MR #20.16: Voluntary SNAP Employment & Training Program

 Illinois Department of Human Services Logo



  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) provides an opportunity for SNAP recipients to obtain employer driven training, access to career paths, and the support they need to be successful, leading to self-sufficiency. 
  • Illinois for many years has operated a basic employment and training program that mostly served mandatory able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who were subject to the SNAP Work Requirement in counties where contracted E&T provider slots were available. Public Act 101-0566 which was signed into law on 8/23/2019 provided an option for IDHS to transition to a voluntary program which would offer services on a first come-first served basis to all SNAP recipients statewide who volunteer, except for those receiving TANF cash.
  • A Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) located in a county that does not have a SNAP E&T Provider is responsible for doing an assessment of the customer's work skills and education and making an appropriate referral to a community based organization (COB) of the customer's choice that can provide the services the individual needs to become employable.  
  • In addition to a list of contracted providers within the county, each FCRC should create an updated Resource Directory of the community services available within the county to assist customers in finding the right match with an organization that provides services to meet their specific needs. The list should be maintained and readily available so that referrals can be done immediately on a first come-first served basis.
  • FCRCs in counties with a SNAP E&T Provider will refer customers to the Provider. The SNAP E&T Provider will do the assessment and make the referral to the appropriate entity that can best serve customer's specific needs and track their progress. The Provider will notify the FCRC once to the referral is made and when the customer is no longer participating or is not making progress.  

Voluntary SNAP E&T Program

  • Public Act 101-0566 which was signed into law on 8/23/2019 allowed the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to transition from operating a mandatory SNAP Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T) to a voluntary program. IDHS Bureau of Workforce Development took the lead in the redesign of the voluntary program with the vision of offering services to all employable SNAP recipients (except those receiving TANF cash) statewide who are motivated and have a desire to enhance their work skills and education so they can reach their full potential in getting meaningful work and livable wages.
  • SNAP customers are often faced with multiple barriers and challenges to gaining employment. To help a person become gainfully employed, services and activities need to be tailored to their individual needs. The redesign to a voluntary program offers a more flexible program that targets the individual needs of each person who receives SNAP. IDHS has collaborated with a network of contracted providers, community-based organizations (CBOs), community colleges/universities and other outside entities to ensure that there are available services to meet the barriers that SNAP customers often face in trying to reach their employment goals.

Who Can Volunteer?

  • All individuals receiving SNAP may volunteer to participate in the program, except those receiving TANF cash. Participants in the program must receive SNAP benefits in every month that they receive SNAP E&T services. Participants in the program are not required to be with a SNAP E&T Provider.
  • The redesign to a voluntary program eliminates the mandatory requirement to participate in SNAP E&T for an individual subject to the Work Requirement. It is no longer a requirement to hold a Provider slot open for an ABAWD. Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis. Volunteering for the program is a way for an individual to meet the Work Requirement when it is in effect.

FCRC Responsibilities

  • In addition to a list of contracted providers within the county, each FCRC should create an updated Resource Directory of the types of community services available in their county to assist customers in finding the right match with an organization that can address their specific needs. The list should be maintained and readily available so that referrals can be done immediately on a first come-first served basis. There is no longer a requirement to hold a Provider slot open for an ABAWD.
  • At initial application, redetermination (REDE), or whenever there is contact, inform a customer of the voluntary SNAP E&T Program and explain the opportunities available that may be of benefit to them to participate. Give or mail the customer SNAP Employment and Training Program brochure (DHS 4538).
  • A Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) in a county that does not have a SNAP E&T Provider is responsible for completing the assessment, Employability Plan, tracking the customer's progress and issuing supportive services. 

Assessment and Employability Plan

Initial Application/REDE

An assessment involves gathering customer background information and identifying barriers that affect employment. Complete an assessment of a customer who expresses an interest in the program during the initial application or REDE interview.

Active Cases

For active cases, send a 267 VCL for the assessment appointment within 30 days from the date of a customer's request to participate in SNAP E&T.

Doing the Assessment and Completing the Plan

  • During the assessment interview, complete Employment, Education and Training (Form 4001A) and the SNAP Employability Plan (Form 2839). Discuss the customer's education, work interest and past work experiences to determine if there are any potential barriers that may prevent the individual from achieving their goals.
  • Complete a SNAP Employability Plan based on the information obtained during the assessment. The plan must contain:
    • the specific employment goals;
    • the SNAP E & T activity;
    • the supportive services that must be provided or arranged in order to help the customer take part in the activity and obtain the employment goals;
    • a statement that the supportive services have been provided by the Department or otherwise arranged, including an explanation of the specific arrangements and services provided.

Making the Referral

Assist the individual in determining the most effective contracted Provider, community- based organization (CBO), community college/university or other outside entity of their choice for services that can best meet their needs. Make the referral to the appropriate service provider.

Note: The FCRC only assumes these duties if there is NOT a SNAP E&T Provider within the county. If there is not a Provider, the FCRC is responsible for managing the case and issuing supportive services.

SNAP E&T Provider Assessment and Employability Plan

  • For counties with a SNAP E&T Provider, the FCRC refers the customer to the Provider using Form 2151. The Provider will complete the assessment and Employability Plan, issue supportive services and job retention services.
  • The Provider will send a Report of Change (Form 2151A) to inform the FCRC of the activity the customer is engaged in. This must be done every time a customer changes activity.

IES SNAP E&T Screen Entries

  • On the IES SNAP E&T Screen, enter the appropriate activity information in the designated fields. See WAG 21-06-02.
  • Assign the customer to an activity based on the assessment of their needs and the eligibility criteria for each activity. A customer in the SNAP E&T Program may take part in one or more of the following activities:

Basic Education

A customer in need of additional education may be referred to testing, counseling, and educational resources at public community colleges, adult education centers, or state or local agencies, or to programs which sponsor such activities, including English as a Second Language (ESL).

Vocational Training

The Vocational Training activity is for customers who will benefit from short-term training to obtain unsubsidized employment. This activity offers special time-limited services for customers who can benefit from short-term vocational training, such as a person with the interest and ability to complete the training program and be hired in a position for which the person has trained, or are readily employable with the addition of short-term training for specific job openings which are available.

Job Readiness

  • Job Readiness gives a customer a chance to return to work by refining job seeking and interviewing skills through intensive training.
  • Job Readiness can include counseling, job placement services, skills assessment, job seeking skills training, life skills workshops, phone bank skills sessions, and information sharing about the labor market.

Supervised Job Search

  • Supervised Job Search is an activity where the customer will make contact with employers in order to secure employment. Customers must attend all scheduled meetings, including pre-arranged Job Skills Workshops. The customer is sent a notice of all scheduled meetings. The meetings include a review of progress in completing the component requirements. Job seeking skills exercises are conducted during the meeting.

Work Experience

  • A customer may participate in the Work Experience component to:
    • obtain a meaningful work experience; or
    • maintain or enhance existing employment skills.
  • Unpaid work is performed for public or private not-for-profit organizations (employers). Employers must not use SNAP E&T customers to displace employees.


Earnfare gives adult customers who SNAP benefits the opportunity to earn cash assistance and gain work experience. Earnfare participants may earn up to a maximum of $350 per month after completing their SNAP work off hours. SNAP work off hours are participation hours in Community Workfare that are equal to the value of their SNAP benefit amount divided by the State minimum wage.

Community Workfare

Community workfare includes unpaid work a person performs at a not for profit organization, such as a school, church, or a government agency that has an agreement with IDHS.

The person chooses their own placement with an approved organization/agency, with input from the worker. Community workfare provides the person with employment skills and references that can help them get a job.

Entry into the Activity

A person may participate in this activity when they have little or no work experience and need to obtain employment skills or as a precursor to Earnfare.

Activity Requirements

A person's monthly participation hours are based on the amount of SNAP benefits received divided by the State minimum wage.

A person who participates in Community Workfare for the number of hours required, meets the work requirement for SNAP benefits.

Supportive Services

See chart in WAG 21-06-11 for Supportive Service.

Community Service

A customer may self-initiate Community Service with a community-based organization. Community Service offers individuals receiving SNAP an opportunity to meet the Work Requirement when the policy is in effect. The customer is required to work an average of 20 hours per week (80 hours per month) to meet the SNAP Work Requirement.

Supportive Services

Community Service is a way for customers subject to the SNAP Work Requirement to meet the requirement when the policy is in effect. Since Community Service is not a component of SNAP E&T supportive services cannot be issued.

SNAP to Success Initiative

This initiative allows Illinois to maximize 50 percent funds through third-party partnerships, allowing Providers to expand resources and serve more individuals.

SNAP recipients obtain marketable and in-demand skills that result in stable employment or entrepreneurship opportunities. SNAP to Success seeks to provide SNAP recipients with job-driven training, tools and access to career pathways that lead to family and individual supporting and sustainable jobs.

Supportive Services

  • Supportive Services are intended to help the customer during their participation in any SNAP E&T activities to include employment.
  • Participant costs should be reasonable and necessary to engage in a SNAP E&T activity. A cost is reasonable if, in its nature and amount, it does not exceed that which a prudent person would pay under the circumstances prevailing at the time the decision was made to incur this cost. Necessary costs are incurred to carry out essential functions, cannot be avoided without adversely affecting participant outcomes and do not duplicate existing efforts.
  • When providing Supportive Service, do the following:
  • Complete the Participant Reimbursement Form and document in Case Comments the justification of the expenses and the receipts of expenditures. This information must also be maintained in the Electronic Case File (ECR).
  • Other resources should always be considered prior to utilizing SNAP E&T funds for Supportive Services. Cost's limits on categories are applicable if listed in the chart below and can only exceed the amounts listed if approved by a Workforce Development supervisor.


Other sources of payment should always be considered prior to utilizing SNAP E&T funds, these may include: Pell Grants, SEOG, WIOA or Worked Based Tuition Assistance. High schools, community colleges and community-based organizations (CBO's) may provide no cost tutoring for students.

Tuition/Books/Supplies - Supplies required by an employer or instructional training program Example Costs:
  • tuition and books.
  • All other students or employees must also have the same requirements for book/supplies. Must have employer or training program verification that books or other supplies are needed.
Reasonable Accommodations Supplies
  • Participants with disabilities may purchases goods or services (including testing) that accommodate an individual's disability, if no other resources are available.
  • Determine the need for tools on a case-by-case basis. Limit to $500. These costs do not fall under the clothing limit as they are related to work and can include safety glasses, steel toe protective boots, work gloves and overalls, etc.
  • SNAP funds may not be used to purchase guns or ammunition or other items that are intended to inflict bodily harm on others.
Training materials
  • Items required for a training class or series.


Other sources of payment should always be considered prior to utilizing SNAP E&T funds, these may include: Pell Grants, SEOG, WIOA or Worked Based Tuition Assistance. High schools, community colleges and community-based organizations (CBO's) may provide no cost tutoring for students.

All expenses related to participating in an educational or training program.

Testing: testing may include (though not limited to): Literacy level testing, Aptitude testing, college entry exams, or skills proficiency


  • Part of an approved training or educational activity.
  • Part of employment screening.
  • Maintain employment.
  • License/Certification expenses.
  • Union dues if they must be paid to secure employment or for the month of employment. A statement from the Union must be provided.
  • Testing necessary to acquire a license or certification but not included in a license fee.

Example: Food Handler's Card, Nursing Assistant Certification.

Course Training Registration Fees
  • Participants may receive assistance with tuition, lab fees, and other education related costs necessary for training connected to a SNAP E&T activity.
  • For course registration fees over $500, verification of registration and prior approval is required. Must document how the training will enhance SNAP E&T participation, and when a certificate and /or degree is completed.
  • ID/Driver's License Documentation
  • Testing Fee and Standard License Fee Documentation
  • Driver's license, including testing and standard issuance fees. This does not include paying penalty fees or debts such as license suspension due to excessive fines.
  • Enhanced license /CDL.
  • Citizenship and naturalization documentation, if required for SNAP E&T activities or employment.
  • Transcripts or documentation of certificates or GED earned.
Drug Tests
  • Only if required for employment or training.
  • Only if required for employment, training or a background check
  • Testing and/or documents needed for training or to support job search activities.
Student Activity fees
  • Only if required to participate in class.


Maximum $300 per participant per program year

Clothing necessary to seek, accept and maintain employment or to participate in a work like activity or training program Examples:
  • Uniforms
  • Special Shoes
  • Special Clothing /Interview clothing
  • Protective Devices /PPE
  • Work Appropriate Clothing
  • Under Clothing
  • Other apparel as needed


  • If a participant is ineligible for childcare through Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), but performs approved SNAP E&T activities, you may approve childcare services for the participant through a third party.
  • Please ensure that verification of denial from this program is provided in the client's file.

Medical fees and supplies:

  • Funds for medical assistance are allowable after exhausting all other resources, including coverage through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Including emergency dental work, inoculations, eye examinations, and eyeglasses.


Maximum $500 per participant per program year

  • Cannot be used for mortgage assistance.
  • After all other resources have been exhausted, housing assistance may also cover awards to prevent the shut-off of essential utilities such as electricity, water, heating and cooling. Shut-off awards should not be ongoing assistance but should be limited to once (or two times maximum) per program year. Disconnection notice or a letter of intent to disconnect utilities from a landlord may be used as supporting documentation.
Cell Phones/Cell Phone Minutes
  • Allowable only for individuals engaged in job retention services.


Maximum $250 per participant per program year

Hygiene items needed to maintain personal appearance and grooming to participate in activities or accept employment. Personal hygiene items include but is not limited to:
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Toothpaste/mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Shaving supplies
  • Feminine hygiene supplies
  • Feminine undergarments
  • Laundry supplies
  • Hair cut/color


Maximum $1400 per participant per program year

Public Transportation and Fuel Cards Public transportation and Fuel cards including though not limited to:
  • Fuel cards
  • Transit cards
  • Bus tickets/cards
  • Uber/Lyft
  • Taxi
  • Commuter Rail
Bike Repair
  • Bicycle Repairs can include but are not limited to:
  • Bicycle Repairs can include but are not limited to:
    • Tires/Tubes
    • Chain
    • Bike Frame
    • Helmet
    • Lights
  • Similar to automobile repairs, you must document necessary estimates to the best of your ability, depending on the availability of local bike repair shops.
Auto Repair Auto repairs require the following:
  • A minimum of two (2) written estimates, except when it is not possible, such as an inoperable vehicle. When the car is inoperable, use the estimate form the garage and contact another garage, requesting a bid on similar repairs needed for the vehicle to be in working order.
  • All work and replacement parts must be performed by a licensed business.
  • May include charges for repair estimates (diagnostic testing), if a fee is standard for these services.
  • Towing for car repairs only
  • Minor repairs of personal vehicle (registered to participant) necessary to return the vehicle to operable condition, such as:
    • Brakes
    • Water Pump
    • Timing belt
    • Batteries
    • Chains
    • Lights
    • Tires

Work Provision Sanction

A customer who is participating in the voluntary SNAP E&T Program and later decides to stop cannot be sanctioned for nonparticipation. The participant can stop participation or choose another activity if they are not progressing. A sanction can only be imposed on customers who are not exempt from the Work Provisions in PM 03-15-01. These individuals must:

  • register for work by receipt of the SNAP Work Registration Notice (Form 2646):
  • at the time of application and every 12 months after initial registration.
  • during the certification period when an exempt individual becomes nonexempt.
  • provide sufficient information regarding employment status or availability to work.
  • cooperate with TANF work and training program requirements, if receiving TANF. Note: TANF participants cannot participate in SNAP E&T.
  • accept a bona fide offer of suitable employment.
  • report to an employer to whom referred if the potential employment meets the suitability requirement.
  • not voluntarily and without good cause quit a job of 30 hours a week.
  • not voluntarily reduce work hours to less than 30 hours per week without good cause.

Provider and E&T Program Meetings

  • A staffing is case management and how IDHS staff and the Provider assess and support a customer's progress in an activity. All participants must have a staffing.
  • The FCRC and Workforce Development staff along with the Provider and other interested parties, will work together to help a customer who is not progressing get back on track. Other interested parties included in the staffing may be counseling prevention service providers or other professionals who are involved in the customer's plan.
  • If a participant is engaged with a Provider for 6 months or more, a full staffing must be completed. A participant who is cooperating but not progressing should be evaluated at the time of the staffing to determine if a change is appropriate.
  • A staffing may be held in-person or via telephone conference. A Provider staffing should be scheduled monthly. A customer staffing is scheduled as needed.

SNAP E&T Forms

All SNAP E&T forms are currently being reviewed for revision. A separate manual release will be provided on the use of the forms shortly.

Manual Page Revisions

PM/WAG manual pages that no longer apply to the voluntary program will be removed from the policy manual and archived. These pages are listed at the end of this manual release.

Manual Revisions

PM I-06-00

PM 03-15-02

PM 21-06-00

PM 21-06-01

PM 21-06-02

PM 21-06-03

PM 21-06-04

PM 21-06-05

PM 21-06-05-a

PM 21-06-06

PM 21-06-07

PM 21-06-07-a

PM 21-06-07-b

PM 21-06-07-c

PM 21-06-07-d

PM 21-06-07-e

PM 21-06-07-f

PM 21-06-07-g

PM 21-06-07-h

PM 21-06-08

PM 21-06-09

PM 21-06-10

PM 21-06-10-a (obsolete)

PM 21-06-10-b (obsolete)

PM 21-06-10-c (obsolete)

PM 21-06-10-d (obsolete)

PM 21-06-10-e (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11

PM 21-06-11-a (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11-b (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11-c (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11-d (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11-e (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11-f (obsolete)

PM 21-06-11-g (obsolete)

WAG 03-25-05-a

WAG 03-25-05-b

WAG 21-06-00

WAG 21-06-01

WAG 21-06-02

WAG 21-06-03

WAG 21-06-04

WAG 21-06-06

WAG 21-06-07-a

WAG 21-06-07-b

WAG 21-06-07-c

WAG 21-06-07-d

WAG 21-06-07-e

WAG 21-06-07-f

WAG 21-06-07-g

WAG 21-06-07-h

WAG 21-06-08

WAG 21-06-09

WAG 21-06-10

WAG 21-06-10-a (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-10-b (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-10-c (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-10-d (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-10-e (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11

WAG 21-06-11-a (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11-b (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11-c (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11-d (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11-e (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11-f (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-11-g (obsolete)

WAG 21-06-12

[signed copy on file]

Grace B. Hou

Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

Forms Referenced:

267 VCL

Form 2151

Form 2151 A

Form 2646

Form 2839

Form 4001 A

DHS 4538