Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County


Organization Profile: The Workforce Development Council (WDC) oversees the WorkSource (One-Stop) system in King County, Washington, linking its own employment and training efforts with those of the private sector, community organizations, colleges, labor groups, and government. Its mission is “to champion a workforce and learning system that enables the Seattle-King County region to be a world leader in producing a vibrant economy and training opportunities for all residents.” One-Stop WorkSource centers and affiliates throughout King County offer information and resources, in addition to active job matching, and development of jobseeker skills and training to fit business needs. For youth, WDC leads a comprehensive youth development system that includes internships, mentoring, work-based learning, and job opportunities.

The WDC is a private, nonprofit organization with an annual budget of approximately $20 million. Funding comes from the Department of Labor and other federal agencies, as well as from private foundations.

A major focus of the WDC is to serve the workforce development needs of businesses and employers. The WDC system provides a wide variety of business services throughout the county. The WDC also plays a critical role in convening industry, education, and labor leaders around industry-specific issues, finding solutions to the problems identified by the partners.

The WDC’s core business is to improve the ability of King County’s workforce to meet the demands of industry. Adult jobseekers are served through the One-Stop career center WorkSource sites and through many innovative programs designed for specific populations and needs. The WDC’s youth programs serve youth aged 14 to 21 (youth over 18 can be served in the adult programs as well) and prepare them for continuing education and the workforce.

Program Summary: The focus of this project was on building model partnerships among WIA programs and the behavioral health system of care in order to better serve youth enrolled in WIA programs. As a result of this project, WDC representatives joined an existing partnership, the King County’s System of Care Partnership, which is an inter-agency group addressing linkages between the mental health system, K-12 education and community-based agencies. Mental health, developmental disabilities, public health, several local school systems, juvenile justice, child services and the United Way are among the agencies and organizations represented on the Partnership. The System of Care Partnership, largely comprised of policy-makers from represented agencies, discussed eligibility requirements, cross training needs, sharing of information, and addressed barriers that young people and disability advocates were experiencing in trying to access multiple systems. Additionally, grant partners worked directly with a local youth mental health and substance abuse provider to ensure that all enrolled youth in this demonstration project could receive access to comprehensive mental health and learning disability assessments as needed.

Through the project, two care coordinators were hired to assist case managers in identifying youth with mental health needs, developing individual service plans and assessing the mental health services that youth needed to successfully participate in WIA-supported youth programs.

Program Structure/Design: WDC youth programs serve more than 2,000 young people across King County each year. Programs are administered through subcontracts with competitively selected agencies and organizations. Services are coordinated with the One-Stop WorkSource Centers. A wide array of services are available to eligible youth. These services include those that prepare youth for academic and workplace success, develop leadership skills, and provide supportive services that are needed to participate in program offerings.

WDC subcontracting agencies use a number of methods and criteria to determine the needs of eligible customers with disabilities. For youth interested in enrolling in one of the WDC’s youth programs, a designated staff person asks about special education participation in the public school system. If a young person has had previous special education involvement, this staff person works with local schools to get pre-existing assessments and Individualized Educational Plans. This information is then used for appropriate placement and for customized services in a WDC program. The initial assessment focuses on each customer’s service needs, goals, and barriers to success, motivation, and potential services. During the initial phase, each youth undergoes a test of basic skills to determine the appropriate educational strategy. Assessment is ongoing to ensure that services meet individual needs. Based on the assessment, staff and the youth develop an individual training plan that outlines the young person’s short/long-term goals and barriers to success. At regular intervals, the case manager and customer go back and review progress towards each action step and goal. When goals are achieved, new goals and steps are created.

Youth staff assesses basic skills through either the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) or the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). Both of these tests have pre- and post- measures that staff use to determine basic skills needs (at intake) as well as basic skills gains (during and after educational services). Some instructors also use the educational curriculum provided by the U.S. Basics organization to determine academic progress and for teaching. The U.S. Basics system uses the TABE test at entry to diagnose basic-skill deficiencies and needs, and allows the educational staff to use a wide variety of texts, projects and software, including individualized tools, to teach students and track progress. The State of Washington Learning Needs Assessment is used with participants to detect hidden disabilities or mental health issues that would require more formalized assessment. Youth studying for the GED are given structured tutorials and practice tests.

The demonstration project targeted youth with hidden disabilities including those with learning disabilities and mental health needs. The purpose was to identify these youth, evaluate their disability, and provide appropriate treatment and support. The definitions for mental health needs consisted of diagnoses from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-4R), the reference diagnosis used by medical providers. Case managers identified youth who potentially had mental health needs. These youth were referred to the care coordinators, hired by this project, for evaluation and referral to appropriate services. The referral form, developed for this project, describes areas of concern based on staff observations for the youth. Youth participated in individualized and tailored care planning sessions. These planning sessions resulted in an individualized, strength-based plan of care for each participating youth.

States of Operation: WA
ODEP Funded: Yes
Profile Year: 2007


Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: The WDC works with its board of directors and Youth Council membership to ensure that youth have access to job shadow experiences and site visits. WDC youth programs also work with the local “Employment Action Resource Network (EARN)” — a pre-existing interagency partnership focused on youth employment. EARN brings together multiple youth serving agencies throughout King County to provide a consolidated approach to career exploration, internship/job development, and job placement/retention. EARN’s mission is to help youth and young adults successfully enter the workforce by advancing the skills of young people, employers, and employment professionals through the sharing of resources, best practices and advocacy. The ability to combine resources for this service provides for efficiencies and effectiveness, such as one contact for each employer to liaison with all partners, one employer database, one group to organize job fairs, field trips, career shadowing, etc. EARN has a strong base of over 150 supportive employers, and continues to develop new relationships.

A number of youth participated in Digital Bridge and or Youth Build which included internships. These internships led to competitive employment opportunities.

Connecting Activities: All WDC youth subcontracting agencies provide support services to enrolled youth. Support services include, but are not limited to the following: transportation assistance through bus passes, tuition, books, and supplies, clothing, temporary housing needs, formal disability assessments to diagnosis disabilities and accommodations, and health and nutrition assistance. If a young person needs additional support services, each contractor can provide those services or can make referrals to other agencies in the community.

Comprehensive guidance and counseling is provided by case managers and instructors. Counseling is wrapped into youth development activities. These services include support groups, violence prevention training, self-esteem development, and leadership development. Adult mentoring is provided through long-term relationships between youth and staff, who interact on a daily basis in most cases.

For the demonstration project, case managers identified youth with potential mental health care needs and completed a form for referral to the care coordinator. The care coordinator then completed an assessment using a tool called the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS-MH). This tool was designed to be used as an assessment tool for use in making decisions around treatment and support services. It was also used to measure individual progress and assess the quality of services provided. For more information on this tool, go to When a youth was discharged from service, a follow-up CANS-MH was also completed to document the change over time.

Organization Name: Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County
Organization Director: Kris Stadelman
Program Name: Youth with Disabilities Demonstration Project
Street Address: 2003 Western Avenue, Suite 250
City: Seattle
State: WA

Contact Person: Kris Stadelman
Contact E-mail: