WSR 98-15-139

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES

(Economic Services Administration)

[Filed July 22, 1998, 9:50 a.m.]



Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 97-23-080.

Title of Rule: WAC 388-310-0400, current title: WorkFirst--Participation requirements, revised title: What are the initial requirements of a WorkFirst participant? WAC 388-310-0500, current title: WorkFirst--Job search, revised title: What is included in WorkFirst job search? WAC 388-310-1000, current title: WorkFirst--Vocational education, revised title: What are the requirements for vocational education in WorkFirst? WAC 388-310-1600, current title: WorkFirst--Determination of reasons for nonparticipation, revised title: What are the WorkFirst participation requirements and what happens when a person does not participate? New section WAC 388-310-1050 What are the requirements for job skills training in WorkFirst?

Purpose: Revisions: WAC 388-310-0400, add definition to enhance administration of program; WAC 388-310-0500, revise definition of "preemployment training" as per executive direction; WAC 388-310-1000, clarify vocational education in WorkFirst; WAC 388-310-1600, define affordable and appropriate child care per federal regulation.

Addition: WAC 388-310-1050, clarify job skills training in WorkFirst.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.04.050 and 74.08.090.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 74.08A.250, 74.08A.260, 74.08A.270.

Summary: Chapter 388-310 WAC went into effect November 1, 1997. These are housekeeping changes which will further the intent of the WorkFirst program, increase the department's ability to meet federal requirements for the proportion of the WorkFirst caseload that is active in work activities; and, add definitions that are required by federal regulations.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: Furthers the intent of the WorkFirst program as defined by the legislature.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Sharon Weston, Lacey Government Center, Mailstop 45480, 413-3248; Implementation and Enforcement: Cindy Mund, Lacey Government Center, Mailstop 45480, 413-3206.

Name of Proponent: Department of Social and Health Services, Economic Services Administration, WorkFirst Division, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: This chapter implements parts of the Washington WorkFirst program.

The revised sections and the added section are written in question-and-answer format. We expect that regulated persons (WorkFirst participants) will understand the rules more easily.

Revised WAC 388-310-0400 contains a definition of "work" consistent with the intent of the WorkFirst program.

Revised WAC 388-310-0500 liberalizes the definition of "preemployment" training.

Revised WAC 388-310-1000 clarifies the definition of "vocational education" and which participants' vocational education programs will be supported by WorkFirst. "Job skills training" is removed from this section.

New WAC 388-310-1050 clarifies the definition of "job skills training" and which participants' job skills training programs will be supported by WorkFirst.

Revised WAC 388-310-1600 includes a definition of appropriate and affordable child care. This is required by federal regulation. Using this definition, we are able to distinguish inability to participate in WorkFirst activities from refusal to participate, based upon whether the person is able to find appropriate and affordable child care.

Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: Revised rules are written in question-and-answer format.

WAC 388-310-0400, adds definition of "work" to enhance administration of program; WAC 388-310-0500, revises definition of "preemployment training" as per executive direction; WAC 388-310-1000, clarifies vocational education in WorkFirst; and WAC 388-310-1600, adds definitions of affordable and appropriate child care per federal regulation.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. Rules cover client service eligibility and delivery and do not affect business.

RCW 34.05.328 does not apply to this rule adoption. These rules do not meet the definition of a "significant legislative rule."

Hearing Location: Lacey Government Center (behind Tokyo Bento Restaurant), 1009 College Street S.E., Room 104-B, Lacey, WA 98503, on August 25, 1998, at 10:00 a.m.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Paige Wall by August 14, 1998, phone (360) 902-7540, TTY (360) 902-8324, e-mail pwall@dshs.wa.gov.

Submit Written Comments to: Identify WAC Numbers, Paige Wall, Rules Coordinator, Rules and Policies Assistance Unit, P.O. Box 45850, Olympia, WA 98504-5850, fax (360) 902-8292, by August 25, 1998.

Date of Intended Adoption: No sooner than August 26, 1998.

July 21, 1998

Edith M. Rice, Chief

Office of Legal Affairs

SHS-2462.2

AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 97-20-129, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97)



WAC 388-310-0400  WorkFirst--((Participation)) What are the initial requirements((.)) of a WorkFirst participant? (1) ((Participants are required to participate in job search as the first WorkFirst activity unless temporarily deferred. The department may defer a participant from immediate job search if the participant is:

(a) Working twenty or more hours a week;

(b) Under the age of eighteen and has not completed high school or GED, or is under the age of twenty and is currently attending high school, or its equivalent full-time; or

(c) Experiencing personal or family circumstances which prevents the person's immediate participation in job search.

(2) Participants who are temporarily deferred must participate as part of their individual responsibility plan in an evaluation of their employability from the department.

(3) The department may sanction a person who is nonexempt and who refuses to participate in the employability evaluation under WAC 388-310-0600.

(4) Persons approved by the department or a tribal JOBS or tribal native employment works (NEW) program for post-secondary education or training program prior to the effective date of this chapter will be permitted to continue in the program under WorkFirst until June 30, 1998)) WorkFirst requires you to look for a job as your first activity unless you are temporarily deferred from job search. Reasons that you may be temporarily deferred from looking for a job are:

(a) You work twenty or more hours a week; "work" means to engage in any legal, income generating activity which is taxable under the United States Tax Code or which would be taxable without a treaty between an Indian Nation and the United States; or

(b) You are under the age of eighteen and have not completed high school or GED; or

(c) You are under the age of twenty, and are attending high school or an equivalent full-time; or

(d) Your situation prevents you from looking for a job.

(2) If and when your job search is temporarily deferred, you must take part in an evaluation of your employability as part of your individual responsibility plan (IRP).

(3) You must follow instructions from your case manager and/or job service specialist as written in your IRP.

(4) If you do not participate in job search, or in the activities listed in your IRP during your temporary deferral from job search, and you do not have a good reason, the department will impose a financial penalty, sometimes called a sanction.



[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 97-20-129, 388-310-0400, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]



AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 97-20-129, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97)



WAC 388-310-0500  WorkFirst--What is included in WorkFirst job search((.))? (1) ((The purpose of)) Job search is ((to provide the participant with the)) an opportunity to learn and use skills ((and abilities needed)) you need to find and keep ((employment)) a job. Job search ((activities)) may include:

(a) Classroom instruction ((on job finding techniques and employer expectations)); and/or

(b) Structured((, consistent, and monitored efforts of the person to discover job openings and apply for available or potentially available employment; and

(c) Self-directed efforts of the person to find and obtain employment.

(2) A participant must meet the published standards of job search participation established in each region or community service office or tribal work program.

(3) A person's participation in job search must be of a quality and frequency that would clearly indicate that the individual is making sincere efforts to immediately obtain any employment.

(4) Participants may participate in pre-employment training as an activity equivalent to seeking employment. Pre-employment training is job skills training which has a prior commitment from an employer to hire the trainee immediately upon completion of the training, at an hourly wage greater than the local entry level wage.

(5) The department may not require a participant to participate in job search for more than twelve weeks without evaluating the person's employability under WAC 388-310-0600)) job search that helps you find job openings, complete applications, practice interviews and apply other skills and abilities with a job search specialist or a group of fellow job-seekers; and/or

(c) Pre-employment training, in which you learn skills you need for an identified entry level job that pays more than average entry level wages. Pre-employment training is an acceptable job search activity when an employer or industry commits to hiring or giving hiring preference to WorkFirst participants who successfully complete pre-employment training.

(2) WorkFirst job search is delivered by the employment security department.

(3) Job search may last up to twelve-continuous weeks. Job search specialists will review your progress continuously, and by the end of the first four weeks, job search specialists will determine whether or not you should continue in job search. Job search will end when:

(a) You find a job; or

(b) You become exempt from WorkFirst requirements (see WAC 388-310-0300); or

(c) Your situation changes and you are temporarily deferred from continuing with job search (see WAC 388-310-0400); or

(d) Job search specialists have determined that you need additional skills and/or experience to find a job.

(4) At the end of the job search period, you will be referred back to your DSHS case manager for further action.



[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 97-20-129, 388-310-0500, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]



AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 97-20-129, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97)



WAC 388-310-1000  WorkFirst--What are the requirements for vocational education((.)) in WorkFirst? (1) Vocational education is training ((in a specific occupation provided by a private college, technical school or community college licensed, authorized or certified by the state, or provided by a certified tribal college. It may not exceed twelve months in length with respect to any individual. It also includes job skills training in specific skills directly related to employment, and entrepreneurial training, offered through community-based organizations, businesses and tribal governments.

(2) The department may include vocational education in the individual responsibility plan when the person:

(a) Is employed twenty or more hours a week in subsidized or unsubsidized employment; or

(b) Lacks job skills presently in demand for entry level jobs in the local labor market and vocational education can provide such skills; and

(c) Would not be able to acquire the skills needed to obtain employment though available openings in:

(i) Work experience under WAC 388-310-1100; or

(ii) On-the-job training under WAC 388-300-1200.

(3) A nonexempt TANF/SFA recipient may participate in vocational education or other post-secondary education or training activities not included on their individual responsibility plan on their own if the person is meeting WorkFirst hourly participation requirements)) leading to a degree or certificate in a specific occupation, offered by accredited public and private technical colleges and schools, community colleges, and tribal colleges.

(2) WorkFirst may include vocational education in your IRP if:

(a) You are working twenty or more hours a week; or

(b) You lack job skills that are in demand for entry level jobs in your area; and

(c) The vocational education program can provide the job skills that you need to qualify for entry level jobs in your area; and

(d) You could not learn the job skills that you need to qualify for entry level jobs in your area by participating in work experience or on-the-job training that is available to you.

(3) When vocational education is included in your IRP, WorkFirst will provide assistance with your costs, if you need assistance and it is not available from other sources. Child care subsidy is available through the working connections child care program.



[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 97-20-129, 388-310-1000, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]



NEW SECTION



WAC 388-310-1050  WorkFirst--What are the requirements for job skills training in WorkFirst? (1) Job skills training is training in specific skills directly related to employment, offered through community-based organizations, businesses, tribal governments, public and private community and technical colleges. Job skills training programs differ as to length, content, and sponsor.

(2) WorkFirst may include job skills training in your IRP if:

(a) You are working twenty or more hours a week; or

(b) You lack job skills that are in demand for entry level jobs in your area; and

(c) The job skills training program can provide the job skills that you need to qualify for entry level jobs in your area; and

(d) You could not learn the job skills that you need to qualify for entry level jobs in your area by participating in work experience or on-the-job training that is available to you.

(3) When job skills training is included in your IRP, WorkFirst will provide assistance with your costs, such as transportation and books, if you need assistance and it is not available from other sources. Child care subsidy is available through the working connections child care program.



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AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 97-20-129, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97)



WAC 388-310-1600  WorkFirst--((Determination of reasons for nonparticipation)) What are the WorkFirst participation requirements and what happens when a person does not participate?. (1) ((The following actions will be considered failure to participate in WorkFirst requirements:

(a) Refusal of a bona fide offer of employment;

(b) Failure to fulfill participation requirements of any components on the person's individual responsibility plan including not participating in:

(i) Drug and/or alcohol assessment;

(ii) Drug and/or alcohol treatment programs when assessed and determined as drug and/or alcohol dependent by a program certified and contracted through chapter 70.96A RCW;

(c) Failure to provide information requested by the department necessary for the development of the individual responsibility plan; or

(d) Not appearing for one or more appointments scheduled by the department or its agent.

(2) When a participant fails to participate in WorkFirst:

(a) The participants will have the opportunity to explain their nonparticipation; and

(b) The department will determine the adequacy of the reasons for nonparticipation. The department may make a determination based on available information if the participant does not provide information as requested.

(3) The department will determine that failure to participate is refusal, unless the participant provides evidence the nonparticipation is based on an inability to participate such as:

(a) Urgent personal or family circumstances interfering with participation which include but are not limited to:

(i) Threatened or actual family violence issues;

(ii) Eviction or immediate legal problems;

(iii) Injury or illness of the participant or of a family member which requires the presence of the participant; or

(iv) Death of a significant person in the participant's life.

(b) Breakdown in support services necessary for the person to participate and the person had no readily available alternative;

(c) The participant is unable to locate formal or informal child care for a child under the age of twelve years of whom they personally provide care and the department fails to provide such care;

(d) The participant is unable to locate other care services for an incapacitated individual living in the same home as a dependent child and the department fails to provide such care;

(e) Determination by a licensed health professional that a physical, mental, or emotional condition is interfering with the required participation; or

(f) The person did not receive a notice of appointment or program requirement)) To participate means that you give the department information requested from you, come to appointments made for you by the department and its agents, do all of the activities listed on your IRP and accept any bona fide offer of employment that you receive.

(2) If you do not participate, WorkFirst will ask you to explain why. The department will determine that:

(a) You had an adequate reason that you were not able to participate; or

(b) You did not have an adequate reason and that you refused to participate.

If the department is not able to contact you, the department will make this decision with the information already on hand.

(3) You have an adequate reason not to participate when you can show that an event made you unable to participate. Such events and circumstances include, but are not limited to:

(a) You, your child(ren), or other family member was ill;

(b) Support services (such as transportation) broke down and you could not make new arrangements right away;

(c) You could not locate care for your child(ren) under thirteen years that is affordable, appropriate, and within a reasonable distance;

"Affordable" means at or below your share of child care costs calculated by the working connections child care program.

"Appropriate" means licensed, certified or approved under state laws and regulations that apply to the type of child care you use, and that you may make your own choice among the child care options that are available in your area.

"Within a reasonable distance" means that you can reach the child care site without travel that exceeds normal expectations in your community.

(d) You could not locate other care services for an incapacitated individual living with you and your dependent child(ren);

(e) You have or had a physical, mental, or emotional condition, determined by a licensed health care professional, that made you unable to participate;

(f) A significant person in your life has died;

(g) You are threatened with or subjected to family violence;

(h) You have received an eviction notice or have another immediate legal problem;

(i) You did not receive notice of a request for information, an appointment or a requirement on your IRP.

(4) If you have an adequate reason that you did not participate, the department will revise your IRP to take your circumstances into account.

(5) If you do not have an adequate reason that you did not participate, the department will find that you refused to participate. The department will notify you that you will be sanctioned starting the next calendar month (see WAC 388-310-1700), unless you start to participate as required. The notice will include information on how to request a fair hearing if you disagree with the department's decision that you refused to participate.



[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 97-20-129, 388-310-1600, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]



Reviser's note: RCW 34.05.395 requires the use of underlining and deletion marks to indicate amendments to existing rules. The rule published above varies from its predecessor in certain respects not indicated by the use of these markings.

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