SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVICES
(Economic Services Administration)
Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 05-22-099.
Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: WAC 388-310-1600 WorkFirst--Sanctions.
Hearing Location(s): Blake Office Park East, Rose Room, 4500 10th Avenue S.E., Lacey, WA 98503 (one block north of the intersection of Pacific Avenue S.E. and Alhadeff Lane. A map or directions are available at http://www1.dshs.wa.gov/msa/rpau/docket.html or by calling (360) 664-6097), on April 10, 2007, at 10:00 a.m.
Date of Intended Adoption: Not earlier than April 11, 2007.
Submit Written Comments to: DSHS Rules Coordinator, P.O. Box 45850, Olympia, WA 98504, delivery 4500 10th Avenue S.E., Lacey, WA 98503, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, fax (360) 664-6185, by 5:00 p.m. on April 10, 2007.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Stephanie Schiller, DSHS Rules Consultant, by April 6, 2007, TTY (360) 664-6178 or (360) 664-6097 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: The rule is being amended to prevent the closure of TANF cases where the only person in sanction is a dependent teen. This change will allow the family to continue to receive benefits while working to get the teen back in school.
Reasons Supporting Proposal: Without this change, the actions of a dependent teen could result in the loss of cash assistance for the entire family, including the responsible adults and other dependent children in the home. There are several families in imminent danger of having their cash assistance terminated due to the actions of older siblings under the current rule. Further, once cash assistance was terminated, the family would not be able to reinstate cash benefits until the dependent teen participated as required for four weeks in a row. This change will prevent family breakup, giving children inappropriate control over family income and prevent undue hardship for low-income parents and children in Washington state.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.500, 74.04.510, 74.08.090.
Statute Being Implemented: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.500, 74.04.510, 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 and Implementation: Ian Horlor, P.O. Box 45470, Olympia, WA 98504-5470, (360) 725-4634; and Enforcement: Nick Espinosa, P.O. Box 45470, Olympia, WA 98504-5470, (360) 725-4620.
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."
March 2, 2007
Jim Schnellman, Chief
Office of Administrative Resources3827.2
You must do the following when you are a mandatory WorkFirst participant:
(a) Give the department the information we need to develop your individual responsibility plan (IRP) (see WAC 388-310-0500);
(b) Show that you are participating fully to meet all of the requirements listed on your individual responsibility plan;
(c) Go to scheduled appointments listed in your individual responsibility plan;
(d) Follow the participation and attendance rules of the people who provide your assigned WorkFirst services or activities; and
(e) Accept available paid employment when it meets the criteria in WAC 388-310-1500.
(2) What happens if I don't meet WorkFirst requirements?
(a) If you do not meet WorkFirst requirements, we will send you a letter telling you what you did not do.
(b) You will have ten days to contact us so we can talk with you about the situation. You can contact us in writing, by phone, by going to the appointment described in the letter, or by asking for an individual appointment.
(c) If you do not contact us within ten days, we will make sure you have been screened for family violence and other barriers to participation. We will use existing information to decide whether:
(i) You were unable to do what was required; or
(ii) You were able, but refused, to do what was required.
(d) If you had a good reason not to do a required activity we will work with you and may change the requirements in your individual responsibility plan if a different WorkFirst activity would help you move towards independence and employment sooner. If you have been unable to meet your WorkFirst requirements because of family violence, you and your case manager will develop an IRP to help you with your situation, including referrals to appropriate services.
(e) Before you are placed in sanction:
(i) We will have a case staffing which is a meeting with you, your case manager and other people involved in your case to review your situation and make plans. At your case staffing, we will ensure you were offered the opportunity to participate, discuss what happens if you stay in sanction, discuss how participation helps you and your family and discuss how to end your sanction. You will be notified when your case staffing is going to happen so you can attend. You can invite anyone you want to come with you to your case staffing.
(ii) Effective September 1, 2006, supervisory staff will review your case and must approve the sanction.
(f) If you are sanctioned, we will actively attempt to contact you another way so we can talk to you about the benefits of participation and how to end your sanction.
(3) What is considered a good reason for not being able to do what WorkFirst requires?
You have a good reason if it was not possible to do what WorkFirst requires (or get an excused absence, described in WAC 388-310-0500(5)) due to a significant problem or event outside your control. Some examples of good reasons include, but are not limited to:
(a) You had an emergent or severe physical, mental or emotional condition, confirmed by a licensed health care professional that interfered with your ability to participate;
(b) You were threatened with or subjected to family violence;
(c) You could not locate child care for your children under thirteen years that was:
(i) Affordable (did not cost you more than your co-payment would under the working connections child care program in chapter 388-290 WAC);
(ii) Appropriate (licensed, certified or approved under federal, state or tribal law and regulations for the type of care you use and you were able to choose, within locally available options, who would provide it); and
(iii) Within a reasonable distance (within reach without traveling farther than is normally expected in your community).
(iv) You could not locate other care services for an incapacitated person who lives with you and your children.
(d) You had an immediate legal problem, such as an eviction notice; or
(e) You are a person who gets necessary supplemental accommodation (NSA) services under chapter 388-472 WAC and your limitation kept you from participating. If you have a good reason because you need NSA services, we will review your accommodation plan.
(4) What if we decide that you did not have a good reason for failing to meet WorkFirst requirements?
If we decide that you did not have a good reason for failing to meet WorkFirst requirements, we will send you a letter that tells you:
(a) What you failed to do;
(b) That you are in sanction status;
(c) Penalties that will be applied to your grant;
(d) When the penalties will be applied;
(e) How to request a fair hearing if you disagree with this decision; and
(f) How to end the penalties and get out of sanction status.
(5) What is sanction status?
When you are a mandatory WorkFirst participant, you must follow WorkFirst requirements to qualify for your full grant. If you or someone else on your grant doesn't comply and you can't prove that you had a good reason, you do not qualify for your full grant. This is called being in WorkFirst sanction status.
(6) Are there penalties when you or someone in ((
your household goes into sanction status?
(a) When someone in your household is in sanction status, we impose penalties. The penalties last until you or the household member meet WorkFirst requirements.
(b) Your grant is reduced by the person(s) share or forty percent, whichever is more.
(7) How do I end the penalties and get out of sanction status?
To stop the penalties and get out of sanction status:
(a) You must provide the information we requested to develop your individual responsibility plan; and/or
(b) Start and continue to do your required WorkFirst activities for four weeks in a row (that is, twenty-eight calendar days).
(c) When you leave sanction status, your grant will be restored to the level for which you are eligible beginning the first of the month following your four weeks of participation. For example, if you finished your four weeks of participation on June 15, your grant would be restored on July 1.
(8) What if I reapply for TANF or SFA and I was in sanction status when my case closed?
(a) If your case closes while you are in sanction status and is reopened in six months or less, you will start out in sanction.
(b) Effective September 1, 2006, if you come back in sanction, you will start out where you left off in sanction. (That is, if you left off in month three of sanction, you will come back on in month four of sanction.)
(c) If your case has been closed for more than six months, you will not be in sanction status if your case is reopened.
(9) What happens effective September 1, 2006 if I stay in sanction status? Effective September 1, 2006, if you stay in sanction status:
(a) Unless you are a dependent child age sixteen or older, your case manager will review your record after you have been in sanction for at least three months in a row to make sure:
(i) You knew what was required;
(ii) You were told how to end your sanction;
(iii) We tried to talk to you and to encourage you to participate; and
(iv) You were given a chance to tell us if you were unable to do what we required.
(b) Your case manager will invite you to a non-compliance sanction case staffing.
(i) You will be notified when your non-compliance sanction case staffing is going to happen so you can attend.
(ii) Your case manager will also invite other people who are working with your family to your non-compliance sanction case staffing, like representatives from tribes, community or technical colleges, employment security, the Children's Administration or Limited-English Proficient (LEP) Pathway providers.
(iii) You can invite anyone you want to come with you to your case staffing.
(c) At your non-compliance sanction case staffing, we will discuss with you:
(i) How you and your family benefit when you participate in WorkFirst activities;
(ii) How you can participate, and get out of sanction;
(iii) That if you continue to refuse to participate, without good cause, a sanction review panel may review your case, and decide to close your case after you have been in sanction status for six months in a row.
(iv) How you plan to care for and support your children if a sanction review panel closes your case. We will also discuss the safety of your family, as needed, using the guidelines under RCW 26.44.030; and
(v) How to reapply if a sanction review panel closes your case.
(d) If you do not come to your non-compliance sanction case staffing, we will make a decision based on the information we have. We will also attempt to visit you at your home so you have another chance to talk to us about the benefits of participation and how to end your sanction.
(e) If we decide you are refusing to participate without a good reason:
(i) We will send you information about resources you may need if a sanction review panel closes your case;
(ii) We will send information to a sanction review panel with a recommendation to close your case. We will only do this after a Community Services Office Administrator reviews your case to make sure the sanction is appropriate and we tried to re-engage you in the program; and
(iii) The sanction review panel will review your case and make the final decision.
(10) What is a sanction review panel?
(a) The sanction review panel is a small group of people who are independent of your local community services office and do a thorough, objective review of your sanction.
(b) The sanction review panel makes the final decision about whether to close your case after receiving a recommendation from your case manager and reviewing your case to make sure the original sanction was appropriate and we made attempts to re-engage you in the program.
(11) What happens when a sanction review panel decides to close my case?
When a sanction review panel decides to close your case, we will send you a letter to tell you:
(a) What you failed to do;
(b) When your case will be closed;
(c) How to request a fair hearing if you disagree with this decision;
(d) How to end your penalties and keep your case open (if you are able to participate for four weeks in a row before we close your case); and
(e) How your participation before your case is closed can be used to meet the participation requirement in subsection (12).
(12) What if I reapply for TANF or SFA after a sanction review panel closed my case?
(a) If a sanction review panel closes your WorkFirst cash assistance (TANF) case and you apply within six months, you must participate for four weeks in a row before you can receive cash. Once you have met your four week participation requirement, your cash benefits will start, going back to the date we had all the other information we needed to make an eligibility decision.
(b) You will not be required to participate for four weeks in a row before you receive cash if you apply after your case has been closed for six months or longer.
(13) What if my TANF or SFA is closed by a sanction review panel, reopened and I go into sanction again?
(a) When a sanction review panel closes your case, and we reopen your case, we will follow all steps in subsection (9) of this section (like the case review and the non-compliance case staffing) during your second month of sanction.
(b) The sanction review panel may close your case after you are in sanction status for three months in a row.
(c) If you case is closed, and you reapply, we will follow the rules in subsection (12) of this section to reopen your case.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 74.04.050, 74.04.055, 74.04.057, 74.08.090, 74.08A.260, chapter 74.08A RCW. 06-10-035, § 388-310-1600, filed 4/27/06, effective 6/1/06. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090, 74.04.050, and 74.08A.340. 04-07-025, § 388-310-1600, filed 3/8/04, effective 5/1/04. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08A.010(4), 74.08A.340, 74.08.090, 74.04.050. 02-15-067, § 388-310-1600, filed 7/11/02, effective 8/1/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 74.08.090 and 74.04.050. 99-10-027, § 388-310-1600, filed 4/28/99, effective 5/29/99; 98-23-037, § 388-310-1600, filed 11/10/98, effective 12/11/98; 97-20-129, § 388-310-1600, filed 10/1/97, effective 11/1/97.]
Reviser's note: The typographical error in the above section occurred in the copy filed by the agency and appears in the Register pursuant to the requirements of RCW 34.08.040.