The Provider will provide the program(s) specified in Exhibit D and Exhibit B in accordance with the following provisions. Exceptions to these provisions must have the written approval of the Department.

A. Referral Process

  1. The Department will refer individuals to the Provider using the Referral Form (Form 2151 or Form 2151C) and/or an Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record (Form 2606D). See Downstate Forms packet for Downstate Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record.
  2. Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention, Special Project and Support Service Providers recruit eligible participants and may also receive referrals from the Family Community Resource Center (FCRC). These Providers must develop a reverse referral procedure.
  3. Within 48 hours of the Provider's intake appointment, the Provider will notify the referring office via the Referral Form (Form 2151) if the individual was accepted into the program or failed the appointment.
  4. The Provider will verify participants' eligibility and SNAP benefit amount through access to the Department's client information system MOBIUS which is made available online to the Provider. If the Provider does not currently have access to the monthly report of eligible participants, they should contact their Provider Manager and request online access to Report #50490941, NAFS (Category 08) Active SNAP Cases in Chicago, or Report #50491171, Non-Assistance SNAP (Category 08) Active ABAWD SNAP Cases, for areas outside of Chicago.

B. Intake/Assessment/Employability Plan

  1. Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention, and Special Project Providers must conduct an orientation whenever an individual enters or re-enters the program. Orientations may be conducted individually or in groups. The Provider must issue the pamphlet (Form 4538) to all program participants. The pamphlet describes SNAP E&T requirements and policies and serves as an orientation to the program. The Provider must document in participants case files that Form 4538 was issued.
  2. Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention, and Special Project Providers must conduct an assessment interview and develop an employability plan with each participant whenever the participant enters or re-enters the program after a break of one or more months. At the assessment interview, Providers will complete Family Assessment Employment, Education & Training (Form 4001A). Providers must also complete Employability Plan (Form 2839) with each participant. The Plan must contain:
    1. the specific employment goal
    2. the SNAP E&T activity assignment
    3. the supportive services needed to help the individual take part in the activity and obtain the employment goal; an
    4. a statement that the supportive services have been provided or otherwise arranged, including an explanation of the specific arrangements and services provided.
    5. Providers must give a copy of the Employability Plan (Form 2839) to the participant and maintain a copy in the participant's case file.
  3. Job Placement with Retention Providers must conduct an assessment that includes:
    1. testing for reading and math levels and Learning Deficit Screening, when appropriate, and a determination of need for referral to ESL classes; test scores, in grade level equivalent for each customer, must be forwarded to the appropriate FCRC within ten business days of testing; and
    2. a guided introduction to the local Illinois WorkNet Center/Illinois Department of Employment Security Office which must include topics on independent job search, registration with Illinois Job Link (IJL) and instruction on utilizing the resource lab; assignment.  See link http://www.ides.illinois.gov/page.aspx?item=50.

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C. General Program Activities

  1. Cook County and Downstate Earnfare and NCP Earnfare Providers are to engage participants in activities identified by the Providers. Participants work off the value of their SNAP tamp benefit divided by the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, and then may complete additional hours, to earn up to $294 per month (up to $244 for NCP Earnfare participants).
  2. Job Placement with Retention Providers are to assign and engage participants for 80 hours per month in one or more activities listed in Appendix E. Providers may assign participants to activities at a 1) Work Experience, 2) Basic Education or 3) Vocational Training. The descriptions of Work Experience, Basic Education and Vocational Training activities are as follows:
    1. Work Experience-subsidized placement with for-profit, not-for-profit, and governmental employers, contracted directly by the Department or through contractual agreements, to provide participants with work skills and experience;
    2. Basic Education - may be required of participants who are in need of further education as part of their employability plan. Basic Education includes English as a Second Language (ESL); Adult Basic Education (ABE); General Educational Development (GED); High School Diploma and Literacy educational programs
    3. Vocational Training - short-term program or activities designed to improve the employability of a participant. It includes short-term technical training, vocational training, and certificate programs that prepare a student for employment in a specific occupation
  3. Job Placement with Retention Providers must engage participants for 80 hours per month in one or a combination of activities for which they do not receive cash assistance. Approved activities include Basic Education, Vocational Training, and/or Work Experience. For example, a participant may be in Vocational Training for 40 hours, Basic Education for 20 hours and Work Experience for 20 hours, for a total of 80 hours per month. Basic Education and Vocational Training are described above. 

    Work Experience is a program designed to provide individuals with practical "on the job" experience. Work assignments must be at public or private not-for-profit organizations. Participants work the number of hours needed to work off the value of their SNAP benefit divided by the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, not to exceed 20 hours per month. Individuals can participate in Work Experience for up to three (3) months. An additional three (3) months can be provided if determined beneficial to the participant's employability. Work Experience assignments are further described in Section V.K.1.

  4. Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers are to engage participants in activities which enhance their employability and lead to their transition to self-sufficiency.
  5. Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers may engage participants in Job Search and Job Readiness activities within their program designs. These activities can be required in addition to other activities when helpful to the participant's overall employability.
    1. Job Search - requires the participant, with staff assistance, to actively contact employers and seek employment. The participant must attend all scheduled meetings and must make a good faith effort to complete 20 employer contacts per month. Employer contacts must be documented in writing. Participants in Job Search must be referred to register with the Department of Employment Security. A participant may only be assigned to Job Search for 8 weeks in a 12 consecutive month period as part of another countable activity.
    2. Job Readiness - may include training in preparation for work including following and accepting supervision, time management issues, appropriate workplace behavior, job seeking skills, learning to budget, establishing bank accounts, etc. A maximum of 8 employer contacts per month may be required. Participation in Job Readiness is for a minimum of 2 sessions per month for 2-4 hours per session. Participants may only be assigned to Job Readiness as part of another activity.

      Participant activity in Job Search and Job Readiness should be closely monitored.

  6. Downstate Earnfare Providers may engage participants in Job Search activities within their program design. This activity can be required in addition to other activities. However, Job Search activities do not count toward the participant's monthly required participation hours. Earnfare participants do not earn cash assistance while in Job Search. A participant may only be assigned to Job Search for 8 weeks in a 12 consecutive month period as part of another countable activity.

D. Counseling/Prevention Services

  1. If a participant's situation requires, Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers may refer or assign individuals to relevant counseling/prevention services. These services may be provided by the contractor if they are licensed through the appropriate entity. These services must be paid for from the contractor's earned administrative rate or provided free by another licensed provider. The services provided cannot include treatment.
  2. Providers may assign participants to 2 to 4 hours per week of counseling/prevention services as part of an approved SNAP E&T activity.
  3. Providers must ensure that participants in counseling/prevention services are also engaged in approved program activities.
  4. The hours for these counseling/prevention services are countable within the approved SNAP E&T activity to which the participant has been assigned.
  5. Participants in counseling/prevention services may earn cash assistance for participation in these services if they are concurrently participating in Earnfare activities (Basic Education, Vocational Training, and/or Earnfare work assignment) through a Job Placement with Retention provider.
  6. Providers must coordinate counseling/prevention services and information exchange between the participant's Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) and all other service providers.
  7. Providers must give the individual an option as to what counseling/prevention program they are to be referred.
  8. Providers must retain attendance information on a monthly basis in the case file for each individual participating in counseling/prevention services. To ensure confidentiality, the Provider will obtain two releases of information from each individual in counseling/prevention services, allowing the counseling provider to share participant information with the Provider and allowing the Provider to share participant information with the Department.

E. Participation Hours

  1. Participants in the Job Placement with Retention and Special Project programs are to participate in one or a combination of SNAP E&T approved work and training activities as described in Appendix E in order to secure 80 hours per month of participation Job Placement with Retention.
  2. Cook County Earnfare and NCP Earnfare Providers will ensure that participants work no more than the maximum hours per month as determined by the Department and/or the NCP Services Unit and indicated on the Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record.
  3. Downstate Earnfare Providers must determine the number of hours that each individual must participate in Earnfare as follows: the amount of the individual's SNAP benefits (per person share) is divided by the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, to determine the number of participation hours required to work off the value of the SNAP benefits. After the value of the SNAP benefits is worked off, individuals will participate in the Earnfare activity, working additional hours in order to earn cash assistance up to $294.00 per month. The Provider will record this information on the Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record issued to the participant. Refer to the Monthly SNAP Conversion Chart included in the Forms Packet for assistance in determining SNAP work off hours.

F. Case Management

Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers will provide each individual with intensive case management which includes, but is not limited to, monthly follow-up to monitor progress in the activities based on each participant's needs and unique situation. Providers will document case management activities in participants' case files. In addition, Providers will ensure they:

  1. Network and advocate on behalf of the customers served with community based organizations, community colleges and other resources to leverage services required by customers at no cost;
  2. Identify and report to your DHS Provider Manager, the employment/industry growth sector(s) in the community on an ongoing basis you are working with and developing jobs in. The focus on jobs should be long term as opposed to temporary employment;
  3. Refer customers served to pre-identified, short-term vocational training certificate programs or other training in the employment/industry growth sectors as appropriate;
  4. Customers referred to pre-identified training programs in the employment/industry growth sectors will achieve a certificate of completion;
  5. Enrollment and on-going engagement in ABE, GED or ESL classes for those customers identified in need of and appropriate for participation in ABE, GED or ESL classes; and
  6. Customers referred to ABE, GED or ESL classes will achieve grade level gains based on pre/post testing or obtain their GED certificate.

G. Reporting Information

  1. Providers will ensure that monthly reports are accurate, complete, timely, and fully supported through case file documentation.
  2. Providers will report information concerning participants as follows:

    Cook County Earnfare Providers will:

    • return the Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record (Form 2606D) to the Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) within 48 hours when the participant fails to report to the assignment as scheduled. The Provider will indicate "DNR" across the form before returning it to the FCRC; and
    • telephone the FCRC Earnfare Liaison within 48 hours to report those instances when a participant fails to complete his/her assignment, obtains or refuses employment, or other circumstances which may affect participation.

    Special Project Providers will:

    • forward a signed Referral Form (Form 2151) within 48 hours of the individual's intake appointment, to notify the FCRC if the individual failed the appointment or was accepted into the program; and
    • send a Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) notifying the FCRC within 48 hours when a participant obtains employment, fails to cooperate with program requirements, refuses an offer of employment, or increases hours of employment or rate of pay.

     Downstate Earnfare Providers will:

    • forward a signed Referral Form (Form 2151) within 48 hours of the individual's intake appointment, to notify the FCRC if the individual failed the appointment or was accepted into the program; and
    • submit a Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) to the FCRC for each participant each month that details the progress made by the individual; and
    • forward a Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) to notify the FCRC within 48 hours when a participant obtains employment, fails to cooperate with program requirements, refuses an offer of employment, or increases hours of employment or rate of pay.

    Job Placement with Retention Providers will:

    • forward a signed Referral Form (Form 2151) within 48 hours of the individual's intake appointment, to notify the FCRC if the individual failed the appointment or was accepted into the program; and
    • submit a Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) to the FCRC for each participant each month that details the progress made by the individual; and
    • submit a Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) notifying the FCRC within 48 hours when a participant obtains employment or increases hours of employment or rate of pay; and
    • forward a Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) to the FCRC in cases of non-cooperation after conciliation has been unsuccessful.
    • submit a Monthly Activities & Outcomes Summary to their Provider Manager by the 10th day of the month following the month of service using the reporting format provided.

    NCP Earnfare Providers will forward the NCP Earnfare Referral and Attendance Report to the NCP Services Unit (NCPSU) or telephone NCPSU to provide:

    • initial attendance information; and
    • monthly attendance information; and
    • information when a participant obtains employment, fails to cooperate with program requirements, or refuses an offer of employment.

    NCPSU will forward information received from the Providers to the FCRC.

  3. Cook County and Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention Providers who offer Earnfare and/or Work Experience as an activity and NCP Earnfare Providers must complete the appropriate Workers Compensation forms when a participant is injured while on assignment. The forms listed must be completed within the specified time frame and submitted to the Illinois Department of Central Management Services' Division of Risk Management.
  • IL 401-0012  WC EE Notice of Injury
  • IL 401-0368  WC Supervisor Report of Injury
  • IL 401-0370  WC Witness Report
  • IL 401-0994  Initial WC Medical Report and Letter
  • IL 444-4211  Extended Benefits Request
  • Medical Authorization Forms  IL 3-2013
  • Wage Statement
  • Medical bills or other pertinent information
  • These forms are available at the on-line link below: www2.illinois.gov/cms/employees/benefits/rm/pages/workerscompensation.aspx

H. Conciliation (Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers when indicated in their approved request for funding)

  1. Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers, when indicated in their approved funding request, will initiate the conciliation process for all participants who, without good cause, do not:
    1. accept a bona fide offer of employment; or
    2. cooperate with the assigned countable activity; or
    3. complete all assigned activities listed on FSE&T Employability Plan (Form 2839) to meet federal participation requirements.

      See Appendix D for the conciliation process.

      NOTE: A participant who fails to report to/complete/cooperate with the Earnfare work assignment where he has the opportunity to earn up to $294 per month is not subject to a sanction and should not be included in the conciliation process. If the Provider cannot re-engage the participant, refer the individual back to the FCRC via the Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) with an explanation of the circumstances. 

  2. If conciliation efforts are unsuccessful, the Provider must:
    1. follow Department conciliation policy and request a sanction from the FCRC via the Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A); and
    2. notify the FCRC within 30 days of the date that the Provider learned of the instance of non-cooperation.
  3. Prior to requesting a sanction, the Provider will work with the individual in an effort to re-engage him in the program.
  4. If the individual who failed to cooperate has good cause, the Provider will document all good cause reasons on the Change Progress Report Form (Form 2151A) to explain why the participant was not referred back to the FCRC for non-cooperation.

I. Job Placement with Retention

  1. Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers will place participants in unsubsidized employment and receive administrative payments. In order to count as an unsubsidized placement and to qualify for administrative payment, the placement must meet the requirements for starting wages, number of hours per week and retention periods as outlined in Exhibit B.  Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers will provide job retention services which include but are not limited to:
    1. training participants on job retention issues;
    2. follow up with the participant to address retention issues after employment;
    3. job coaching and counseling; follow up with the participant's employer to address issues and problems on the job; and
    4. development of a written Career Pathway plan directly related to the employment obtained, which identifies no fewer than the next two progressive jobs within the area employed and the necessary steps to advance, i.e., work experience, skill sets, training and education.
  2. Job retention services will incorporate weekly contacts with the customer and/or employer in the first 30 days of employment and semi-monthly contacts in days 31-90 of employment. The provision of job retention services and contacts must be documented in participants' case files.

J. Case Records

  1. Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention, and Special Project Providers must maintain case records on each participant to document services and activities provided and supportive services issued. Participant activity for the appropriate number of hours per month must be documented in the case record. The case record must contain copies of all relevant documentation on participants including referrals, the Employability Plan, detailed documentation of completed job contacts, supportive services issued, case notes and dated attendance sheets containing the participant's and supervisor's signature and time of sign in/sign out.
  2. Cook County and Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention, Special Project, and NCP Earnfare Providers must maintain copies of all attendance forms and payment records, i.e., canceled checks or copies of money orders, for five (5) years and these records must be accessible for review by Department/Department designated monitors.
  3. Cook County and Downstate Earnfare, Job Placement with Retention, Special Project, and NCP Earnfare Providers must ensure that all records and other information regarding participants, which are confidential, shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure. The Provider shall take due diligence to ensure the confidentiality of participants at assigned work sites.

K. Earnfare Employers, Work Experience Sponsors and Assignments

  1. Job Placement with Retention Providers and Downstate Earnfare Providers who offer Earnfare and/or Work Experience as an activity must:
    1. recruit able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) who receive non-assistance SNAP benefits;
    2. accept referrals from FCRCs for ABAWDs who receive non-assistance SNAP benefits;
    3. all agreements must be renewed at the beginning of each contract year;
    4. recruit employers and obtain subsidized Earnfare positions for participants. Work Experience positions must be with public or private not-for-profit sponsor organizations that will consider/hire customers in unsubsidized employment and retain them for a minimum of 30 consecutive days;
    5. maintain a non-financial agreement with each subsidized employer/sponsor, including the number of monthly subsidized positions and a description of each position title. The Provider will use a standardized non-financial Earnfare Employer or Work First/Work Experience Agreement form, provided by the Department. The Provider will give a signed copy of the Agreement to the employer/sponsor who must retain a copy of the Agreement at the work site;
    6. visit all Earnfare employers and/or Work Experience sponsors in person prior to entering into an Agreement. A quarterly contact must be made, either in person or by phone, and documented in writing to ensure that employers/sponsors continue to meet all requirements of the Earnfare program and/or Work Experience component as detailed herein. The Provider will make these reports available to the Provider Manager and Monitoring staff upon request; and
    7. provide a complete listing of Earnfare employers and/or Work Experience sponsors to the Provider Manager upon execution of the Agreement. The listing must include employer/sponsor name, address of all work locations, phone number, contact person and number of positions by type. The Provider will update the listing as necessary and ensure that update listings are sent to the Provider Manager within the calendar month of the change.
  2. Cook County Earnfare, Downstate Earnfare, and NCP Earnfare Providers must ensure that:
    1. participants are adequately supervised at work sites and training facilities and that the physical environment is appropriate and meets all applicable standards set by State and Federal laws, rules and regulations;
    2. Earnfare participants do not work more than 40 hours per week, eight (8) hours per day, unless the Provider's standard work shift exceeds eight (8) hours per day. All Earnfare participants are limited to 40 hours of work per week;
    3. all Earnfare assignments begin and end on the hour or half hour each day and are completed within the calendar month; and
    4. Earnfare participants will participate for cash assistance no more than six (6) months in any fiscal year (consecutive 12 month period from July through June) as indicated in the Provider's Agreement
  3. Cook County Earnfare, Downstate Earnfare, and NCP Earnfare Providers must ensure that Earnfare participants' monthly attendance is reported on the Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record which is to be mailed, faxed or delivered to them. Earnfare participants are expressly prohibited from delivering or maintaining their own attendance records.
  4. Cook County Earnfare, Downstate Earnfare, and NCP Earnfare Providers will not enter into agreements with other employers who accept referrals of Earnfare participants from other Providers unless written exception is submitted to the Department and approved in writing.
  5. Cook County Earnfare, Downstate Earnfare, and NCP Earnfare Providers  will ensure that Earnfare participants do not displace persons who are already employed as regular full-time or part-time employees of the Provider/Earnfare employer, or are involved in a labor dispute between a labor organization and the Provider/Earnfare employer, or have been temporarily laid off by the Provider/Earnfare employer.
  6. Cook County Earnfare, Downstate Earnfare, and NCP Earnfare Providers agree to provide a written reference, if requested, to an Earnfare participant upon their satisfactory performance on the Earnfare assignment.
  7. Job Placement with Retention Providers must ensure that:
    1. participants are adequately supervised at work sites and training facilities, and that the physical environment is appropriate and meets all applicable standards set by State and Federal laws, rules and regulations;
    2. participants should be engaged in a total of 80 hours per month in appropriate designated activities, with activity hours assigned to work experience; cannot exceed 20 hours per month;
    3. all work experience assignments begin and end on the hour or half hour each day and are completed within the calendar month;
    4. participants' monthly attendance is reported on the Attendance Record which is to be mailed, faxed or delivered to them: participants are expressly prohibited from delivering or maintaining their own attendance records;
    5. provider will not enter into agreements with other work experience sponsors or accept referrals of other job placement retention providers unless written exception is submitted to the Department and approved in writing;
    6. participants do not displace persons who are already employed as regular full-time or part-time employees of the sponsor/employer, or are involved in a labor dispute between a labor organization and the sponsor/employer, or have been temporarily laid off by the sponsor/empoyer; and
    7. provider agree to provide a written reference, if requested, to participant upon their satisfactory performance on the assignment. 

L. Earnfare Payments

  1. Cook County and Downstate Earnfare Providers will determine the cash assistance payments issued to the Earnfare participants as follows: the amount of the individual's SNAP benefits (per person share) is divided by the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, to determine the number of participation hours required to work off the value of the SNAP benefits. These participation hours are the first hours to be completed by each individual and will not generate cash assistance payments. After the value of the SNAP benefits is worked off, participants will be assigned to additional hours, for which the Providers will pay the Earnfare participant the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to $294.00 per month.
  2. NCP Earnfare Providers will determine the cash assistance payments issued to the NCP Earnfare participants as follows. The first hours worked by each participant will count toward the individual's $50 court ordered child support obligation divided by the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. The $50 will be forwarded by DHS staff to the Department of Health and Family Services which forwards the payment to the custodial parent.
    1. For participants not receiving SNAP benefits, after the $50 child support obligation has been satisfied, participants will work additional hours per month for which the Providers will pay the NCP Earnfare participant at the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to a maximum of $244.00 per month.
  3. If the Earnfare employer has a paid lunch period for its regular employees, then the Earnfare participant's lunch period time is counted toward the total hours worked. If the Earnfare employer does not have a paid lunch period for its regular employees, then the lunch period for Earnfare participants does not count toward their total hours.
  4. With the exception of the paid lunch period, Cook County Earnfare, Downstate Earnfare, and NCP Earnfare Providers will authorize payment to participants only for actual time worked or in attendance in Basic Education or Vocational Training. Participants may not be paid for time off including, but not limited to, holidays and bad weather days, even if regular employees are paid for such days.
  5. No cash assistance payments will be made for any additional hours completed beyond the number of assigned hours specified on the Earnfare Referral and Attendance Record.
  6. No deductions will be withheld from cash assistance payments including, but not limited to, union dues, Federal, State or local taxes, FICA, or other child support obligation.
  7. Cook County and Downstate Earnfare and NCP Earnfare Providers will pay Earnfare participants for hours worked beyond the value of the SNAP benefits (and child support obligation for NCP Earnfare participants) as soon as possible but within fourteen (14) days of the completion of the monthly Earnfare assignment. Payments will be made to participants by check or money order to provide supporting documents that will verify cash assistance payments. Providers will not issue payments in cash.

M. Staffing Protocol (Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers only)

The Provider will participate in staffings with the Department to review and discuss the status of customers assigned to the Provider using the established staffing protocols (see Appendix C) and forms.

N. Mediation (Job Placement with Retention and Special Project Providers only)

  1. The Provider Manager and the Regional Employment and Training Liaison will act as mediators when the FCRC Administrator and the Job Placement with Retention or Special Project Provider are unable to resolve issues in a timely manner.
  2. The Provider will notify the Provider Manager within two (2) workdays if: the FCRC fails to adhere to the monthly staffing meeting schedule; there is an unresolved dispute about the participant's plan or how the participant is handled; and/or any issue that the Provider identifies which will affect the terms of the Agreement.
  3. The Provider Manager will arrange a meeting with the Regional Employment and Training Liaison within 10 calendar days to resolve the specified issue.

O. Fiscal

  1. At the end of the Agreement, the Department will issue a Close Out and Cost Reconciliation Report to determine the relationship between total funds disbursed by the Department and actual funds earned and expended by the Provider. The Department will include costs appropriately earned and/or expended for approved budget line items and supportive services payments issued to participants. The Provider must reconcile the information contained in the report and certify its correctness. The Department will provide instructions for reimbursing the Department for disallowed costs if necessary.
  2. Profit is allowed only for "for-profit" organizations as negotiated in the program budget. Any amount exceeding the budget approved profit amount will be considered program income and must be reinvested in the program and expended for uses under the original award.