits are eligible initially to enroll in one of two comprehensive TANF Employment Programs (TEP) —Job Development or Work Readiness—operated by KRA for the DC Department of Social Services (DSS). Enrollment depends upon the customer’s assessed level of workforce-readiness for job placement services.
At the May TEP Meeting, convened by the DC Office of Performance Monitoring, Nate’ Gordon, KRA Operations Manager, and Anthony Featherstone, KRA Program Manager, presented the initiative—described by one attendee as “fantastic”—related to our 100% conversion to an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payment system for customers receiving incentives and/or stipends related to successful TEP participation.
The new EFT system also replaces paper checks for TEP customers eligible for Supportive Services’ assistance, e.g. payments for childcare, transportation, job uniforms, and/or other expenses related to obtaining/retaining employment or completing education and/or job-training programs.
KRA believed the paper-check system could be made more efficient, reducing cost/time related to processing 400+ checks weekly, alphabetizing/sorting checks by program, voiding lost or stolen checks and issuing replacements, processing stipends separately from incentives for customers due both in the same week, incurring mailing/postage expenses, et al.
Also, an EFT system would enhance customer flow on “paydays”, spare customers the expense of check-cashing fees, and eliminate staff phone-time with vendors calling to validate customers’ identifies and rights to cash the checks.
KRA conducted exhaustive research related to several EFT options and providers and chose Prepaid Debit Cards (PDC) as the core of the new system. Customer payments loaded onto PDCs would be accessible through widely-available ATMs or any bank participating in the Visa network, thereby facilitating payments for customers with or without bank accounts.
Following a successful 50-customer pilot, KRA implemented the EFT system, including the development of a Financial Literacy Class, which all customers were required to attend prior to being issued a PDC.
Reportedly, KRA is the first DC/TEP provider to process customer payments via PDCs, an innovation of demonstrated value to our own administrative and program staff, our DSS client, and most certainly our customers.
Other KRA program innovations include EAGER (Educate and Accomplish Goals for Employment Readiness); Job FIRST (Focused Intensive Reemployment Success Training); FUSE (Focus on Utilizing Self-Sufficient Energy ); and YES (Youth Employability and Success) for target populations that we serve.