Like most other states, Texas houses most of its workforce and human services programs in separate agencies: the former administered by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the latter by the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Most individuals utilizing human services at HHSC, like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance or Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) support, are often the very same individuals seeking (or would seek out) TWC workforce services to find gainful employment and re-establish themselves back onto a pathway to self-sufficiency. But separate programs run by different agencies mean these individuals must navigate by themselves a complex bureaucracy to obtain all the help they need.

The Texas Legislature recognized that the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is holding the state back from complete consolidation and program integration that would enable applicants to go through “One Door” to access the full suite of services available and receive holistic case management. Such access and consultation would provide applicants with better guidance to address their unique situations and the ability to navigate the state’s safety-net systems more efficiently, in turn getting those applicants back to work faster and restoring their sense of dignity and purpose.

In sync with the Alliance for Opportunity’s efforts to achieve the necessary changes at the federal level, Texas legislators took a two-pronged approach to initiate the “One Door” model implementation process during this legislative session. First, they passed a formal resolution to Congress urging federal lawmakers to amend WIOA to enable states like Texas to explore total workforce and human services program consolidation like Utah did in the 1990s (before WIOA’s passage in 2014). Second, they created a task force to develop an implementation plan for the Legislature to consider before the next legislative session—identifying steps the state can take today to begin the process and any federal laws or regulations (like WIOA) that stand in the way of full implementation. Both bills are awaiting the governor’s signature.

Louisiana and Georgia are also taking steps to explore the “One Door” model. With Congress’s approval, states are ready to implement innovative solutions to alleviate poverty and create new opportunities for those in need to thrive.

Learn more about the One-Door Policy.