Skip to main content
Self Sufficiency Standard

Counseling Tool

The Self-Sufficiency Standard has been used as a counseling tool to help participants in work and training programs access benefits and develop strategies to become self-sufficient. Computer-based counseling tools allow users to evaluate possible wages, then compare information on available programs and work supports to their own costs and needs. Computer-based Self-Sufficiency Calculators, for use by counselors with clients and the public, have been developed for California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, New York City, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington State, Washington, D.C., and Wyoming. These tools integrate a wide variety of data not usually brought together, allowing clients to access information about the benefits of various programs and work supports that can move them towards self-sufficiency. Clients are empowered with information and tools that allow them to develop and test out their own strategies for achieving self-sufficient incomes.

  • In Washington State, the Self-Sufficiency Calculator is an online tool created by the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County to support career planning with customers and to track progress toward economic self-sufficiency. Career counselors working under the Workforce Investment Act use the Calculator as a counseling tool, empowering customers to better understand financial situation, goals, opportunities, and challenges. Using the calculator, career counselors gather customer data to measure whether customers move closer to economic self-sufficiency while participating in our programs. The Calculator received the NPower Seattle’s 2009 Innovation Award.
  • In Oregon, the Prosperity Planner, a Self-Sufficiency Standard online counseling tool is used by WorkSource Center staff to determine Training scholarship awards and support service needs of job seekers. It is also used as a financial counseling tool for job seekers.
  • The Snohomish County Workforce Development Council in Washington developed a self-sufficiency matrix that is used in case management. The self-sufficiency matrix can be used as a case management tool, a self-assessment tool, a measurement tool, and a communication tool. The matrix is composed of 25 key outcome scales (e.g., employment stability, education, English language skills, life skills, and child care). The scales are based on a continuum of “in crisis” to “thriving.” The case manager works with the customer to score the scales and monitor progress.
  • The Financial Literacy Independence Program (FLIP) utilizes the Self-Sufficiency Standard to teach the young women what the actual cost of living in New York City is and what it entails to become economically self-sufficient adult woman. FLIP is a comprehensive series of workshops that focus on teaching girls from underserved areas the fundamentals of economic self-sufficiency. Unlike many financial literacy programs that only focus on saving money and banking, FLIP utilizes the Self-Sufficiency Standard to teach the young women what the actual cost of living in New York City is and what it entails to become economically self-sufficient adult woman.
  • PathWays PA developed The Pennsylvania Online Training and Benefits Eligibility Tool, an interactive career-counseling tool based on the 2012 Pennsylvania Self-Sufficiency Standard. The online counseling tool has been used by counselors and clients to test the ability of various wages to meet a family’s self-sufficiency needs, as well as what training programs they might be eligible for at their current wage. This tool also allows clients to apply for benefits immediately or for counselors to do so on a client’s behalf.
  • In Berks County, PA, the Berks County Workforce Investment Board uses the Self-Sufficiency Standard in some of their workshops to get people acquainted with how much they will need to earn to meet their basic needs.
  • The Denver County Office of Economic Development, Division of Workforce Development uses the Self-Sufficiency Standard as well as the Colorado Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculator to inform participants about the career choices that will move them toward economic self-sufficiency. The Workplace Center at the Community College of Denver utilizes the Colorado Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard Calculator to counsel participants on career choices, real wage determination and avoiding potential obstacles to economic self-sufficiency such as the systemic “cliff effect” built in to many work support programs.
  • Virginia Kids developed The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Virginia – Budget Worksheet Exercise as a counseling tool.
  • In the D.C. Metropolitan Area, Wider Opportunities for Women developed and piloted a Teen Curriculum based on the Standard that educates adolescents about career choices, life decisions, and self-sufficiency.
  • In New York the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement uses the Standard to train counselors to better communicate ideas about Self-Sufficiency and economic issues with their clients and assess benefit eligibility.