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Regulations

Verifying Regular School Attendance MPP 40-105.5(a) and determining good cause for failure to attend regularly

School attendance for children 17 and under must be verified 60 days after approval for applicants, and annually thereafter as part of the annual redetermination of eligibility.

The definition of what constitutes "failure to be attending school" will be defined using Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) guidelines used by each school district.

When the school verification is not returned or attendance is unsatisfactory, there may be a good cause reason that a child is not in school. Examples of "good cause" include, but are not limited, to:
  • The child is too ill to attend school.  Most school’s will note ‘medical’ or ‘ill’ on the attendance sheet they provide.  A doctor’s statement may be required for excessive absences (Five or more in a semester, for example.)
  • Family emergencies, such as death in the family, extended family illnesses, etc., may also be good cause reasons for unsatisfactory attendance. A sworn statement from the client is acceptable verification in these circumstances. 
  • The child has been removed by the school pending a decision by the school regarding what action(s) will be taken.
All possible good cause situations need to be reviewed by the unit Supervisor or Senior ETS and the determination documented in the case file.  Good cause situations can also be reviewed with the TANF PPA

When good cause for poor attendance is found, the EW/ETS will follow up with an HSD 509A after a reasonable period.  What constitutes a reasonable period should be determined on a case by case basis considering the circumstances surrounding the poor attendance and the time of year. 

Informing recipients of the 48 month time limit requirements and procedure to claim time limit exemption

Clients are notified of the time limit regulations and exemption criteria at their intake application, add-persons and annual renewal interviews. The CW 2184 (available in English or Spanish) informing notice and TEMP 2184A are included in all application and renewal packets and must be reviewed with the client.  A copy of CW 2184 must be Imaged with the case record.

Because of the significant impact this change in the law will have on recipients, California Department of Social Services have directed that for the period of June 2011 through December 31, 2011, clients must be provided a 30 day Notice of Action advising of either a grant reduction or discontinuance of aid.  During this transition period, the Notice of Action must also include a TEMP 2186A (4/11) advising of the rules on Time Limits, exemptions and extensions.  This process has been automated by the CalWIN project and these notices (along with the TEMP 2186A) will be auto-generated at the end of the month prior to the action taking affect to meet the 30 day noticing requirement. 

Beginning January 1, 2012, adult recipients who are subject to the CalWORKs 48 month time limit will receive an informing notice at their 42nd month of aid, and a Notice of Action at their 46th month of aid advising them of their Time on Aid.  A Notice of Action will be sent 10 days prior to any decrease or discontinuance in accordance with current noticing requirements.

Eligibility for Lump Sum Diversion Services

In order to be considered for a Diversion payment or services, the applying Assistance Unit must be apparently eligible for CalWORKS and the following considered:

In considering whether a family might benefit from diversion, the following should be considered:

  • the applicant’s employment history;
  • the likelihood of the applicant keeping full-time employment or obtaining it within the next month (i.e. a bona fide offer of employment with a specific start date)
  •  income from employment is sufficient to support themselves;
  • the family’s need for cash assistance to pay for housing or substantial unforeseen expenses or work related expenses;
  • housing stability; and
  • adequacy of the applicant’s child care arrangements, if applicable.

and,

  • The family must demonstrate the need cannot be met with current or anticipated family income or resources.
  • There is an expectation that within the next month the family will be employed or have another specific means of self-support. (This includes self-employment and unearned income).
  • The applicant will choose to participate in the Diversion Program or pursue the application for SonomaWORKS. If diversion is selected, the parent(s) must sign a Diversion Agreement listing the conditions of the diversion payment.
  • The amount of the diversion payment may not exceed three times the nonexempt Maximum Aid Payment (MAP) for the Assistance Unit (AU).
  • No more than four months of future items, such as housing or utilities will be authorized 
  • Diversion payment shall be made as a vendor payment or a referral for services.
  • If an applicant opts for diversion,the SonomaWORKS application is denied.
  • Diversion payments cannot be made for "Penalty fees".  An example of this would be a DMV "penalty fee" for not sending in an automobile registration renewal on time, although we may pay the regular renewal portion of the cost.
All Diversion Service requests must be reviewed by an Intake Unit Supervisor and approved by the TANF PPA.

Repayment procedures for Diversion Services paid to clients who reapply and are determined eligible during the Diversion period 

If a diversion recipient returns and applies for SonomaWORKS within the diversion period and is determined eligible for aid, then the diversion payment/service must be recouped through one of two methods. The diversion recipient has the option to either:
  • allow the county to recoup from the grant the value of the diversion payment/service at the rate of 10% of the full MAP amount, or
  • count the total diversion period against the 48-month time limit.
If the client requests the county to collect the value of the diversion from the grant, the diversion payment/services is collected before any overpayments are collected. We will not collect on diversion and overpayments at the same time.

Determining the most feasible and cost effective method of repair or replacement of items lost by an Assistance Unit due to sudden and unusual circumstances beyond the AU’s control

An AU is entitled to receive a nonrecurring special need payment in order to:
  • repair or replace clothing or household equipment,
  • provide assistance for damages to the home,
  • pay for interim shelter when the AU’s home is made uninhabitable or inaccessible
if these items were lost due to sudden and unusual circumstances beyond the AU’s control; such as fires, floods or natural disasters.

The department needs to determine the most feasible and economic method of repair or replacement including the availability of donated or used serviceable items. Clients in these circumstances should be referred to 211 (local resource and referral) for assistance in obtaining necessary items in the most feasible and cost effective way.  Staff from 211 will work with the client and program staff to access community resources and arrange for semi-donated items from local charities, and other resources. 

Determining what overpayments are not cost-effective to pursue collections on and what overpayments are eligible for a settlement of the total amount for repayment  MPP Section 44-350.161 and 44-352.46

Sonoma County pursues all collectable overpayments and considers it cost effective to pursue all regulatory collection methods until the overpayment is paid in full.  Sonoma County does not have a settlement process to reduce outstanding overpayment amounts.

Determining whether good cause exists for a late QR 7

Good Cause exists only when the recipient cannot reasonably be expected to fulfill their reporting responsibilities due to factors outside their control.

The client may request good cause either verbally or in writing but they must request it before the 1st month of the Payment Quarter is over. (Once the 1st month has passed, the client must reapply.) The filing of a state hearing or a reapplication automatically requires the case be evaluated for Good Cause.

Good Cause can exist for any number of reasons.  Some examples of Good Cause are:
  1. The client has a physical/mental condition which prevented timely reporting.
  2. The client had a death in the family.
  3. Other extenuating circumstances.
Good Cause may happen more than once to a client, depending on their situation.

The ETS/EW can determine Good Cause using the above criteria.  All clients will be granted “Good Cause” for extenuating circumstances through their first 2 cycles of Quarterly Reporting if there is any confusion about their reporting responsibilities or requirements. Whether or not Good Cause is granted, the comment sheet should be well-documented.

Extending the job search period is likely to result in unsubsidized employment.

Clients may be extended two additional weeks of job search on a case by case decision.  Examples of when an extension may be granted are:
  • Client has been participating in job search satisfactorily. 
  • Client is in the middle of the application and interviewing process.
  • Client has a good job lead and is in the middle of making contact with employer.
  •  

Satisfactory progress for purposes of allowing a recipient to continue in an undergraduate degree or certificate program that leads to employment.

Satisfactory progress is determined by the school using the school’s academic standards. 

Determining that a program leads to employment, for recipients whose program is not on the list of approved SIPs, or for recipients who are participating in education activities as part of a WTW Plan.

The participant may have their SIP approved if the program is not on the list, is listed as non-approvable or is listed as “RR” (“requires research”) as long as they demonstrate that their program will lead to self-supporting employment.
  • The client is given the Self-Initiated Program (SIP) Determination form detailing out what additional document that explains the process.  
  • The client is also required to turn in required documentation prior to the end of the current semester or to prove that their program will lead to self-supporting employment available in Sonoma County (or anywhere they are willing to relocate).
Once the participant returns the forms, the worker & supervisor needs to decide if the program will lead to self-supporting employment.

Referring a participant for an evaluation and determination of any treatment needs when it is believed that the mental health or substance abuse problems will impair the ability of the participant to obtain and retain employment. 

Sonoma County refers all clients for an evaluation for mental health or substance abuse services when it is believed the problems will impair the ability to participate in Welfare to Work services, obtain and are retain employment.

Subject satisfactory participation in an assigned education or training activity.  These criteria must include regular attendance and satisfactory progress in the assigned activity. 

Satisfactory progress is determined by the school using the school’s academic standards.  In order to count the hours the client is attending school for WPR they must be making satisfactory progress.  In addition to academic standards the client must be meeting their work participation hours as assigned and submitting regular attendance records, periodic progress reports such as mid quarter reports and report cards.

Determining what conditions, in addition to those in regulations, may be considered good cause for not participating in welfare-to-work activities.

A client may be excused from participation in Welfare to Work activities for good cause when there is a condition or other circumstance that temporarily prevents, or significantly impairs, the client’s ability to be regularly employed or to participate in WTW activities.   Examples of good cause may include but are not limited:
  • Temporary illness (review for exemption if more than 30 days)
  • Temporary illness of child or family member (review for exemption if more than 30 days)
  • Breakdown of transportation arrangements
  • Lack of child care
  • Lack of appropriate special needs child care
  • Breakdown in child care arrangement
  • Lack of access to shelter, counseling, or other services
  • Homelessness
  • Death in the family
  • Severe family crisis
  • Physical access barriers for the disabled
  • Earthquake or severe weather condition prevented travel/attendance
  • Learning disabilities that are a factor in the failure to participate
  • Legal difficulties
  • Court appearances
  • Temporary incarceration
  • Remoteness from Welfare to Work activities
  • Language barriers
  • Discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability
  • Employment or offer of employment exceeds the daily or weekly hours of work customary to the occupation
  • Violation of health and safety standards
  • No workers’ compensation insurance
  • Accepting employment or participating in a work activity would cause an interruption to an approved education activity or job training (except work experience or community service)
  • Violation of union membership
  • Recurring health issues
  • Failing an employer drug test
  • History of family/child substance abuse
  • Irregular sobriety
  • Chronic homelessness
  • Irregular or sporadic work history
  • Chronic family or relationship problems
  • Anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Current or past violence or harassment (sexual, physical, or emotional)
  • Fear of abuse or abuser
  • Sabotage from abuser when the victim attempts to become independent
  • Abuser interferes with work or Welfare to Work activity
  • Concern for children’s safety
  • Lack of appropriate services
  • Physical/Mental health/Substance abuse issues
  • Severe depression and/or anxiety
  • Issues related to living in temporary housing or a sheltered environment
  • Legal problems such as restraining orders, divorce, court appearances, etc.
  • Victim of a stalker
  • Lack of support system (isolation)
  • Stockholm Syndrome (bonding with the captor)
  • Economic control (abuser hides or controls money, checkbooks, savings, etc.)

Determining what child care is commonly available in the community and what distance is customarily traveled by working families in accessing child care services in the community

Applicants/recipients seeking childcare are referred to two local Resource and Referral (R&R) Networks for listings of local child care providers based on their area and need. 

Sonoma County uses the annual Needs Assessment from the local Child Care Planning Council and updated data from the two R&R agencies to gauge what care is commonly available in the county.  There is no limit on customary travel as travel time is assessed based on the case needs for WTW activity assigned or employment.

Determining when program requirements would be waived for a recipient who has been identified as a past or present victim of domestic abuse when it has been determined that good cause exists.

A determination must be made on whether or not the client can participate in work activities or if they should be exempt from participation due to the severity of the issues the client is dealing with.

In order to stop the client’s CalWORKs 48 month’s time on aid clock the client must be unable to participate due a domestic abuse crisis.  Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Client is fleeing the abuser and is in temporary housing or homeless.
  • Client is in a shelter.
  • Client is concerned about the safety of themselves or his/her children.
  • Client is trying to obtain a restraining order or take divorce action against the abuser. 
  • Undergoing counseling to cope with the effects of the abuse. This also applies to the child/ren participating in counseling.
Examples of eligibility program waivers include:
  • Paternity establishment
  • Child support cooperation requirements
  • Immunization requirements*
  • School attendance*
  • Submitting verifications timely*
  • MFG child*
* These can only be waived if the abuse was the direct reason for noncompliance. Domestic abuse waivers including the MFG rule must be linked to a client’s inability to obtain employment or participate in WTW activities.  These exceptions must be individually discussed with the SonomaWORKS Planner Analyst.  It is Sonoma County’s Policy not to apply program waiver or exemptions retroactively.

Determining the duration and types of services, and, when available, the reimbursement rate for, those services for former recipients.

Post aid services are available to employed clients for 6 months.  Clients who have reached their 48-month limit and are employed may use post aid services for 6 months after being discontinued from the grant.

Types of services offered are:

  • Domestic Abuse Services
  • Legal Services
  • Mental Health Services
  • Substance Abuse Services
  • Transportation
    • Post Aid clients can receive reimbursement for transportation costs if it is determined that not receiving help with transportation would prevent the client from keeping their job for up to three months. The supervisor may approve transportation reimbursement up to six months on a case by case determination
  • Child Care
    • Post Aid clients may be eligible for up to 24 months of child care assistance if they meet income limits. 

Determining when an ancillary expense is necessary for the individual to participate in WTW activities.

Ancillary funds should be used judiciously. Special ancillary requests not listed below that would enable the client to participate needs to be discussed with a supervisor or manager. Check other resources before using these funds.

Items that may be covered by ancillary expenses but may require a case evaluation and approval by a supervisor or manager include, but are not limited to:

  • clothing needed for job interviews or a job andspecial clothing required for work (i.e. nurse’s uniform)
  • tools or equipment required for a job
  • books and fees for training (i.e. SRJC, Lewis Adult, Empire)
  • car insurance (client must be vehicle owner)
  • car registration (client must be vehicle owner)
  • self-employment start-up/expenses
  • union initiation fees if a participant gets a job that requires union membership.