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Questions and Responses Regarding Collaborative Efforts: IV-D Agencies and Agencies Administering Welfare-to-Work Program

AT-00-08

Published: September 15, 2000
Information About:
Other Public Partners, TANF (IV-A), Workforce/Labor, State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Family Services & Referrals, Economic Stability/Job Services, Funding, Federal Financial Participation (FFP)
Types:
Policy, Action Transmittals (AT)

ACTION TRANSMITTAL

OCSE-AT-00-08

DATE: September 15, 2000

TO: STATE AGENCIES ADMINISTERING CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PLANS UNDER TITLE IV-D OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT AND OTHER INTERESTED INDIVIDUALS

SUBJECT: Policy Questions and Responses Regarding Collaborative Efforts Between IV-D Agencies and Agencies or Organizations Administering the Welfare-to-Work Program.

BACKGROUND: The legislation authorizing the Welfare-to-Work (WtW) program under section 403(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (the Act) reflects the Congress’ recognition that participation of noncustodial parents in the WtW program can promote family responsibility, accountability and self-sufficiency. Although outreach and referral to the WtW program is not a State plan requirement, OCSE encourages States to make special efforts to inform potentially eligible noncustodial parents about the existence and availability of WtW services including those available through One-Stop Centers. In addition, it is important to note that Congress, in the Welfare to Work and Child Support Amendments of 1999 (Title VIII of Pub. L. 106-113), amended section 454A(f) of the Act by adding Private Industry Councils/Workforce Investment Boards (PIC/WIBs) to the list of sources with which State IV-D agencies must share data for information comparison purposes. Section 454A(f) of the Act now requires States to disclose to PIC/WIBs the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and identifying case number information of noncustodial parents residing in the service delivery area of the PIC/WIB for the purpose of identifying and contacting noncustodial parents regarding participation in WtW programs.

OCSE has received several inquiries about the disclosure of data and the availability of Federal Financial Participation (FFP) under Title IV-D of the Act for work activities programs for noncustodial parents. The purpose of this Action Transmittal is to inform States and other interested individuals and organizations of OCSE’s policy responses to these inquiries

As you know, the Office of Child Support Enforcement and Office of Family Assistance issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter (DCL-98-11) on February 9, 1998, encouraging IV-D and IV-A agencies to work together to support WtW programs. We also issued IM-00-05 (Joint Guidance on Strategies to Enhance the Recruitment, Referral, Eligibility Determination, and Service Provision Processes Between WtW, TANF, and CSE Agencies) and IM-00-06, a State-by-State listing for use in contacting local WtW operators. We appreciate the efforts that you have made to date and encourage further collaboration in this important area

ATTACHMENT: Attached are questions and answers in response to inquiries regarding

IV-D agencies’ collaborative efforts with agencies or organizations administering the WtW program. The questions are arranged by subject matter.

INQUIRIES: ACF Regional Program Managers

David Gray Ross

Commissioner
Office of Child Support Enforcement

COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS BETWEEN IV-D AGENCIES AND WELFARE-TO-WORK PROGRAMS

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

A. OUTREACH AND REFERRAL

Q1: What is the Welfare-to-Work (WtW) program, its purpose and goals?

A1: The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (Pub L. 105-33) established the WtW Program under section 403(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (the Act). Through this program, Congress authorized the U.S. Department of Labor to provide $3 billion to States and communities to assist the hardest-to-employ welfare recipients and noncustodial parents with the greatest challenges to employment to move into unsubsidized jobs and economic self-sufficiency. Many noncustodial parents are unemployed or have low-wage, intermittent employment. Helping these parents find and keep jobs and increase their earnings is critical to the well-being of their children. Under the Welfare to Work and Child Support Amendments of 1999 (Title VIII of Pub. L. 106-113), noncustodial parents are eligible for WtW programs if: (1) they are unemployed, underemployed, or having difficulty paying child support obligations; (2) their minor child is eligible for, or receiving TANF benefits, received TANF benefits during the preceding year, or is eligible for, or receiving assistance under the Food Stamps program, the Supplemental Security Income program, Medicaid, or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or the custodial parent has been receiving TANF benefits for at least 30 months or is within 12 months of becoming ineligible for TANF; and (3) they enter into a personal responsibility contract under which they commit to cooperating in establishing paternity and paying child support, to participating in services to increase their employment and earnings, and to supporting their children.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) supports the welfare reform goal of assisting welfare recipients in moving to work and self-sufficiency. By providing employment-related assistance designed to move hard-to-employ TANF recipients and noncustodial parents into unsubsidized jobs and economic self-sufficiency, the WtW program will help make the work objective attainable for thousands of American families.

Q2: Section 403(a)(5) of the Act refers to formula and competitive grants. What are these?

A2: Section 403(a)(5) of the Act requires that 75 percent of the WtW grant funds be allocated to States based on a formula that equally considers States' shares of the national number of poor individuals and adult recipients of assistance under TANF. States must provide one dollar of non-federal funding match for every two dollars of federal funding provided under the formula. Governors are responsible for administering formula grant funds and for assuring that they are coordinated with funds spent under the TANF block grant. IV-D agencies must coordinate with these formula grantees to ensure that eligible noncustodial parents are served by the WtW program. The 25 percent of funds not allocated by formula are used for competitive grants awarded directly by the Secretary of Labor to local governments, PIC/WIBs, and other entities that apply in conjunction with a PIC/WIB or local government.

Q3: The Welfare to Work and Child Support Amendments of 1999 refer to a personal responsibility contract. What is it and who are the relevant parties?

A3: In order to participate in a WtW program under section 403(a)(5)(C)(iii)(III) of the Act, a noncustodial parent must be in compliance with a personal responsibility contract entered into among the noncustodial parent, the WtW grantee and the State IV-D agency. The contract must be developed taking into account the employment and child support status of the noncustodial parent. The contract must, at a minimum, include: a commitment by the noncustodial parent to cooperate in the establishment of paternity, if needed, and in the establishment of a child support order, if one is not already in effect; a commitment by the noncustodial parent to cooperate in the payment of child support; a commitment by the noncustodial parent to participate in employment or related activities that will enable the noncustodial parent to make regular child support payments; a description of the services to be provided by the grantee and a commitment by the noncustodial parent to participate in services designed to assist the noncustodial parent to obtain and retain employment, increase earnings, and enhance the financial and emotional contributions to the well-being of the child.

Q4: What creative strategies are State IV-D agencies using to collaborate with State IV-A agencies, PIC/WIBs and other grantees administering the WtW program to optimize the participation of noncustodial parents in the WtW program?

A4: Several State and local agencies have implemented strategies that have successfully increased the participation of noncustodial parents in the WtW program. For example, the Division of Child Support (DCS) of Yakima and Kittitas Counties in the State of Washington has joined with the Counties’ prosecuting attorneys and PIC/WIB to implement a WtW employment project to target unemployed or under-employed noncustodial parents. Based on length of non-payment of child support and the length of time a NCP’s child or children have received TANF, DCS refers the noncustodial parent to the prosecuting attorneys. After reviewing the file, the prosecuting attorney utilizes the 147Contempt Process and Provisions within the Court Order148 to generate referrals to the PIC/WIB. DCS reports that communication and coordination among the partners has been the key to the success of this project. They also say that having a clear understanding of each partner’s role in the project is essential.

Another example is the State of Illinois employment and training program for noncustodial parents. The Noncustodial Parent Services Unit (NCPSU) was established in April 1994 to provide a non-adversarial venue for noncustodial parents of children receiving TANF to address their needs under the child support system. The program provides qualified noncustodial parents with both employment and non-employment related services through direct referrals to private -sector and community-based providers. NCPSU represents a collaborative effort between the local Circuit Court System including judges and the clerk of the court, State Attorney’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, State IV-A agency, State IV-D agency and the community. In fiscal year 1999, the program placed more than 80 individuals in full-time positions making in excess of minimum wage. Each person has in place an income withholding order to continue support payments.

Q5: Does section 466(a)(15) of the Act allow a IV-D agency to mandate that a noncustodial parent participate in a work program?

A5: Yes, in certain cases. Section 466(a)(15) requires a State to enact laws providing for procedures under which the State has the authority, in the case of an individual owing overdue support with respect to a child receiving assistance under title IV-A, to issue an order or request that a court or administrative process issue an order, requiring the individual to pay support in accordance with a plan approved by the court or State IV-D agency or, if subject to a plan, participate in work activities as defined in section 407(d) of the Act.

Q6: Must the referral of a noncustodial parent to a WtW program be based on a 147seek work148 order issued by a court or an administrative process?

A6: No. The issuance of a 147seek work148 order by a court or an administrative process is not a prerequisite to a referral of a noncustodial parent to a WtW program. The IV-D agency may refer noncustodial parents who are not subject to a 147seek work148 order to a WtW program as long as the decision to request services from the WtW program is voluntary on the part of the noncustodial parent.

Q7: Will income documentation gathered by a noncustodial parent suffice for eligibility determination or will IV-D agencies need to verify with the custodial parent?

A7: Eligibility determination decisions are the responsibility of PIC/WIBs, not IV-D agencies.

B. DISCLOSURE OF IV-D DATA

Q8: May States disclose IV-D data about noncustodial parents to PIC/WIBs administering a WtW program?

A8: Yes. The Welfare to Work and Child Support Amendments of 1999 added paragraph (5) to 454A(f) of the Act specifically stating that IV-D agencies must disclose data on the name, address, telephone number and identifying IV-A case number information of noncustodial parents residing in the service delivery area of the PIC/WIB with PIC/WIBs for the purpose of identifying and contacting noncustodial parents regarding participation in the program under section 403(a)(5) of the Act. The definition of a PIC also includes a WIB established pursuant to title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. State IV-D agencies are only required to disclose data on noncustodial parents who are potentially eligible for the WtW program. Additionally, the Welfare to Work and Child Support Amendments of 1999 added language to section 403(a)(5)(A)(ii)(I) of the Act requiring a State to describe as part of its WtW addendum to its title IV-A plan how it will ensure that a PIC/WIB to which information is disclosed pursuant to section 454A(f)(5) of the Act has procedures for safeguarding the information and for ensuring that the information is used solely for the purpose described in that section.

Q9: In non-TANF cases, may the IV-D agency provide PIC/WIBs with names of delinquent noncustodial parents if the PIC/WIB is providing services to non-TANF noncustodial parents?

A9: States can only disclose information on potentially eligible noncustodial parents. Since the majority of eligible noncustodial parents will be associated with TANF cases or former TANF cases, States may not routinely disclose information on all non-TANF noncustodial parents. The State must develop criteria to identify those non-TANF noncustodial parents who may be eligible. However, States should also ensure that this information is safeguarded to the same extent as information on noncustodial parents associated with TANF cases.

Q10: May PIC/WIBs disclose IV-D data on noncustodial parents to other grantees?

A10: No. PIC/WIBs may use the data exclusively for purposes identified in section 454A)(f)(5) and must safeguard the information from improper use and disclosure.

Q11: How frequently must State IV-D agencies share data with PIC/WIBs?

A11: The statute does not specify the frequency with which State IV-D agencies must share data with PIC/WIBs. We encourage State IV-D agencies to coordinate with their local PIC/WIBs to seek agreement on this.

Q12: If a IV-D agency has identifying data elements for any of the programs that are related to determining eligibility for WtW in its automated system, can it disclose that information to PIC/WIBs?

A12: A State IV-D agency would be required to follow the disclosure rules for the programs in question.

Q13: If there is a Family Violence Indicator on a noncustodial parent can the IV-D agency disclose IV-D data on that parent to a PIC/WIB?

A13: The response depends on the source of the information on the parent. If the data originates from the FPLS the State may not disclose it. Section 453(b)(2) of the Act provides that "[n]o [FPLS] information shall be disclosed to any person if the State has notified the Secretary that the State has reasonable evidence of domestic violence or child abuse and the disclosure of such information could be harmful133148 If, however, the data originates from the State IV-D agency, the answer will depend on the State’s policy. Section 454(26) of the Act requires States to "have in effect safeguards, applicable to all confidential information handled by the State agency, that are designed to protect the privacy rights of the parties, including -- * * * (C) prohibitions against the release of information on the whereabouts of 1 party or the child to another person if the State has reason to believe that the release of the information may to that person [sic] result in physical or emotional harm to the party or the child."

In practice, some States say that, if the FPLS would be prohibited from surrendering data once there was knowledge of potential harm, then the State would do nothing less and therefore release no data. Other States feel that sharing the data with another agency is appropriate but they would inform the PIC/WIB about the Family Violence Indicator so they can take precautions with the data.

C. FEDERAL FINANCIAL PARTICIPATION

Q14: Is Federal Financial Participation (FFP) available for referring noncustodial parents to work activities ordered pursuant to section 466(a)(15) of the Act?

A14: After a noncustodial parent has been ordered to attend a work activity program, the IV-D agency may make inquiries of the noncustodial parent to determine which work program he/she should be referred to and may make the referral. These activities would be considered a cost attributable to the administration or operation of the IV-D program, and therefore eligible for FFP. However, the determination of eligibility for, and cost of participation in, WtW programs are the responsibilities of the WtW grantees, not the courts or the IV-D agency. As stated in a letter to Region IX dated September 2, 1993, FFP is available for identification and referral of unemployed noncustodial parents to job training; coordination with courts regarding compliance with court orders; tracking participation; and data collection. That letter also stated that FFP is not available for non-IV-D functions such as training and services provided by entities other than the IV-D agency.

Q15: Is FFP available for follow up/tracking of noncustodial parents referred to work activity programs?

A15: Yes, if the follow up/tracking is for IV-D purposes. Where the court issued an order directing a noncustodial parent to attend such a work program, the IV-D agency’s activities regarding follow-up and tracking of the noncustodial parent would be considered enforcement of the court's order, and properly attributable to the administration or operation of the IV-D program. Several States have designed WtW programs to include monthly case management meetings with representatives from the IV-D agency and the PIC/WIB to provide an opportunity for on-going tracking and follow-up of noncustodial parents referred by the court to the WtW program. FFP would be available for IV-D staff engaged in these activities.

Q16: Is FFP available for activities related to a IV-D agency’s contractual responsibility as a signatory of each noncustodial parent’s Personal Responsibility Contract? This might include routine case follow up to ensure the noncustodial parent is continuing to meet his obligations.

A16: Unless the noncustodial parent is participating as a result of a court order, FFP is only available for costs incurred as part of developing the Personal Responsibility Contract.

Q17: Does section 466(a)(15) of the Act grant the IV-D agency authority to administer work activity programs such as the WtW program for noncustodial parents?

A17: No, nor would FFP be available. As stated in PIQ 98-03 issued on June 15, 1998, 147Section 466(a)(15) of the Act does not require that IV-D programs establish, provide, or administer work activity programs for noncustodial parents.148 Therefore, costs of these activities may not be attributed to the IV-D program.

Q18: Is FFP available for peer group counseling for noncustodial parents?

A18: The availability of FFP for counseling services was addressed in PIQ-83-06 issued on March 9, 1983. Although this PIQ addressed the specific issue of FFP availability for mediation counseling, the regulation cited applies to the current question regarding peer group counseling as well. PIQ 83-06 states " under certain circumstances, crisis intervention and referral services may be incidental and inseparable from IV-D functions. In such situations, these services might be construed as "necessary expenditures properly attributable to the child support enforcement program.148 However, FFP is not available under 45 CFR 304.20 for time allocated to non-IV-D functions, and person hours devoted to providing such services should not be charged to the IV-D program." Where the counseling activities performed are primarily directed toward accomplishing child support purposes, the services may be eligible for FFP.

Q19: Is FFP available for materials to advertise the availability of WtW programs to noncustodial parents?

A19: The IV-D agency may enter into an agreement with IV-A agencies, PIC/WIBs and other grantees administering the WtW program to publicize the opportunity for noncustodial parent participation. Any media such as videotapes, flyers, and posters utilized by the IV-D agency for outreach purposes must be provided and funded by the IV-A agency, PIC/WIB or grantees administering the WtW program.

Q20: Is FFP available for work-related activities that are not connected to the WtW program?

A20: The same kinds of activities described in Q & As 14 and 15 would be eligible for FFP. That is, identification and referral services and follow up/tracking services for cases referred by court order would be eligible for FFP