MR #15.17: TANF State Work Participation Rate and Policy

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.

Illinois Department of Human Services

07/08/15

This manual release obsoletes Policy Memorandum "TANF State Work Participation Rate and Policy" dated 4/8/15.

Summary:

  • Information included in Policy Memorandum "TANF State Work Participation Rate and Policy" dated 4/8/15 is placed into the manual.
  • Additional guidance on including Countable and Support activities in the Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP) is added. 
  • Participation in Countable activities must be supervised. Hours of participation which are reported must correspond to the hours the individual actually worked or participated.
  • Hours of participation in an unpaid activity may include hours missed due to specific holidays.
  • Special considerations are given when designing a RSP of certain Work-Eligible persons as they move toward the goal of full engagement in Countable activities.
  • Obsolete TANF activities are removed from the manual.  
  • Additional TANF Clarifications:
    • FCRC's and providers determine "good cause" for not completing hours in assigned activities. Only central office staff determine "excused absence" hours for participation reports.
    • Cooperation with a Family Assessment and development of a Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP) at application is required for TANF eligibility. Noncooperation without good cause results in denial of the application.
    • Cooperation with reviewing the RSP at a Case Management Contact, or at an Intensive Case Review is an Activity compliance requirement. Noncooperation is subject to the reconciliation and sanction process.
    • The exception to the 30-day deferral of Countable activities is given the name "Revolving Door" exception. It applies to TANF applicants who have lost cash due to noncompliance with an activity requirement within 6 months of reapplication. 
    • The difference between Teen Parent and Minor Parent terminology is explained.
    • Due to frequent questions, we are clarifying Minor Parent filing unit policy.
    • Where Teen Parent Services (TPS) is available, treat keeping an appointment with TPS as voluntary while the application is pending. Do not deny the TANF application if the teen parent does not keep the appointment with TPS unless meeting Revolving Door criteria.  
    • TANF only requires verification of pregnancy when it is a condition of TANF eligibility. A woman who has dependent children is already eligible for TANF, so there is no need to verify subsequent pregnancies.  
    • A link to TANF State Contacts is added to the manual to assist with verification of number of TANF months used in another state.
    • Item 69 Match Code value "5" is used in the legacy system to identify a civil union partner who is included in the TANF filing unit as an optional member.

  1. Introduction
  2. Manual Reorganization
  3. Supervising, Verifying and Reporting Countable Hours of Participation
    1. Supervised by Provider
    2. Supervised by Educational Program
    3. Supervised by FCRC
    4. Verifying Hours of Employment
    5. Verifying Hours of Job Search
  4. Obsolete Activities
  5. Cooperation with Barrier Reduction Referral and Treatment
  6. RSP Guidance for Vocational Training after 12 Months
  7. RSP Guidance for Associate/Bachelor Degree Program
  8. Special RSP Considerations for Work-Eligible Persons
    1. RSP guidance for refugees:
    2. RSP guidance for Homeless services:
    3. RSP guidance for DCFS services:
    4. RSP guidance for referrals to DRS/DoA for care of others:
  9. Holiday Hours
  10. ADDITIONAL TANF CLARIFICATIONS
    1. Confusion between "good cause" and "excused absence"
    2. RSP at Application
    3. Ongoing Review of RSP
    4. "Revolving Door" Exception to 30-Day Deferral of Countable Activities
    5. "Teen Parent" and"Minor Parent" Policies
    6. Minor Parent Filing Unit Policy
    7. Teen Parent Services (TPS)
    8. Verification of Pregnancy
    9. TANF Months Counted in Other States
    10. Civil Union Partner as Optional Filing Unit Member
  11. Manual Pages Revised:
  12. Manual Pages Deleted:
  13. Forms Referenced:

Introduction

This manual release places policy included in Policy Memorandum "TANF State Work Participation Rate and Policy" dated 4/8/15 into the manual. 

Additional guidance is provided for:

  • supervising, verifying and reporting hours in Countable activities; and
  • including Countable and Support activities in the Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP).

Manual Reorganization

To eliminate duplication, information primarily related to each of the following topics has been reorganized and condensed into these chapters:

  • Chapter 02 - RSP development;
  • Chapter 03 - Activity compliance and participation requirements (look here for anything concerning TANF activities which have the words "must", "required", or "not required" associated with them)
    • Participation requirements are moved from Chapter 21 to Chapter 03.
    • Determinations of exempt status are moved from Chapter 21 to Chapter 03.
    • Review of RSP becomes Case Management Contact, and is moved from Chapter 19 to Chapter 03.
    • Intensive Case Review is moved from Chapter 19 to Chapter 03.
  • Chapter 21 - Activity descriptions.  

Links to various TANF policies replace redundant text in Chapter 14.

Supervising, Verifying and Reporting Countable Hours of Participation

The hours of participation which are reported must correspond to the hours the individual actually worked or participated in Countable activities. Participation must be supervised.

Supervised by Provider

The provider tracks, monitors and reports the client's hours of attendance.

If the provider has access to an electronic reporting system, hours of actual participation are reported to the FCRC electronically on a weekly basis. The provider retains paper documentation of the client's attendance. The FCRC reviews the information, resolves any discrepancies, makes any necessary revisions, and approves the information in the reporting system. 

If the provider does not have access to the electronic reporting system, the provider signs off on a attendance report form. The provider or client provides the completed forms to the FCRC weekly. The FCRC resolves any discrepancies and enters and approves the information in the electronic reporting system.

Supervised by Educational Program 

The class instructor or other school personnel are expected to sign an attendance report form. The school or client provides the completed forms to the FCRC no less often than monthly. The FCRC reviews the information, resolves any discrepancies, and enters and approves the information in the electronic reporting system.

Supervised by FCRC

The customer provides the attendance information on the attendance reporting form or job search form as frequently as requested by the FCRC, but no less often than monthly.  Information is reviewed and discrepancies resolved during the case management contacts. The FCRC enters and approves the information in the electronic reporting system.

Verifying Hours of Employment 

Project hours of employment for up to 6 months at a time based on prior, documented actual hours of work.

When a change in the number of hours of employment is reported (at the REDE or during the 6-month period) the number of hours worked must be verified.

For counting and verifying hours of Self-Employment, see PM 03-06-01-c

If the hours can be verified by wage stubs provided, or through the Work Number, proceed to update the RSP if needed and make the necessary changes to the hours of employment and income for the remaining months in the 6-month period. If the customer is also receiving SNAP benefits, make the necessary changes to the SNAP calculation.

If the customer's hours or employment meet their Participation Target, the RSP can be updated by mail. If the customer's hours of employment do not meet the Participation Target, schedule a case management contact to review and update the RSP.

If verification is still needed:

  1. Continue to use best estimate based on the customer's statement of their rate of pay, hours of work, and number of expected paychecks. Project income and hours based on the best estimate;
  2. Revise the RSP if needed based on the client's statement; AND
  3. Request verification of the change. See WAG 08-01-01 for earned income verification sources.

If requested verification is not received, the client has failed to comply with developing their RSP. Without verification of their hours of employment we cannot determine if they are meeting the Participation Target or what, if any, additional hours are needed. Follow sanction policy in PM 03-13-04.

Verifying Hours of Job Search

As we must report actual time spent in a Countable activity, references to 20 Job Search contacts are removed from the manual. The client must keep a daily record which includes information about the employer contacted, contact method and time spent in the activity. Provide a supply of revised TANF Work & Training Job Search Notice and Report (Form 2329J) to the client when assigning Job Search as an activity. The client signs and returns the report as part of the case management contact. Verify the record of employer contacts by randomly calling listed employers, reviewing corroborating information about the contacts, and by asking the client specific questions about selected entries. Ask the client the to provide the result of each contact.  

Obsolete Activities

The following activities are removed from the manual:

  • On the Job Training (OJT) is removed as a separate activity. The activity is included as part of Employment or Work First/Work Experience.
  • Self-Employment Training is removed as a separate activity. The activity is included under Job Skills or Vocational Training.
  • Job Retention is removed as a separate activity. If time spent in job retention services is in addition to hours in paid employment, count as Job Skills Training.
  • Activities for Parents with Children Under Age One are split out into various Support activities.
  • Foster Parenting is removed as an activity.

Cooperation with Barrier Reduction Referral and Treatment

Cooperation with barrier reduction referral and treatment is a Support activity compliance requirement unless exempted as noted, for persons who are: 

  • Identified by a treatment provider/MCO/HMO as having an alcohol or substance abuse problem, and accepted for treatment. They must participate in the treatment program unless employed 30 hours or more per week;
  • Identified by a treatment provider/MCO/HMO as having a mental health problem, and accepted for treatment. They must participate in the treatment program unless employed 30 hours or more per week, or meeting their case Participation Target, or are caring for a child under age 1, or are age 60 or over.
  • Referred to the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), and accepted by DRS for services. They must participate in the program unless employed 30 hours or more per week, or meeting their case Participation Target, or are caring for a child under age 1, or are age 60 or over. 

RSP Guidance for Vocational Training after 12 Months

Most Vocational Training programs are completed within 12 months. To encourage successful completion, there is no additional work requirement during the first 12 months of participation in the program.

After 12 months, the client may continue in the program, but they must also be employed, or be engaged in a work activity. The work requirement and how to include it in the RSP, depends on the type of case as shown in the table below.

Type of case: Participation Target Minimum Core Requirement Work Requirement RSP Guidance

One Work-Eligible

child under 6

20 hours 20 hours 10 hours

Approve up to 10 hours in Vocational Training; and

Add at least 10 hours in a different Core activity (not Bachelor/Assoc Degree Program).

One Work-Eligible

youngest child 6 or older

30 hours 20 hours 20 hours

Approve up to 10 hours in Vocational Training; or

Approve the vocational program as Job Skills; and  

Add at least 20 hours in a different Core activity (not Bachelor/Assoc Degree Program).  

Two Work-Eligible 35 hours 30 hours 20 hours

Approve up to 15 hours in Vocational Training; and

Add at least 20 hours in a different Core activity (not Bachelor/Assoc Degree Program).

RSP Guidance for Associate/Bachelor Degree Program

Approve participation under Associate/Bachelor Degree Program ONLY when the person:

  • is in a one Work-Eligible case; and
  • attends college full-time; and
  • meets the grade point average requirement.

The grade point average requirement is considered to be met:

  • during the first semester of full-time attendance, while GPA is being established; or 
  • the cumulative GPA is at least 2.5 after the first (or any later) semester; or
  • one additional semester after the cumulative GPA falls below 2.5 to give the client time to bring it back up. 

If all of these criteria are not met, approve participation under Job Skills Training (see PM 21-03-01).  

Special RSP Considerations for Work-Eligible Persons 

Certain TANF recipients do not meet any criteria to exempt them from engaging in Countable activities, yet they may have challenges which make it difficult to achieve the Work-Eligible Participation Target. Special considerations are given when designing a RSP to help these individuals move toward the goal of full engagement in Countable work and training activities.

As long as a person is following the plan to address the challenge, do not sanction a case solely because the Participation Target is not met. Participation in a required Support activity is a good cause reason for not meeting the case Participation Target.

The following situations call for special considerations:

  • Pregnant Women;
  • Victims of Family Violence; 
  • DCFS Services (Intact Family & Norman cases); 
  • Homeless Services;
  • Refugees; 
  • Referred for Barrier Reduction Support Activities (Vocational Rehabilitation, Alcohol/Substance Abuse, Mental Health);
  • Referred to DRS/DoA for Care of Others.

RSP guidance for refugees:

All refugees may attend English as Second Language (ESL) class for up to 3 months, even if they read and speak English upon entry. In addition to language instruction, orientation to American culture and activities of daily life are provided in ESL class. Those who are not proficient in English may need more time in ESL.

After the initial 3-month period, assess clients who are not yet employed to determine if they are ready to progress to Vocational Training or a work activity, or if additional time in ESL is needed. An individual may participate in ESL classes under Education Related to Employment for up to 24 months.

When deciding which activities to include in the RSP of a refugee, consider the level of language proficiency and education:

  1. Reads and speaks English, educated: 3 months in ESL for orientation to American culture.
  2. Literate and educated in native language: 3 months in ESL, longer if needed.
  3. Illiterate in native language: up to 24 months in ESL, evaluate every 3 months.

Add Support activities as needed and appropriate to family circumstances. Progress to Countable activities as the person progresses and is likely to succeed.

If the person is supervised by a Voluntary Sponsoring Agency (VOLAG), include Countable activities in the RSP which the agency has the person engaged in. Contact the agency before imposing a sanction to make certain the refugee understands expectations.

RSP guidance for Homeless services:

Although a homeless family needs help to maintain housing and financial stability, homelessness itself does not exempt a TANF recipient from engaging in Countable work, training and education activities.

If a client indicates they are required to spend time in activities as a condition of remaining in a shelter, ask the client to provide a plan, and to sign a consent for release of information for follow-up with shelter staff. Include verified shelter activities which match descriptions of DHS activities in the client's RSP.

RSP guidance for DCFS services:

When a TANF applicant or recipient indicates that they are currently receiving intact family services from DCFS, or they are listed as a Norman case, ask the client for a copy of their DCFS plan.

When creating a RSP, include DCFS activities which agree with DHS Countable and Support activity descriptions. If there are questions, contact the family's DCFS worker. Give priority to the DCFS plan. Don't schedule appointments or activities which conflict with DCFS requirements.

RSP guidance for referrals to DRS/DoA for care of others:

If an applicant or client claims a conflict with full engagement in Countable work, training and education activities because they care for someone with a medical condition who is not a related child under age 18 or spouse, they are not eligible for an exemption due to a Family Care Barrier.

If the person who needs care qualifies for services, the client or another person may be hired as a personal assistant, thus either providing earned income to the client, or freeing them to train for, or obtain other employment.

Facilitate a referral for the person who needs care to:

  • the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) if the person is under age 60, or has AIDS, or a brain injury; or
  • the Department on Aging (DoA) if the person is age 60 or over, and does not have AIDS, or a brain injury.

To initiate a referral to DoA, call the DoA Helpline at 800-252-8966. For a referral to DRS, continue to fax Referral for Assessment (Form 4647) to 217-557-0242. 

During the referral and evaluation process, assign the client to Support activity Health (PM 21-04-09) as their main activity.

Assign Countable activities (PM 21-02-00 & PM 21-03-00) to the extent the family situation allows.

Holiday Hours

Hours of participation in an unpaid activity may include hours missed due to specific holidays.

The hours must be hours to which the client would have been assigned, but was unable to complete because of the holiday. Enter only the hours the client would have normally worked on that day.

This policy applies to the following holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King Day,
  • Presidents' Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans' Day
  • Thanksgiving Day Thursday
  • Thanksgiving Day Friday
  • Christmas Day

Example 1: Ms. A reports to her Work Experience site Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Memorial Day falls on Monday, which is not a day she is scheduled to work. Do not enter Holiday Hours under Memorial Day for Ms. A.

Example 2: Mr. B is assigned to Community Service at a food pantry for 4 hours each day of the week. The pantry remains open on Veteran's Day. Mr. B is expected to complete his hours on Veteran's Day. Enter hours as worked, not as Holiday Hours.

Example 3: Ms. C attends an adult GED program for 5 hours on Tuesday and Thursday. The school is closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Enter 5 hours as Holiday Hours for Thanksgiving Day. The school is also closed on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but since Ms. C does not normally attend on Friday, do not enter Holiday Hours for that day.

ADDITIONAL TANF CLARIFICATIONS

Confusion between "good cause" and "excused absence"

"Excused absence" hours are used ONLY by central office staff for participation reporting purposes. FCRC's and providers have no responsibility for determining and approving "excused absence" hours. These hours are not to be confused with "good cause" reasons for not completing hours in assigned activities. For good cause reasons, see PM 03-13-04-a

RSP at Application

Per state law, we are required to complete a Family Assessment and develop a Responsibility and Services Plan (RSP) before approving a TANF case. If a RSP cannot be completed systematically, manually complete Responsibility and Services Plan - Activities to Meet Goal (Form 4003) and applicable forms for individual activities (Forms 4003A - 4003T).

To be eligible for TANF, an applicant must cooperate with a Family Assessment and development of a RSP. If a TANF applicant does not cooperate with this process without good cause, deny the application. 

  • For a direct and stated refusal, deny the cash request using TA 05/TAR 27 - "You refused to cooperate in the development or signing of a Responsibility and Services Plan".
  • For failure without direct and stated refusal, deny the cash request using TA 05/TAR 03 - "Due to your failure to keep appointments your eligibility cannot be established".  

Ongoing Review of RSP

Client cooperation with a request to review their RSP is an activity compliance requirement. If a client does not respond to requests for a Case Management Contact, or an Intensive Case Review, follow the procedure for reconciliation and sanction of an active client.

"Revolving Door" Exception to 30-Day Deferral of Countable Activities

The exception to the 30-day deferral of Countable activities is given the name "Revolving Door" exception. It applies to TANF applicants who have lost cash due to noncompliance with an activity requirement within 6 months of reapplication. 

"Teen Parent" and"Minor Parent" Policies

The terms "teen parent" and "minor parent" have specific meanings in policy. A teenager is a minor parent until they attain age 18, and is a teen parent until attaining age 20.

  1. Teen parent refers to the activity compliance requirement for a teenager (under age 20) to finish high school or earn a GED.
  2. Minor parent refers to policies for teenage parents who are legal minors (under age 18). Policies which apply to minor parents are:
    1. Filing unit: PM 04-01-02;
    2. The "live at home" requirement: PM 14-06-00. 

Minor Parent Filing Unit Policy

A minor parent has their own filing unit and receives the adult payment level unless they must be included as a dependent child in another filing unit. 

The minor parent must be included as a dependent child in another filing unit when meeting all of the following conditions:

  1. qualifies as a dependent child (PM 03-04-02); and
  2. is living with a sibling or caretaker who requests/receives TANF; and
  3. is not married, or in a civil union; and
  4. is not living with the other parent of their child.

Note:  When a minor parent does not meet above criteria to be included as a dependent child, they have their own filing unit. Their siblings or parents are not required to apply for TANF. Determine parent liability when the minor parent's parent has income and is not requesting TANF (PM 10-04-04).

Teen Parent Services (TPS) 

Teen Parent Services (TPS) refers to two specialized DHS offices in Cook County which case manage TANF teen parent cases. Cases outside outside of Cook County are managed and supervised by the FCRC.

Where TPS is available, create a brief RSP which includes a referral to TPS for a teenage parent who does not have a high school diploma or GED. Due to the 30-day deferral of Countable activities, treat keeping the appointment with TPS as voluntary while the application is pending. Do not deny TANF if the teen parent does not keep the appointment with TPS unless they meet Revolving Door criteria. Once the case is approved, the minor parent must cooperate with developing a full RSP with TPS, and must participate in the activities included on the RSP as part of the TANF activity compliance requirement. For start date of activities, see PM 02-09-02.

The TPS offices also serve teen parents who do not receive TANF. They are either not eligible to be included in the filing unit with their child, or else TANF was not requested for the unit. They are still eligible for TPS services on a voluntary basis. Do not sanction or cancel benefits due to noncooperation with TPS unless the teen parent is a TANF recipient. 

Verification of Pregnancy 

TANF only requires verification of pregnancy when it is a condition of TANF eligibility. A woman who has dependent children is already eligible for TANF, so there is no need to verify subsequent pregnancies.  

For a TANF adult-only pregnant woman case, require a signed statement from an approved Medicaid provider which states the woman is pregnant and the expected date of delivery. 

Use Verification of Pregnancy (Form 2304) if an acceptable statement from an approved Medicaid provider is not presented. 

TANF Months Counted in Other States

To contact an out of state agency to learn the number of months used in that state, see TANF State Contacts under Caseworker Assistance; Favorite Links (One Net access only). Send requested changes to the contact list to dhs.policydevelopment@illinois.gov. This information is added to WAG 03-06-02.

Civil Union Partner as Optional Filing Unit Member

Item 69 Match Code value "5" is used in legacy systems to identify a civil union partner who has no children of their own in the case, and who is included as an optional TANF filing unit member. See MR #14.15 Same Sex Marriage & Civil Unions dated 06/09/14.

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[signed copy on file]

James T. Dimas

Secretary-designate, Illinois Department of Human Services

Forms Referenced:

Form 2304

Form 2329J

Form 4003 series

Form 4044