WSR 06-04-069

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
(Economic Services Administration)

[ Filed January 30, 2006, 4:23 p.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 05-22-099.

Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: WAC 388-310-0400 WorkFirst -- Entering the WorkFirst program as a mandatory participant, 388-310-0500 WorkFirst -- Individual responsibility plan, 388-310-0600 WorkFirst -- Job search, 388-310-0700 WorkFirst -- Employability evaluation, 388-310-0900 WorkFirst -- Basic education, and 388-310-1000 WorkFirst -- Vocational education.

Hearing Location(s): Blake Office Park East, Rose Room, 4500 10th Avenue S.E., Lacey, WA (one block north of the intersection of Pacific Avenue S.E. and Alhadeff Lane, behind Goodyear Tire. A map or directions are available at http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/msa/rpau/docket.html or by calling (360) 664-6097), on March 7, 2006, at 10:00 a.m.

Date of Intended Adoption: Not earlier than March 8, 2006.

Submit Written Comments to: DSHS Rules Coordinator, P.O. Box 45850, Olympia, WA 98504, delivery 4500 10th Avenue S.E., Lacey, WA, e-mail fernaax@dshs.wa.gov, fax (360) 664-6185, by 5:00 p.m., March 7, 2006.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Stephanie Schiller, DSHS Rules Consultant, by March 3, 2006, TTY (360) 664-6178 or phone (360) 664-6097 or by e-mail at schilse@dshs.wa.gov.

Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: These proposed rules will implement a comprehensive evaluation process for WorkFirst clients and make changes to the approval criteria for training that is determined necessary to assist a client to find and keep employment.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: These amended rules implement the recommendations of the WorkFirst reexamination workgroup as endorsed by Governor Gregoire. They are being filed under the authority of RCW 74.08.090 which directs the department to ensure uniform statewide application of rules. This authority also directs the department to ensure that the spirit and purpose of this title is complied with.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057, 74.08.090.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057, 74.08.090.

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

Name of Proponent: Department of social and health services, governmental.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting, Implementation and Enforcement: Sandy Jsames, 1009 College S.E., Lacey, WA 98504, (360) 725-4648.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. This proposed rule does not have an economic impact on small businesses, it only affects DSHS clients by outlining the rules clients must meet in order to be eligible for the department's cash assistance or food benefit programs.

A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328. These amendments are exempt as allowed under RCW 34.05.328 (5)(b)(vii) which states in-part, "[t]his section does not apply to....rules of the department of social and health services relating only to client medical or financial eligibility and rules concerning liability for care of dependents."

January 25, 2006

Andy Fernando, Manager

Rules and Policies Assistance Unit

3635.1
AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 02-15-067, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02)

WAC 388-310-0400   WorkFirst--Entering the WorkFirst program as a mandatory participant.   (1) What happens when I enter the WorkFirst program as a mandatory participant?

If you are a mandatory participant, you must follow instructions as written in your individual responsibility plan (see WAC 388-310-0500), which is written after ((the case manager asks you a series of questions about your situation to evaluate)) you have participated in a comprehensive evaluation of elements related to your employability. If you have been identified as someone who needs necessary supplemental accommodation (NSA) services (defined in chapter 388-472 WAC) your case manager will first develop an accommodation plan to help you access WorkFirst services. The case manager will use the accommodation plan to help develop your IRP with you. If you have been identified as a victim of family violence (defined in WAC 388-61-001), you and your case manager will develop an IRP to help you with your situation, including referrals to appropriate services.

If you are a mandatory participant, your case manager will refer you to ((job search)) WorkFirst activities unless any of the following applies to you:

(a) You work thirty-two 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 with or without a treaty between an Indian Nation and the United States;

(b) You work sixteen or more hours a week in the federal or state work study program and you attend a Washington state community or technical college at least half time;

(c) You work twenty or more hours a week in unsubsidized employment and attend a Washington state community or technical college at least half time;

(d) You are under the age of eighteen, have not completed high school, GED or its equivalent and are in school full time;

(e) You are eighteen or nineteen years of age and are attending high school or an equivalent full time;

(f) You are pregnant or have a child under the age of twelve months, and are participating in other pregnancy to employment activities. See WAC 388-310-1450;

(g) Your situation prevents you from looking for a job and you are conducting activities identified on your IRP to help you with your situation. (For example, you may be unable to look for a job while you have health problems or you are homeless); or

(h) Your situation prevents you from looking for work because you are a victim of family violence and you are conducting activities on your IRP to help you with your situation.

(2) ((What are my requirements if I am not required to participate in job search activities)) How will I know what my participation requirements are?

(a) ((If and when you are not required to participate in job search activities, you may be required to take part in an employability evaluation.)) Your individual responsibility plan will describe what you need to do to be able to enter job search or other WorkFirst activities and then find a job (see WAC 388-310-0500 and 388-310-0700).

(b) If you enter the pregnancy to employment pathway (described in WAC 388-310-1450(2)), you must take part in an assessment.

(3) What happens if I do not follow my WorkFirst requirements?

If you do not participate in creating an individual Responsibility Plan, job search, or in the activities listed in your individual responsibility plan, and you do not have a good reason, the department will ((reduce your WorkFirst grant ()) follow the sanction((, see)) rules in WAC 388-310-1600(())).

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-15-067, 388-310-0400, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 00-06-062, 388-310-0400, filed 3/1/00, effective 3/1/00; 99-10-027, 388-310-0400, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 98-23-037, 388-310-0400, filed 11/10/98, effective 12/11/98; 97-20-129, 388-310-0400, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 02-15-067, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02)

WAC 388-310-0500   WorkFirst--Individual responsibility plan.   (1) What is the purpose of my individual responsibility plan?

The purpose of your individual responsibility plan is to give you a written statement that describes:

(a) What your responsibilities are; and

(b) Which WorkFirst activities you are required to participate in; and

(c) What services you will receive so you are able to participate.

(2) What is included in my individual responsibility plan?

Your individual responsibility plan includes the following:

(a) What WorkFirst activities you must do and the participation requirements for those activities including the amount of time you will spend doing the activities, a start and end date for each activity and the requirement to participate fully.

(b) Any other specific requirements that are tied to the WorkFirst work activity. For example, you might be required to learn English as part of your work experience activity.

(c) What services we will provide to help you participate in the activity. For example, you may require support services (such as help with paying for transportation) or help with paying childcare.

(d) Your statement that you recognize the need to become and remain employed as quickly as possible.

(3) How is my individual responsibility plan developed?

You and your case manager will work together and use information gathered from your ((employability)) comprehensive evaluation (see WAC 388-310-0700) to develop your individual responsibility plan and decide what activities will be included in it. Then, your case manager will assign you to specific WorkFirst activities that will help you find employment ((as quickly as possible)).

(4) What happens after my individual responsibility plan is completed?

Once your individual responsibility plan is completed:

(a) You will sign and get a copy of your individual responsibility plan.

(b) You and your case manager will review your plan as necessary over the coming months to make sure your plan continues to meet your employment needs. You will sign and get a copy of your individual responsibility plan every time it is reviewed and changed.

(5) What should I do if I cannot go to a required WorkFirst appointment or activity because of a temporary situation outside of my control?

If you cannot participate because of a temporary situation outside of your control, you must call the telephone number shown on your individual responsibility plan on the same day you were to report to explain your situation. You will be given an excused absence. Some examples of excused absences include:

(a) You, your children or other family members are ill;

(b) Your transportation or child care arrangements break down and you cannot make new arrangements in time to comply;

(c) A significant person in your life died; or

(d) A family violence situation arose or worsened.

(6) What happens if I don't call in on the same day I am unable to attend to get an excused absence?

If you do not call in on the same day you are unable to attend to get an excused absence, it will be considered an unexcused absence.

If you exceed the number of unexcused absences allowed on your individual responsibility plan, without good cause, your case manager will begin the sanction process. (See WAC 388-310-1600 for more details.)

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-15-067, 388-310-0500, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 99-10-027, 388-310-0500, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 98-23-037, 388-310-0500, filed 11/10/98, effective 12/11/98; 97-20-129, 388-310-0500, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 05-16-107, filed 8/2/05, effective 9/2/05)

WAC 388-310-0600   WorkFirst--Job search.   (1) What is job search?

Job search is an opportunity to learn and use skills you need to find and keep a job. Job search may include:

(a) Classroom instruction; and/or

(b) Structured 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) Preemployment training; and/or

(d) High-wage/high-demand training.

(2) What is preemployment training?

Preemployment training helps you learn skills you need for an identified entry level job that pays more than average entry level wages.

(a) Preemployment 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 preemployment training.

(b) You can find out about current preemployment training opportunities by asking your job service specialist, your case manager or staff at your local community and technical college.

(3) What is high-wage/high-demand training?

(a) There are two types of high-wage/high-demand (HWHD) full-time training options for TANF recipients to complete a certificate or degree that will lead to employment in a high-wage/high-demand occupation:

(i) Information technology, health care or other professional-technical programs: This option allows you to start and finish a one-year or shorter state community or technical college training program in the information technology, health care fields or other professional-technical programs that meet high-wage high-demand criteria; and/or

(ii) Certificate/degree completion: This option allows you to finish up the last year of any certificate or degree program in a high-wage/high-demand field on an exception basis. The high-wage/high-demand criteria for this option is based on median income and high-demand occupations within the local labor market as determined by employment security department.

(b) For both types of HWHD training, the training can be approved one-time only (barring an approved exception to policy). There is no work requirement with either option for the twelve months of training time.

(c) To qualify for HWHD training, you must also:

(i) Meet all of the prerequisites for the course;

(ii) Obtain the certificate or degree within twelve calendar months;

(iii) Participate full time in the training program and make satisfactory progress;

(iv) Work with colocated ESD staff during the last quarter of training for job placement; and

(v) Return to job search once you complete((s)) the educational program if still unemployed.

(4) Who provides me with job search?

You get job search from the employment security department or another organization under contract with WorkFirst to provide these services.

(5) How long do I stay in job search?

Periods of job search will start with a review of the work skills assessment portion of your comprehensive evaluation and may last up to twelve continuous weeks. Job search specialists will monitor your progress. By the end of the first four weeks, a job search specialist will determine whether you should continue in job search. Job search will end when:

(a) You find a full-time job; or

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

(c) Your situation changes and the case manager changes the activities on your IRP to fit your new circumstances (see WAC 388-310-0400); or

(d) After fully participating in job search, and based on your experience in looking for work in the local labor market, it is determined that you need additional skills and/or experience to find a job; or

(e) You have not found a job at the end of the job search period.

(6) What happens at the end of job search if I have not found a job?

At the end of each job search period, you will be referred back to your case manager who will ((conduct a new employability)), at a minimum, review and update the DSHS portion of your comprehensive evaluation if you have not found a job. You and your case manager will also modify your individual responsibility plan.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057, 74.08.090. 05-16-107, 388-310-0600, filed 8/2/05, effective 9/2/05. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-15-067, 388-310-0600, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-04-058, 388-310-0600, filed 1/30/02, effective 3/2/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.340(2), 45 C.F.R. 260.31, RCW 74.08.090, and chapter 74.04 RCW. 00-16-055, 388-310-0600, filed 7/26/00, effective 8/1/00. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 99-10-027, 388-310-0600, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 97-20-129, 388-310-0600, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 00-06-062, filed 3/1/00, effective 3/1/00)

WAC 388-310-0700   WorkFirst--((Employability)) Comprehensive evaluation.   (1) Why do I receive ((an employability)) a comprehensive evaluation?

You ((receive an employability)) participate in a comprehensive evaluation ((from)) with your case manager and other WorkFirst staff to determine:

(a) ((Why you are unable to look for work (if you are temporarily deferred from job search) or why you have been unable to find work in your local labor market)) Your employment strengths, your educational background, family situation and other factors; and

(b) Which WorkFirst activities you need to become employed ((in the shortest time possible)).

(2) What is the ((employability)) comprehensive evaluation and when will it be used?

(a) The ((employability)) comprehensive evaluation is a series of questions ((and)), answers and evaluations focused on your strengths, job skills, education and other relevant elements. The results of the comprehensive evaluation are used to determine your ability to find and keep a job in your local labor market and what WorkFirst activities will help you prepare for and find work. It includes:

(i) An employability evaluation with your case manager, discussing important issues that can affect your ability to find a job, like child care, family violence or substance abuse;

(ii) A work skills assessment to review your education, employment history, employment strengths and job skills; and

(iii) Educational and other evaluations.

(b) You and your case manager and/or social worker use the information and recommendations from ((this)) these evaluations to create or modify your individual responsibility plan, adding activities that help you become employable.

(c) ((Your case manager evaluates your ability to find employment when you are a mandatory WorkFirst participant and have:

(i) Gone through a period of job search without finding a job;

(ii) Been referred back early from job search; or

(iii) Been temporarily deferred from job search.

(d))) After your ((employability)) comprehensive evaluation, you may receive more assessments to find out if you need additional services.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 00-06-062, 388-310-0700, filed 3/1/00, effective 3/1/00; 99-10-027, 388-310-0700, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 97-20-129, 388-310-0700, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 02-15-067, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02)

WAC 388-310-0900   WorkFirst--Basic education.   (1) What is basic education?

Basic education is high school completion, classes to prepare for general equivalency diploma (GED) ((and)), testing to acquire GED certification((. It may include)), adult basic education (ABE) or English as a second language (ESL) training ((if:

(a) It is determined you need this education to become employed or get a better job; and

(b) This activity is combined with paid or unpaid employment or job search; or

(c) You have fully participated in job search without finding a job)).

(2) When do I participate in basic education as part of WorkFirst?

You may participate in basic education as part of WorkFirst under any of the following circumstances:

(a) ((If)) You are twenty years of age or older and ((are working in paid or unpaid employment or in job search for a minimum of twenty hours a week your case manager may add basic education to your IRP as part of your full-time participation.)) your comprehensive evaluation shows you need this education to become employed or get a better job and:

(i) You are enrolled in an approved WorkFirst work activity for at least twenty hours per week; or

(((b))) (ii) You ((may attend full-time basic education classes if you)) have fully participated in job search without finding a job((, and it has been determined that you need this training to become employed)).

(((c))) (b) You may be required to participate if you are a mandatory participant, a parent eighteen or nineteen years of age, you do not have a high school diploma or GED certificate and you need this education in order to find employment.

(((d))) (c) You will be required to be in high school or a GED certification program if you are a mandatory participant, sixteen or seventeen years old and you do not have a high school diploma or GED certificate.

(((e))) (d) Employment security department (ESD) has determined that you are a seasonal worker (that is, your usual pattern of employment is based on recurring cycle of seasonal employment). Under WorkFirst, seasonal workers qualify for full-time education and training during the off season.

(e) You are enrolled in the Pregnancy to Employment pathway and your comprehensive evaluation shows basic education would help you find and keep employment. (See WAC 388-310-1450.)

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-15-067, 388-310-0900, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 01-15-009, 388-310-0900, filed 7/6/01, effective 8/6/01; 99-10-027, 388-310-0900, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 97-20-129, 388-310-0900, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]


AMENDATORY SECTION(Amending WSR 02-15-067, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02)

WAC 388-310-1000   WorkFirst--Vocational education.   (1) What is vocational education?

Vocational education is training that leads to a degree or certificate in a specific occupation and is offered by an accredited:

(a) Public and private technical college or school;

(b) Community college; or

(c) Tribal college.

(2) When can vocational education be included in my individual responsibility plan?

We may add vocational education to your individual responsibility plan for up to twelve months if:

(a) ((You are working twenty or more hours a week in paid unsubsidized work; or

(b) You are working sixteen or more hours per week in a federal or state work-study position; or

(c) You are working in a subsidized job, like a community jobs position, at least twenty hours per week)) Your comprehensive evaluation shows you need this education to become employed or get a better job and you participate full time in vocational education or by combining vocational education with any approved WorkFirst work activity; or

(((d))) (b) Employment security department (ESD) has determined that you are a seasonal worker (that is, your usual pattern of employment is based on a recurring cycle of seasonal employment). Under WorkFirst, seasonal workers qualify for full-time education and training during the off season; or

(((e))) (c) You are in an internship or practicum for up to twelve months that is paid or unpaid and required to complete a course of vocational training or to obtain a license or certificate in a high demand field, as determined by the employment security department; or

(((f))) (d) You have limited English proficiency and you lack job skills that are in demand for entry level jobs in your area; and the vocational education program is the only way that you can acquire the job skills you need to qualify for entry level jobs in your area (because there is no available work experience, preemployment training or on-the-job training that can teach you these skills)((.)); or

(e) You are in the Pregnancy to Employment pathway and your comprehensive evaluation shows vocational education would help you find and keep employment. (See WAC 388-310-1450.)

(3) Can I get help with paying the costs of vocational education?

WorkFirst may pay for the costs of your vocational education, such as tuition or books, for up to twelve months, if vocational education is in your individual responsibility plan and there is no other way to pay them. You may also get help with paying your child care costs through the working connections child care program. (See chapter 388-290 WAC for the working connections child care program rules.)

[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-15-067, 388-310-1000, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 01-15-009, 388-310-1000, filed 7/6/01, effective 8/6/01; 99-10-027, 388-310-1000, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 98-23-037, 388-310-1000, filed 11/10/98, effective 12/11/98; 97-20-129, 388-310-1000, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]