BILL REQ. #:  S-1570.1 


State of Washington61st Legislature2009 Regular Session

By Senate Human Services & Corrections (originally sponsored by Senators Regala, Hargrove, and Kohl-Welles)

READ FIRST TIME 02/12/09.   

     AN ACT Relating to exemptions from the WorkFirst program; amending RCW 74.08A.270; and creating a new section.


NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1   The legislature recognizes the unique challenges faced by children born into poverty and the extreme importance of early brain development on the child's future and the role that bonding with an individual caregiver plays in early childhood learning. The legislature also recognizes the importance of chemical dependency treatment for people who need it and that parents faced with barriers to employment based on alcohol and drug abuse must be encouraged to address those issues as early in their child's life as possible.

Sec. 2   RCW 74.08A.270 and 2007 c 289 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
     (1) Good cause reasons for failure to participate in WorkFirst program components include: (a) Situations where the recipient is a parent or other relative personally providing care for a child under the age of six years, and formal or informal child care, or day care for an incapacitated individual living in the same home as a dependent child, is necessary for an individual to participate or continue participation in the program or accept employment, and such care is not available, and the department fails to provide such care; or (b) the recipient is a parent with a child under the age of one year.
     (2) A parent claiming a good cause exemption from WorkFirst participation under subsection (1)(b) of this section ((may)) shall not be required to participate in any activities during the first ninety days following the birth of the child. Thereafter, a parent whose preexisting comprehensive evaluation or other assessment indicates a need for mental health, alcohol, or drug treatment; domestic violence services; or parenting education or skills training must be notified of the availability of these services and encouraged to participate in one or more of the ((following)) services, up to a maximum total of twenty hours per week((, if such treatment, services, or training is indicated by the comprehensive evaluation or other assessment:
     (a) Mental health treatment;
     (b) Alcohol or drug treatment;
     (c) Domestic violence services; or
     (d) Parenting education or parenting skills training, if available
)). Parents in need of alcohol or drug treatment may be required to obtain such treatment. The department shall identify treatment providers who are available, and assure that safe child care and transportation is available to the parent.
     (3) No family with an infant twelve months of age or younger may have their grant reduced due to sanction.
The department shall: (a) Work with a parent claiming a good cause exemption under subsection (1)(b) of this section to identify and access programs and services designed to improve parenting skills and promote child well-being, including but not limited to home visitation programs and services; and (b) provide information on the availability of home visitation services to temporary assistance for needy families caseworkers, who shall inform clients of the availability of the services. If desired by the client, the caseworker shall facilitate appropriate referrals to providers of home visitation services.
     (((4))) (5) Nothing in this section shall prevent a recipient from participating in the WorkFirst program on a voluntary basis.
     (((5))) (6) A parent is eligible for a good cause exemption under subsection (1)(b) of this section for a maximum total of twelve months over the parent's lifetime.

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