< Back to Search

Wilson-Fish Alternative Program Guidelines

Published: September 29, 2017
Categories:
Wilson/Fish

DOWNLOAD PDF 165KB

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION

II. CLIENT ELIGIBILITY

III. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

IV. PROGRAM SERVICES
  A. Case File Documentation
  B. Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)
  C. Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA)/Refugee Medical Screening (RMS)
  D. Intensive Case Management (ICM)
  E. Refugee Social Services (RSS)
    1. Employment/Employability Services
    2. English Language Training (ELT)
    3. Translation and Interpretation Services (also applicable to RCA, RMA, RMS)

V. PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION
  A. Statewide Coordination
  B. RCA/RMA Administration

VI. PROCEDURES AND DEFINITIONS
  A. Procurement of Services
  B. Sanctioning and Fair Hearing Process
  C. Procedure for a WF Program to Revert to a State-Administered RCA or Public Private Partnership (PPP) Model
  D. Definition of Terms

VII. REPORTING

VIII. APPLICATION
  A. Substantial Involvement Under the Cooperative Agreement
  B. Contents of the WF Application

I. INTRODUCTION

These guidelines are provided to grantees under the Wilson-Fish (WF) alternative program to assist them in their delivery of services and assistance to eligible populations. The purpose of the WF program is to establish an alternative to the traditional State-administered refugee assistance program through the provision of integrated assistance (cash and medical) and services (employment, case management, English Language Training (ELT) and other social services) to clients in order to increase early employment and self-sufficiency prospects. In addition, the WF program enables refugee assistance programs to exist in every state where refugees are resettled.

The statutory authority for the WF program was granted in October 1984, when Congress amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide authority for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to implement alternative projects for refugees (Wilson-Fish Amendment, Pub.L. 98-473, 8 U.S.C. 1522(e)(7)). The WF Program is also referenced in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) regulations under the heading “Alternative RCA Programs” at 45 C.F.R. § 400.69.

II. CLIENT ELIGIBILITY

Grantees must ensure that applicants meet all requirements of 45 C.F.R. 400.43 ("Requirements for documentation of refugee status") to be eligible for the WF-funded program. Eligibility for ORR services and assistance also includes: Refugees, Asylees1, Cuban Haitian Entrants2, Certain Amerasians3 from Vietnam, Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking4, and Special Immigrant Visa Holders5.

All eligible individuals will be referred to as “refugees” or “clients” in these guidelines, unless the context indicates otherwise. For more details on documentary proof of the above statuses and all other ORR eligible populations, including statutory and regulatory authorities, visit the ORR website.

III. PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Under the WF program guidelines, the grantee will provide interim financial assistance, medical assistance (if applicable), employment services, case management, and other social services to clients in a manner that encourages self-sufficiency and fosters greater coordination among refugee resettlement agencies and other community-based service providers. An integrated system of assistance and services is an essential characteristic of a WF program. Services and assistance under this program are intended to help clients attain self-sufficiencywithin the period of support defined by 45 CFR 400.211.6 This period is currently eight months from the date of: arrival in the U.S. for refugees and SIVs, adjustment of status if applying for Special Immigrant Status within the U.S (SIVs), final grant of asylum for asylees, becoming an entrant for a Cuban or Haitian7, and certification or an eligibility letter for Victims of Severe Forms of Trafficking.

WF programs provide assistance and services to ORR-eligible clients for the purpose of enhancing self-sufficiency, in circumstances : (1) where assistance and services for refugees receiving RCA and those receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) could be provided in a better coordinated, effective, and efficient manner; (2) where the payment rate for RCA and TANF is well below the ORR payment rates listed in the ORR regulations at 45 C.F.R. section 400.60; (3) where TANF-eligible refugees may not have access to timely, culturally, and linguistically compatible services in the provision of employment and training programs; (4) where existing options for delivery of services and assistance to refugees do not present the most effective resettlement in that location, and where resettlement could be made more effective through the implementation of an alternative project; (5) where the continuity of services from the time of arrival until the attainment of self-sufficiency needs to be strengthened; or (6) where it is in the best interest of refugees to receive assistance and services outside the traditional TANF system.

WF programs have the flexibility to design programs tailored to the clients’ needs and assets and to the environment of the resettlement community.

There are seven main elements of WF programs, some of which may differ from traditional State-administered refugee resettlement programs8:

a. The provision of cash assistance, case management, and employment services are integrated and administered generally under a single agency employing a “one stop shop” model that is culturally and linguistically equipped to work with ORR-eligible clients.
b. WF programs utilize innovative strategies for the provision of cash assistance, through incentives, bonuses, and income disregards tied directly to the achievement of employment goals outlined in the client self-sufficiency plan.
c. RCA may be administered and/or delivered by the State or a private entity.
d. Monthly RCA payment levels may exceed state TANF payment levels (up to the PPP levels outlined under 45 C.F.R. §400.60).
e. Cash assistance to TANF-eligible clients can be provided as described within the RCA section below, and as governed by 45 C.F.R. §400.60.
f. RMA may be administered by a private entity.
g. WF programs provide intensive case management to ORR-eligible clients who are determined to have special needs.

Funding for the WF program is made available under the Transitional Assistance and Medical Services (TAMS) and Social Services line items. Under TAMS, WF grantees receive WF-Cash and Medical Assistance (WF-CMA) discretionary funds which are awarded through cooperative agreements to cover RCA, RMA (if privately administered), Intensive Case Management, statewide coordination, and RCA/RMA administration costs. WF-CMA discretionary grants are awarded based on a budget of estimated costs for providing up to eight months of RCA and RMA (if applicable) to eligible clients and up to one year of Intensive Case Management, as well as for the identifiable and reasonable administrative costs associated with providing RCA and RMA and statewide coordination. WF-CMA is a cost reimbursement grant. Any unobligated balances will be used as an offset to the following year's award for this grant.

Funds for employment and other social services under the WF program are provided through the formula Refugee Social Services (RSS) grant. RSS funding is based upon each state's arrivals over the prior two fiscal years, adjusted for secondary migration. These allocations are listed in the Final Social Services Notice. WF RSS grants are for services defined in 45 C.F.R. §§400.154/155 of the ORR regulations. Grantees must submit an annual plan of services (45 C.F.R. §§400.4 and 400.5) and an annual WF Social Services budget.9

The approved WF application and signed cooperative agreement serves as the umbrella covering all services and assistance that operate under the authority of the WF program. The WF requirements listed in these guidelines are applicable to all program components funded through the WF-CMA discretionary and RSS formula funds.

IV. PROGRAM SERVICES

WF programs must generally adhere to the same governing regulations as States unless otherwise agreed upon and approved by ORR. Title 45 of the C.F.R. Part 400 contains information on the purpose of the refugee program, State plans and the award of grants, general administration of the program, identification and documentation of clients, RCA, employability services, RMA, child welfare services, RSS, federal funding of the refugee program, waivers and withdrawals, and targeted assistance funding. The sections of the regulations from which privatized WF programs are exempt are described under 45 C.F.R. § 400.301 (c).

The approved WF application serves as the de-facto State Plan for those services included. Other services that are provided outside the scope of the WF program (usually medical and Unaccompanied Refugee Minor services) must be described separately as part of a separate State Plan submission, adhering to ORR checklist format (OMB 0970-0351) and budget requirements outlined in the ORR-1 CMA budget estimate form/instructions and in ORR State Letters #12-13 and #13-03. WF programs are expected to compile a policy and procedures manual pertaining to the provision of assistance and services provided under the WF program.

The WF programs are responsible for the quality of all required services and for ensuring that they are provided in a manner that is culturally and linguistically compatible with a client’s background and needs. In particular, the agency will ensure that language assistance is provided to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) clients in accordance with ORR State Letter #05-20.

A. Case File Documentation

A critical aspect of service provision and assistance is documenting and tracking services and referrals by maintaining a client case file. WF file documentation must be separate from that of services provided to clients through other programs and the Reception and Placement (R&P) Cooperative Agreement. Separation by sectioning WF from other services in combined files is acceptable. In cases where a refugee case is split among programs, each separate WF case must have a separate section in the file. (See Definitions below for splitting cases).

For all WF clients, a case file shall be maintained includes the following, as applicable to the program(s) and/or service(s) in which the client is enrolled:

  1. Intake information: Date of eligibility, date of enrollment, date of WF service termination, number and names of members of the case upon arrival, documentation showing the individual is eligible for services (45 C.F.R. §400.43 and ORR State Letter 16-01), alien number, birth date, current address, health status, educational level, native language, literacy and English language level, prior work experience and skills, and Social Security number when obtained
  2. A signed and dated WF enrollment form and a letter of Client Rights and Responsibilities Documents must be translated into the languages of each client caseload.10
  3. A resettlement plan, also known as the Family Self-Sufficiency Plan (FSSP), detailing steps and projected time frames to be taken by the client, the agency, and, as applicable, the family member(s) to work toward the earliest possible employment and self-sufficiency for the family, including strategies to remove any barriers to self-sufficiency and a budget detailing the expected costs and the amount of earnings necessary to be self-sufficient. This plan must be translated in the client's own language. If the client needs Intensive Case Management, his/her strengths assessment and personal wellness plan must also be included in the case file.
  4. Clear documentation of all services provided to clients based upon the needs and goals identified in the FSSP
  5. If a client is enrolled in a training program, the date, type, intended duration, expected outcomes, and provider of the training program
  6. Documentation of regular contact with, and monitoring progress of members of the caseover time with summary notes regarding the purpose and outcomes of that contact. Notes and general documentation should cover all required service areas as prescribed in each FSSP. All services received as a result of the FSSP are to be documented in the file, regardless of whether the person providing the services is funded through WF funds.
  7. A statement(s) regarding the status of the case at 240 days after date of initial eligibility, e.g. whether the employable clients are employed, number of hours per week, at what wage(s), place(s) of employment, employer contact information, whether or not health benefits are available within180 days of placement, self-sufficiency status, referral to TANF, etc. These status statements must be located in a designated place in all case files, easily found, and not randomly stated within the case notes.
  8. An action plan completed for each RCA client who is not employed at the end of the eight month time eligibility period. The plan should include the specific steps the WF agency will take to help these clients to become self-sufficient.
  9. Documentation of childcare and after school care, if needed
  10. Clear document of RCA payments, including monthly redetermination calculations and acknowledgement of receipt initialed by an adult member of the client family. Each file must have a summary sheet of all cash assistance expenditures allocable to the WF program.
  11. Proposed budget for the respective case with actual expenditures to date. The budget for each family unit, translated if necessary, must show a list of proposed expenses and income necessary to cover such expenses. The budget must show income from WF cash payments during the WF service period as well as income from employment as applicable. This budget should be a realistic reflection of the household's financial situation during and after the WF service period and should demonstrate self-sufficiency defined as an income level sufficient to preclude eligibility for public assistance.
  12. Documentation of the termination of the case, status at termination, and referrals to subsequent programs if needed. Upon completion of WF RCA and/or RMA or at the end of eight months, the client must be provided a termination letter indicating the self-sufficiency status of the client; a statement of eligibility for additional refugee services for up to five years and referrals to services as appropriate; a reminder to adjust their immigration status to lawful permanent resident (LPR) after one year from date of grant of the immigration status that made the individual eligible for the WF program, if they did not have LPR status when admitted to the United States; and a reminder that, if they move, they must complete and submit to the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) a Form AR-11 Change of Address form and file a change of address form with the United States Postal Service (USPS). This letter must be translated in the client's own language.3.

B. Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA)

Funding Source: WF-CMA

Objective: To provide adequate financial support to meet the subsistence needs of the client for up to eight months after their date of eligibility for ORR benefits and services

General Eligibility: Eligibility for RCA is determined by program site staff based on 45 C.F.R. §§ 400.50, 400.51, 400.52, 400.53, 400.59 and 400.62. Upon ORR approval, clients eligible for TANF may also be eligible to receive WF-RCA in the form of a differential payment when the state TANF payment rate is lower than the WF rate. Clients that are eligible for SSI are not eligible for WF RCA and may only receive RCA until cash assistance under the SSI program is provided. Married spouses joining family members in the U.S. should not be treated as single: the income and resources of the spouse who first arrived to the U.S should be considered when determining eligibility of the later arriving spouse. An adult child of 18 years or older is treated as a separate case. (See Definitions below for "splitting cases.")

WF Eligibility: Consistent with section 412(e)(7)(B) of the INA, clients that receive cash assistance under the WF program may not also receive cash assistance under the TANF program during the period of support provided under the WF program. However, TANF recipients may be eligible to receive a WF differential payment in those WF states where the TANF payment rate is lower than the WF payment rate listed under 45 C.F.R. §400.60 of the ORR regulations. The provision of a differential payment to TANF-type refugees will enable all newly arrived refugees in the state to receive the same payment level for the first eight months upon arrival to the United States. The following criteria must be met before ORR will consider providing CMA funds to TANF-type refugees:

  1. The state TANF rate is lower than the ORR WF rate listed at 45 C.F.R. §400.60 and,
  2. The state provides the full amount of TANF funding to the refugee or to the WF agency to be used on behalf of the refugee,
  3. The state disregards the WF differential payment for the purpose of determining financial eligibility for state TANF and Medicaid (WF agencies could consider offering the differential RCA payment in the form of a direct vendor payment to ensure that this assistance will not negatively impact the client’s financial eligibility for state/federal means tested programs),
  4. The state TANF agency agrees to coordinate with the WF and/or state refugee agency to ensure that TANF-type refugees have access toemployment and other social services that are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

WF sites must link continued eligibility for the receipt of cash assistance to compliance with the Family Self-Sufficiency Plan (FSSP) developed jointly by the client, the case manager, and the employment specialist. Compliance is to be monitored by the case manager or other staff assigned by the WF Director.

Monthly Re-determination: All sites must have a process for determining continued eligibility for cash assistance on a monthly basis. Eligibility must be linked to compliance with the FSSP and to income from employment. Cash assistance payments should be reduced on the basis of income from employment after factoring in applicable disregards. Case files shall contain a copy of paychecks to substantiate eligibility for employment-based incentive payments and documentation showing compliance with the FSSP. Also, WF agencies must maintain procedures for ensuring recovery of overpayments and the correction of underpayments in accordance with C.F.R. §400.49.

Refugee Cash Assistance Payment Levels: RCA payment levels are determined by the program and approved by ORR in accordance with 45 C.F.R. §400.60. Cash assistance should begin at the date of application.
Incentives and Bonuses: Income disregards and other incentives may be developed to support the client’s entry into employment as soon as possible within the parameters of the FSSP. The incentive is not an entitlement. Incentives may include but are not limited to: a bonus for becoming employed, a bonus for job retention of 90 days, or an income disregard.

C. Refugee Medical Assistance/Refugee Medical Screening

Funding Source: WF-CMA

Objective: To ensure that clients not eligible for state Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have access to medical services comparable to those provided by state Medicaid, in accordance with Subpart G - Refugee Medical Assistance (§§45 C.F.R. 400.90-107).

WF Eligibility/Scope: Although ORR has included the provision of medical assistance as an allowable activity under these guidelines, the best medical assistance option available in most circumstances is the existing State-administered program of RMA, as well as Medicaid and CHIP. The option to provide medical assistance under these guidelines is available only (a) where a State chooses to discontinue participation in all areas of the refugee program, including the provision of refugee medical assistance; or (b) in the event that there are significant problems in the provision of medical assistance and/or medical screening to clients in a state and where an alternative private medical assistance plan or provider is available that is able to provide a more appropriate and timely range of services for clients at an affordable cost.

  1. In WF programs that choose to privatize health and medical services for clients ineligible for Medicaid/CHIP, the WF program will work with ORR to determine how best to provide these services to eligible populations.
  2. If alternative medical assistance is included in the WF program, participants are precluded from receiving Medicaid/CHIP during the period of support provided under the WF program. However, note that WF programs are required to first ensure that individuals seek Medicaid/CHIP coverage if they are eligible.
  3. In other WF programs where RMA is provided through the State and outside the scope of the WF program, WF agencies shall coordinate with the State to ensure that clients access medical assistance and health screening services provided through the state Medicaid/CHIP or RMA program.

Medical Screening:

Medical screening is covered under the CMA formula program (see 45 C.F.R. §400.107 and ORR State Letter #12-09 for Medical Screening Guidelines with corresponding reimbursement rates. State Plan and ORR-1 requirements are applicable).11

D. Intensive Case Management

Funding Source: WF-CMA

Objective: To ensure that services are provided to eligible clients who are determined to need intensive case management in a planned, effective, and timely manner; are appropriate to the needs of the clients; and contribute to their community integration, early employment, and self-sufficiency

Intensive case management services include a strengths-based assessment and personal wellness plan directed toward the achievement of self-sufficiency goals, referral to services for support and barrier removal, and monitoring of progress toward goal achievement. Intensive case management shall commence immediately upon enrollment and continue through the client’s first year after arrival to the U.S. Services should be strengths-based and person-centered, building on a client’s strengths, resiliency and aspirations and supporting the client’s motivation and capacity to become self-supporting.

Target Population: Clients with special needs may include elderly clients, those who have experienced trauma, those with complex medical concerns, and those facing other particularly challenging issues, who are identified and determined as needing intensive case management services. Clients who are not determined to need intensive case management may receive case management services supported by WF-RSS funds.

Intensive case management services are intended to enhance and not supplant case management services that are supported by existing programs such as the State Department’s Reception and Placement program or other ORR-funded programs such as the Preferred Communities Program.

E. Refugee Social Services

RSS formula funding is allocated to State and State-alternative programs based on population-served figures. RSS-funded services to ORR-eligible clients must be provided in accordance with 45 CFR Part 400 Subpart I -- Refugee Social Services.

1. Employment/Employability Services

Funding Source: Formula Social Services (Targeted Assistance funds can also be used as applicable)

Objective: To place employable clients as quickly as possible into appropriate jobs enabling the household unit to become self-sufficient prior to the end of the eight (8) month RCA time eligibility period. Employable clients are defined as a person who is between the ages of 18 and 64 who is not exempt from registering for employment services.12 WF agencies must develop written policies, to be approved by ORR, for determining exemption criteria for employment. Employment services are to be provided to employable clients beginning upon enrollment in the WF program and continuing until the client becomes self-sufficient or at the conclusion of the five-year eligibility period, whichever occurs first. The level of employment services received by each client should reflect the skills, needs, and barriers identified in the FSSP. Agencies providing WF employment services must provide these services in a consistent and equitable manner as needed to all clients and in accordance with Subpart F - Requirements for Employability Services and Employment (45 C.F.R. §§400.70-83).

ORR requires that, if necessary, clients accept "entry level" employment (see 45 C.F.R. §400.81(a) for criteria for appropriate employment). WF programs shall communicate to employable clients who lack English language competency that they must exert a good faith effort to obtain employment while acquiring the competency in English to facilitate self-sufficiency and retain employment. WF programs shall continue to look for suitable work with clients through job upgrades where appropriate.

WF programs shall attempt to find employment for all employable members of the family unit when requested and/or as necessary for the family to become economically self-sufficient.

In those relatively rare cases where newly arrived clients who, because of their past employment, particular skills, or entrepreneurial experience, may be good candidates for self-employment, WF programs should assist the client to obtain any applicable business or operator licenses as required and retain copies in the file. WF programs should determine self-sufficiency of the self-employed client based on the net income of the client, which is gross income less expenses and applicable local, state and federal taxes, as compared to the basic budgeted living expenses for the case.

Allowable Services13:

  1. Job development: An ongoing process of networking with employers to develop prospective job openings for WF clients
  2. Job counseling: Ongoing interaction between the client and the employment staff regarding questions and concerns that clients have about the world of work, job search, the need for early employment, job retention, and the consequences of refusing an appropriate offer of employment
  3. Direct job placement assistance: Assisting the client to identify and contact prospective places of employment, scheduling appointments for job interviews, conducting employability assessment and skills testing, preparing clients for interviews, and following up on results of interviews. (Each locale must have a staff person who is responsible for providing or overseeing provision of these services to assist clients to become employed. This person may receive assistance from sponsors and volunteers in locating employment, but the WF program is ultimately responsible for full provision of said service.)
  4. Follow-up with employer and employed clients: Contacting the employer (if the agency or the agency's volunteer has found the job placement) and contacting the employed clients (regardless of whether the agency or the client found the job placement) within two weeks after the client has started work to identify any adjustment problems and to assist in the resolution of those problems. (Follow-up activities must occur at a minimum for 90 days upon placement.)
  5. On the job training: When provided at the employment site and expected to lead to full-time unsubsidized employment with the employer providing the training
  6. English language instruction: Related to obtaining or maintaining employment
  7. Services that lead to job upgrades: For clients with particular skills or vocations, or when necessary in order for the client family to achieve economic self-sufficiency
  8. Vocational training: When provided as part of an employability plan
  9. Skills re-certification: When an individual is employed but needs training to qualify to practice his/her profession in the U.S: must be no longer than one year, and criteria must be in accordance with 45 C.F.R. § 400.81 (b)
  10. Day care for children: When needed for the acceptance and/or retention of employment
  11. Transportation: When necessary for the participation in an employability service and acceptance and retention of employment
  12. Translation and interpreter services: When in connection to employment or participation in an employability service
  13. Case management services: Limited to clients who are employable
  14. Assistance in obtaining EADs: Assistance to a client to apply for an EAD or apply for a fee waiver (ORR funds cannot be used to pay for the EAD)

2. English Language Training (ELT)

Funding Source: Formula Social Services (Targeted Assistance funds can also be used as applicable)

Objective: To provide ELT to clients as part of an overall employability plan as prescribed by the case manager (45 C.F.R. §400.154)

  1. Funds may be used to provide or assist clients in enrolling in an ELT class, as needed, according to competency level and previous ELT identified in the resettlement plan. ELT must be concurrent with rather than sequential to employment services. ELT must be provided without cost to the client.
  2. ELT classes shall be scheduled so as not to inhibit employment search and employment. As such, evening classes are recommended where possible. Classes should be geared toward early employment and self-sufficiency. (45 C.F.R. §400.156)
  3. WF programs are required to document in the case file attendance and progress of the client when ELT is indicated as an essential part of the resettlement plan for employment.
  4. WF programs shall inform clients that non-participation without good cause in ELT, where ELT is indicated as essential in a resettlement plan for employment, may be considered grounds for sanctioning or terminating cash assistance.
  5. WF programs shall take reasonable measures to ensure that tutoring support services provided by volunteers are coordinated with the ELT curriculum and are provided in response to the needs indicated in the resettlement plan. Volunteers should be provided program orientation and ongoing guidance to assist in effective service delivery.

3. Translation and Interpretation Services

Funding Source(s): WF CMA Discretionary and Formula Social Services, as related to the provision of their respective benefits and services (45 C.F.R. §§400.154 and 400.155)

Objective: ORR-funded programs are required to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services to clients as required by Title VI (Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination) and as required by 45 C.F.R. §400.156.

To ensure compliance in this area, WF programs shall periodically review client needs and adjust staffing and translation of documents accordingly. WF programs shall also maintain a list of individuals in the community who are available to supplement languages spoken by program staff.

Per 45 C.F.R. §400.55, all written policies and forms must be available in a client's language as they relate to eligibility, duration, and amount of cash assistance payments, and participation requirements, including penalties for non-cooperation and client rights and responsibilities. For client languages comprising a small proportion of the caseload, alternative methods such as verbal interpretation must be documented, signed by the client, and signed by the case manager/interpreter to ensure that policies are effectively communicated to each client. Verbal translation may also be allowable as an alternative to written translation of key WF documents (listed below) when the client is illiterate in his/her own language. A notation must be listed on these documents indicating that the documents were interpreted for the client and the client understood the contents of these documents.

Except as noted above, all WF programs must also translate the following types of documents into primary client languages:

  1. Documents that need client signature
  2. Documents that explain program services
  3. Documents that explain client rights and responsibilities
  4. Documents that explain key elements of the WF program
  5. Documents that provide notice in change of benefits or opportunity for hearings (45 C.F.R. §§400.23 and 400.54)

V. PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION

Funding Source: WF-CMA

Objective: To ensure planned, coordinated, timely, and appropriate delivery of services and adherence to federal regulations, policies, and guidelines. See State Letters #12-13 and #13-03 on estimating and reporting CMA administrative costs.

A. Statewide Coordination

The WF program is either a State or a State replacement (private non-profit entity) and is therefore responsible for the coordination of all refugee resettlement services in the state/geographic area covered by WF. The Director of the WF program is usually the State Refugee Coordinator (SRC). In cases where the WF program is administered by a private non-profit agency but where the State is a participant in the refugee program, the State is responsible for overall coordination of the portion of the program for which they have retained responsibility and should fulfill this function in close coordination with the Statewide WF Director. The State should appoint a State Refugee Coordinator unless the State withdraws from administration of all aspects of the Refugee Resettlement program or specifically requests to relinquish its role of State Refugee Coordinator. In this case, the role of Refugee Coordinator for the statewide program (WF SRC) will be assigned to the private WF agency which is determined in accordance with 45 C.F.R. §400.301.

ORR regulations (45 C.F.R. §400.5(h)) specifically require that the State or its designated replacement shall convene no less than quarterly meetings of representatives of all agencies that serve refugees, all local social service agencies, and representatives of state and local governments to plan and coordinate placement services prior to resettlement.

WF programs shall require that sub-grantees that participate in the program coordinate, as appropriate, with local TANF offices. This includes prompt response to welfare office questions concerning the level and duration of assistance provided to each client.

Also refer to State Letter #12-13 and #13-03 for further clarification of tasks that fall under this category.

  1. Statewide Coordination Requirements of the WF-SRC/Lead WF agency:
    a. Plan and coordinate program services with state and local community service providers (public and private) by holding quarterly meetings and by regular communication
    b. Provide technical assistance and training to sub-agreement agencies (if applicable) to ensure understanding and compliance
    c. Monitor the performance of the cooperative agreement and sub-agreement activities and review each program function to assure that adequate progress is being made toward achieving programmatic goals and compliance with federal regulations
    d. Prepare monitoring reports that include any corrective actions recommended. Follow-up on those recommendations shall be filed at the WF program office. Monitoring reports must be included in the ORR-6 submission, and other documentation related to monitoring activities must be made available to ORR upon request.
    e. Manage program finances and account for federal funds according to federal requirements
    f. Submit timely and accurate programmatic and financial reports as detailed in the WF program guidelines from ORR
    g. Obtain prior approval from ORR before making any significant changes in the design of the program or if the numbers of enrollment are higher than originally planned
    h. Maintain procedures for sanctioning clients that fail to comply with an agreed-upon WF self-sufficiency plan and/or directive involving attendance at counseling, training sessions, or English classes, or who refuse to be interviewed for or accept an appropriate job offer (See below on sanctioning).
    i. Ensure that written policies on the provision of RCA, including policies regarding eligibility standards, duration and amounts of cash assistance payments, requirements for participation in services, penalties for non-cooperation, client rights and responsibilities, and the process of sanctioning are available in the language of the primary caseloads and can be verbally translated for other caseloads (45 C.F.R. §400.55)
  2. Requirements of the WF Statewide Refugee Coordinator (WF SRC):14
    a. The WF SRC has a fiduciary duty to serve the best interests of all of the state’s ORR-eligible clients. Decisions pertaining to the administration of the statewide refugee program should be transparent and should be implemented in a fair and equitable manner amongst all of the state’s agencies that participate in the WF program.
    b. The WF SRC must develop a written code of conduct to ensure that administrative decisions, including the monitoring of a WF provider that is part of the same 501(c)(3) organizational structure as the WF SRC office, does not result in a conflict of interest that unduly benefits the lead agency (45 C.F.R. §75.327). The WF SRC should consider the inclusion of representative(s) from the other WF providers in the state when monitoring a WF provider housed in the same organization as the WF SRC.
    c. The WF SRC (or lead WF agency) must develop a policy for resolving disputes that may arise between the lead WF agency and sub-agreement agencies, as well as between the WF agencies and their clients, to ensure that concerns are addressed in a transparent and equitable manner.
    d. The WF SRC must coordinate with all agencies providing assistance and services to ORR-eligible clients in the state.
    e. The WF SRC must meet with and educate community partners and the public at large to advocate for ORR-eligible clients.15
    f. The WF SRC must attend ORR meetings when required.

B. RCA and RMA Administration

The lead WF agency is responsible for the oversight of the distribution of RCA and (if applicable) RMA/Medical Screening benefits to eligible clients.

Administrative tasks related to providing RCA to clients may include the following: intake and assessment of RCA eligibility; benefits authorization and processing of the RCA application; associated interpretation and translation of all required documentation; preparation and distribution of cash benefits; quality assurance, data entry, and reporting tasks related to the provision of RCA; and noncompliance documentation, conciliation, and sanctioning of RCA clients.

Administrative tasks related to providing RMA (if part of the WF program) may include the following: intake and assessment of RMA eligibility; benefits authorization and distribution of RMA benefits; associated interpretation and translation of all required documentation; quality assurance, data entry, and reporting tasks related to the provision of RMA; and administering and monitoring contracts or other mechanisms used for reimbursement of medical screening services.

Also refer to State Letters #12-13 and #13-03 for further clarification of tasks that fall under this category.

VI. PROCEDURES AND DEFINITIONS

A. Procurement of Services

  1. The lead WF agency must sub-award its WF-CMA funds with the other resettlement agencies in the WF state/geographic area to ensure that new arrivals receive seamless assistance and services from their resettlement agency upon arrival to the U.S.
  2. If, after providing technical assistance and implementing a corrective action plan, the lead WF agency determines that it would not be in the best interests of the clients for a particular sub-recipient resettlement agency to continue to serve its clients, the lead agency can select a replacement for the resettlement agency by engaging in a transparent Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The lead WF agency must develop written procurement procedures for selecting sub-recipients to serve eligible clients.16
  3. Sub-agreements must be based on a transparent methodology that factors in projected number of clients to be served. The methodology must be clearly communicated to the sub-recipients.

B. Sanctioning and Fair Hearing Process

WF programs may sanction a client who fails to comply with an agreed-upon resettlement plan and/or agency directive involving attendance at meetings with case managers, training sessions, or English classes, or who refuses to be interviewed for or accept an appropriate job offer.

In situations where sanctions will be applied, procedures must be in place to ensure that clients receive adequate advance written notice detailing the reasons for the intended action and presenting an opportunity for an adequate hearing before terminating benefits. All clients must be given due process before sanctioning takes place. ORR regulation 45 C.F.R. §400.54 requires that written notice be provided to the client at least 10 days before the date in which RCA will be reduced, terminated, or suspended. Benefits may not be terminated prior to a final administration action, but are subject to recovery by the agency if the action is sustained.

Such sanctioning may include terminating cash assistance and all services provided through the WF program. Sanctioning procedures must be presented to clients at the time of enrollment and must be translated if necessary. Should a sanction be applied, WF cash assistance recipients can be sanctioned for one payment month for the first failure to cooperate and 2 payment months for any subsequent failure.

Note: This is a departure from current ORR regulations (45 C.F.R. §400.82), which require "3 payment months sanction for the first failure and 6 payment months for any subsequent such failure." The new time period for RCA sanctions is more appropriate and proportionate to an eight month RCA program, compared to the current sanction time frame implemented at a time when refugees could receive up to 36 months of cash assistance.

ORR regulation 45 C.F.R. §§400.23 and 400.54 require that a state or local agency responsible for RCA must provide an oral hearing to contest adverse determinations. Hearings must be conducted by an impartial official of the state or local agency not directly involved in the initial determination.

C. Procedure for a WF Program to Revert to a State-Administered RCA or PPP Model

Once a WF program has been established in a state that has withdrawn from the refugee program, and absent any statutory or regulatory requirement for a WF program to revert to a state-administered RCA or PPP model upon request by the State, it is ORR’s policy that the following requirements be met for ORR to support the State’s request:

  1. The State and the current WF agency (and collaborative partners if applicable) come to an agreement that facilitates the transition from a WF to a state-administered or PPP model (or)
  2. The State provides justification that the change is in the best interest of the ORR-eligible clients, with a plan ensuring that services to ORR-eligible clients will continue uninterrupted and be coordinated with all of the resettlement agencies, (and)
  3. The State provides justification that the change is cost effective, and ORR concludes it is in the best interest of the federal government to effectuate a change.

D. Definition of Terms

  1. Interim Financial Support: Financial assistance that meets the basic needs of eligible clients in accordance with 45 C.F.R. §400.60. The greater part of this assistance is expected to be provided in the form of cash payments to clients, but may also include income disregards (income which is not counted in determining payment levels and financial eligibility for cash assistance) and incentive bonuses for early employment and job retention.
  2. Self-Sufficiency: Economic self-sufficiencymeans earning a total family income at a level that enables a family unit to support itself without receipt of a cash assistance grant. Cases and individuals receiving Food Stamps,Medicaid, etc. without cash payments are considered self-sufficient.
  3. Employed: This measure is defined as an individual who was determined and reported to be employable in the resettlement plan and who is legally employed in the United States. Only one job placement (full-time or part-time) should be counted per client on the ORR-6 and AOGP performance reports; full-time and part-time placements should be indicated separately. Full-time employment is defined as 35 hours or more per week; part-time employment is defined as fewer than 35 hours per week.
  4. Entered Employment with Health Benefits Available: This measure indicates the number and percent of clients that entered full-time job placements where health benefits are offered within the first six months of job placement. This is not a measure of the number of clients who elect to enroll in health benefits, but rather how many employers offered this option. Health benefits are considered available even if coverage is only available to the client and not extended to the employee's family members. Benefits are considered available whether or not the employee must contribute to the premium.
  5. Splitting Cases: A refugee household that has arrived together through the R&P program and has been designated one case number can be split prior to enrollment into the WF program, provided that the household composition is in accordance with the regulations of each respective state. Splitting prior to enrollment would primarily be done if:

    a. The case has parent/s with dependent children over 18,
    b. Particular members of the case are ineligible for WF RCA (e.g. a family member on SSI),
    c. The members of the case would be living in separate households, or
    d. If members of the household would be served under different programs

    If an office splits a case, case file documentation and outcome data should reflect the separation with an explanation of the rationale for the split. In instances where a refugee case is split for RCA purposes, each separate RCA case must have a separate section in the case file.

VII. REPORTING

WF programs are required to submit performance progress and financial reports periodically throughout the program year and in accordance with their approved cooperative agreement.

WF program activity and progress achieved toward meeting performance outcome goals are to be reported tri-annually on the ORR-6, the Trimester Performance Report, and submitted to GrantSolutions. Trimester reports must include the SF-PPR cover page, which can be found at:
www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/acf_ogm_ppr_updated.pdf.

WF programs must use the ORR-2 for required financial reporting and submit to GrantSolutions.

Trimester Performance Reports (ORR-6): Tri-Annually
Financial Reports (ORR-2): Quarterly

Performance progress and financial reports are due 30 days after the end of the reporting period.

Final program performance and financial reports are due 90 days after the close of the project period. Final reports must be submitted electronically to GrantSolutions.

Performance and expenditure report forms can be found on the ORR website at: www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/report-forms

VIII. APPLICATION

A. Substantial Involvement Under the Cooperative Agreement

The Wilson-Fish cooperative agreement provides for substantial involvement between the Federal awarding agency and the non-Federal entity in carrying out WF activities. As such, in addition to the information required to be submitted within its application each year, the regularly-scheduled tri-annual program performance and quarterly expenditure reports, and the Annual Outcomes Goal Plan process, the grantee will be expected to submit for Federal review and approval the following:

  1. Proposed amendments to the model as applicable
  2. Any changes to the proposed number of RCA and RMA (if applicable) recipients when they are expected to be higher than originally planned
  3. The WF Policy manual and proposed amendments to manual, as applicable
  4. Prompt notification to ORR of any changes regarding key staff

B. Contents of the WF Application

ORR is specifically interested in a detailed plan outlining how services and assistance will be provided to the target population and how they will be integrated under the WF program.WF agencies should explain how the services and assistance are provided and not simply list them. The plan should include, organized sequentially, the topics listed on the ORR State Plan checklist and other pertinent information germane to the WF program, as outlined below:

I. ADMINISTRATION

A. Authority and Organization
- A brief program history
- Identification of the WF Coordinator/State Refugee Coordinator (if applicable)
- Description of the organizational structure
- Description of program staffing/functions
- Description of program and fiscal oversight for the overall project and individual components, including oversight of sub-grantees
- Description of the precise location of the project and boundaries of the area to be served by the proposed project. Maps or other graphic aids may be attached.
- Notice that the agency has a written code of conduct/conflict of interest policy
- Notice that the agency has a dispute resolution policy

B. Assurances
- Per 45 C.F.R. §§400.5 (g), (h) and (i)

II. ASSISTANCE AND SERVICES

A. Coordination with other Resettlement Agencies, State Agencies, and Mutual Assistance Associations

- Description of how all activities of the project will be coordinated among resettlement agencies, state and county agencies, and service providers in the community
- Description of how clients will have access to other programs in the community, such as the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), child care services, and other support programs for working families and individuals

B. Coordination of Employment and ELT for RCA Clients

- Description of how the program will ensure that language training and employment services are made available to clients, specifically those who are receiving cash assistance

C. Refugee Cash Assistance

- RCA policies and procedures that include a description of the following:
a. Financial eligibility standard for initial and on-going eligibility and treatment of resources in accordance with 45 C.F.R. §400.58
b. Categorical eligibility for WF-RCA (singles, married couples, families)
c. Payment levels for case sizes 1-5 for RCA and comparison to the respective TANF rates
d. How benefit payments will be structured, including RCA differential payments to TANF-type refugees, employment incentives and/or  Income disregards to be used, if any, and methods of payment to be used, such as direct cash or vendor payments
e. If a differential RCA payment to TANF-type refugees is proposed in the application, a signed agreement between the WF Agency/SRC  office and the State TANF agency that supports the differential requirements outlined in these WF guidelines. In non-competing continuation years, a copy of the letter from the original application can be re-sent.
f. How ORR-eligible clients residing within the project area will have appropriate access to cash assistance and services
g. Sanctioning policy and procedures to ensure due process, such as the correction of underpayments and overpayments, notice of adverse action and the right to mediation (in the case of a failure to accept employability services), a predetermination hearing, and an appeal to an independent entity
h. Assurance that RCA will begin upon client agreement to participate in the program
i. Procedures for providing RCA to secondary migrants
j. Exemption criteria for employment and participation in employability service programs, and acceptance of appropriate offers of employment
k. The procedures to be used to safeguard the disclosure of information on clients
l. Policies and procedures regarding compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and as required by 45 CFR §§400.55 and 400.156 of the ORR regulations

D. Intensive Case Management for New Arrivals with Special Needs

- Description of services, target population(s), and number of projected recipients

E. Refugee Medical Assistance and Medical Screening (if part of WF Program)

- Description of the RMA/Medical Screening policies and procedures and services provided if funded under WF
- If provided outside of the WF program, a description of the process for referral and coordination with the administering state agency
F. Refugee Social Services
- Employability Services
Description of employment and other social services provided under the WF program, including skills training, orientation, recertification, translation and interpretation, child care, transportation, and citizenship and naturalization services
- English Language Training
Description of how English Language Training is provided, target population(s), and funding source(s)
- Case Management Services
Description of case management services for clients identified and determined as not needing Intensive Case Management, target population(s), and number of projected recipients
- Other Services for Clients, including any RSS set-asides
Description of services, target population(s), and number of projected recipients
- TAG
If the WF agency receives TAG formula funds, a description of how WF social services and TAG formula services complement each other

III. Program Performance:

A. Narrative discussion of performance:

- A description of the accomplishments relative to the goals, and the factors which contributed to or limited success
- A self-sufficiency goal that projects when clients will achieve self-sufficiency, based on earning a total family income at a level that enables a family unit to support itself without receipt of a cash assistance grant
- A description of the other benefits clients will realize as a result of the WF project, including enhanced acculturation and other social adjustment measures
- A description of how and what data will be collected and how this data will be used to analyze project results
- A description of the plan and schedule for project monitoring

IV. Budget and Budget Justification

Provide a budget with line-item detail and detailed calculations for each budget object class identified on the Budget Information Form (SF-424A). Detailed calculations must include estimation methods, quantities, unit costs, and other similar quantitative detail sufficient for the calculation to be duplicated. Specifically the WF-CMA budget must include:

- Assumptions about the length of time clients are expected to need that assistance (using a client loading chart is recommended to calculate these assumptions)
- Identification of RCA, RMA (if applicable), Intensive Case Management, and administrative costs/staffing pertaining to the provision of RCA and RMA (if applicable) and the overall role of coordinating the refugee program in the state/local geographic area
- If an RCA differential payment for TANF-type clients is proposed, clear delineation of those costs within the RCA budget
- Recipient information that includes the number of carryover clients from the prior year as well as those enrolled in the current fiscal year

V. Appendix

A. WF Service Providers, Funding, Resettlement Agencies, and Clients

  a. WF Service Providers
  (Lead agency and all providers unduplicated)

Name/Location WF-CMA $ 1/ WF-RSS $1/ Unduplicated WF Clients # 1/
       
       
       

1/ Include actual figures from June 2016 through May 2017

  b. Resettlement Agencies/Resettlement Sites:

Local Resettlement Agency National Resettlement Agency Location MG Available
(Yes or No)
       
       
       

 
c. Demographic Information:


  - Provide both projected and prior fiscal year number of arrivals by legal status (refugee, asylee, SIV, trafficking victim, Cuban/Haitian entrant, and secondary migrant), family composition, and assistance type for other programs (TANF, SSI, MG).

B. Resumes

- At the beginning of the project period, provide a biographical sketch or resume for each key person appointed. Resumes should be no more than two pages in length. Job descriptions for each vacant key position should be included as well. As new key staff members are appointed, biographical sketches or resumes will also be required.

C. Third-Party Agreements

- At the beginning of the project period, provide written and signed agreements between grantees and sub-grantees, subcontractors, or other cooperating entities. These agreements must detail the scope of work to be performed and other terms and conditions that structure or define the relationship. If new agreements are entered into or existing agreements change substantially, these agreements will also be required.


Footnotes:

1. Asylees admitted under section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act
2. Cuban and Haitian entrants under section 501 of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 (P. L. 96-422)
3. Certain Amerasians from Vietnam, including U.S. citizens, under title II of the Foreign
Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Acts, 1989 (P. L. 100-461), 1990 (P. L. 101-167), and 1991 (P. L. 101-513)
4. Victims of a Severe Form of Trafficking as required by section 107(b)(1)(A) of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 as amended (P. L. No. 106 -386) (22 U.S.C. § 7105(b)(1)(A). For details about these statuses, see ORR State Letter #00-17 and ORR State Letters #01-13 as modified by ORR State Letter #02-01, and ORR State Letter #04-12 on the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr
5. Special Immigrants (SIV) from Afghanistan and Iraq admitted under Section 525 of Title V of Division G of Public Law 110-161, "The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008" Sec. 1244 of Subtitle C of Title XII of Public Law 110-181, "The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008," "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009," Public Law 110-329, at Section 101 of Division A, Section 602 of Pub. L. No. 111-08, the "Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2009," Section 8120 of Pub. L. No. 111-118, "Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2010" (Dec. 19, 2009; 123 Stat. 3409)
6. Even though the focus of the WF program is the first eight months upon arrival, ORR-eligible clients remain eligible to receive Refugee Social Services for five years after their date of eligibility.
7. A Cuban or Haitian becomes a Cuban/Haitian Entrant on the date he/she is (1) granted parole, (2) placed in removal proceedings, or (3) has a pending application for asylum (whichever is first). See also ORR State Letter #10-03
8. The “traditional” State-administered program operates through the state welfare/TANF agency: the provision of RCA and referrals for employability services are all administered by the State.
9. Where a State and non-profit agency coordinate different aspects of a WF program, the entity responsible for the RSS grant must submit this plan of services and corresponding budget.
10. Verbal translation may also be allowable as an alternative to written translation – see Translation and Interpretation Services.
11. A privately administered WF program with State oversight of RMA only can request to administer medical screening through the WF-CMA discretionary program if it is not feasible for the State agency to administer medical screening.
12. The ORR regulations allow for exemptions from employment services in 45 C.F.R. §400.76.
13. This list of allowable services is in accordance with 45 C.F.R. 400.154.
14. This section (paragraphs a., b., d., e., and f.) only applies to WF programs that fall under the oversight of the SRC.
15. WF SRC must comply with Federal standards applicable to lobbying (see section 503(b) of Pub. L. 113-235).
16. WF programs that are administered by a State agency can follow their respective state procurement procedures. Also, general grant rules on procurement can be found at 45 C.F.R. §§ 75.327-335).

Last Reviewed: February 5, 2019