Section 817 - Employment and Training
Q. 1997 Employment & Training (E&T) Plans include inadequate child care as an exemption. However, legislation (provision 815) deletes lack of adequate child care as an explicit good cause exemption for refusal to meet work requirements. Does provision 815 preclude States from using inadequate child care as an E&T exemption?
A. The language of the new law (815) eliminated the previous language concerning lack of adequate child care as a good cause for refusing an offer of employment. However, the statute gives the Department the authority to determine the meaning of good cause for section 6(d). Provision 817 deals specifically with E&T requirements and removes specific Federal rules as to States' authority to exempt categories of individuals and individuals from E&T requirements. In short, States may elect to establish an E&T exemption for individuals for lack of adequate child care as a part of their E&T plan.
Q. What is a Statewide workforce development system and are States required to operate the E&T program through a Statewide workforce system?
A. A Statewide workforce development system is defined by the State. Characteristics of such a system are that it usually offers employment services which may include working with individuals to remove barriers to employment, employment matching, vocational and technical education/training, etc. The law requires that the E&T program be delivered through such a system, if the system is available locally.
Q. Will the requirement that States submit E&T plans for FNS approval continue?
A. Yes, the requirement will remain and FNS' Regional offices (ROs) will continue to receive and have authority to approve State E&T plans. Currently, FY97 plans are under review and ROs will direct requests to States asking for plan updates that are reflective of the Act.
Q. Would the 50% funding permitted by the Act for self-sufficiency related case management be budgeted and accounted separately from other E&T related administrative costs?
A. No, such initiatives and activities should be included in the standard reporting of administrative costs.
Q. Legislation now requires States to "promptly notify" USDA if the allocated E&T funds will not be entirely expended. How is "promptly notify" defined?
A.. Currently the phrase "promptly notify" is undefined. However, it will be defined in new regulations. Until regulations are published States should assume that they are to notify USDA as soon as they become aware that allotted funds will not be fully expended.
Q. Will the FNS-583 still be required? If so, will it require any modification under legislation?
A. The requirement that States collect and report E&T data remains. This information is used for statistical purposes and to establish States' annual grant amounts. The methodology for such collection will be specified in regulations. If the FNS-583 is continued, revision would be necessary to capture information not currently included (i.e., for instance, number of ABAWDS).
Q. The legislation removed the requirement that E&T placements be restricted to employment that meets a public purpose. What does this achieve since placements to private concerns were previously allowed?
A. Legislation is silent on the specific of public purpose. However, the general consensus pertaining to self-sufficiency and welfare-to-work is that all employment--private or public--services a public purpose.
Q. The provision limits the E&T funding for services to title IV-A recipients to the amount used by the State for AFDC recipients in fiscal year 1995. Will States be advised of the limit or will States advise FNS of the limit?
A. This limit should be provided by the States in their revised E&T plans. FNS Regional offices will work with States to acquire this information.
Q. Will the existing $25 per month E&T transportation reimbursement limit be increased for Federal reimbursement purposes?
A. No. The Federal government will continue to reimburse State agencies 50 percent of their total participant transportation reimbursement costs, up to a total amount of $25 per participant per month.
Q. PRWORA specifies that able-bodied adults without dependent children (ABAWDs) can meet the work requirement if they participate in and comply with the requirements of a program under section 20 of the Food Stamp Act or a comparable program established by a State or political subdivision of a State. Would a workfare component under E&T be considered "comparable"?
A. Yes. ABAWDs can meet the work requirement if they participate in and comply with the requirements of a program under section 20 of the Food Stamp Act or a comparable program established by a State or political subdivision of a State.
Q. How does the workfare component under E&T differ from section 20 workfare?
A. If workfare is operated as part of a State’s E&T program, it is included as a component in the State agency’s E&T Plan. The administrative costs of a workfare component may be funded by the State agency’s 100% E&T grant, and component participants are entitled to reimbursements of participant expenses and dependent care expenses, up to the maximum levels established in regulations.
An optional workfare program (independent of the State’s E&T program) may be operated by a State, as well as a local entity. The local entity is not required to work through the State agency to operate a workfare program. The State or local agency must submit a workfare plan to FNS for approval. FNS will fund 50 percent of agency’s administrative costs incurred in operating an optional workfare program, including a participant reimbursement up to $25 per month for any transportation and/or other costs directly related to program participation.
Q. Are TANF recipients permitted to participate in workfare and can their status be designated as mandatory?
A. TANF recipients exempt from food stamp work registration because they are subject to the work requirements under title IV of the Social Security Act will be subject to workfare under section 20 of the Food Stamp Act if they are currently involved less than 20 hours a week in title IV work activities. Those recipients involved 20 hours a week or more may be subject to workfare at the option of the State agency or the political subdivision operating the workfare program. A TANF recipient may be exempt from workfare on the basis of other exemptions, such as responsibility for a child under six years of age.
Q. Can a State with a large ABAWD population exercise its option to exempt individuals or categories of (non-ABAWD) individuals from E&T in order to make more slots available to the ABAWDs?
A. PRWORA removed specific Federal restrictions on States’ authority to exempt categories of individuals and individuals from E&T requirements. States are free to exempt whoever they choose from E&T. The only condition to this liberty is that exemptions be "periodically evaluated" for validity.
Q. PRWORA mandates that USDA define the meaning of voluntary quit. How should voluntary quit be considered and treated in the interim?
A. State agencies should continue to comply with current rules.
Q. PRWORA limits E&T funding for services to title IV-A recipients to the amount used by the State for AFDC recipients in FY 95. When does the funding limit become effective and what source will be used to determine the amount used by the State for AFDC recipients in FY 95?
A. The funding limitation provision was signed into law on August 22, 1996, effective October 1, 1996. The rules and procedures for verifying FY 95 title IV-A spending levels and for tracking current FY expenditures will be established in the proposed rule. In the interim, guidance for establishing base FY 95 expenditures and for on-going State data gathering and reporting requirements was issued to FNS regional offices, for transmission to States, on December 31, 1996.
Q. PRWORA removes the requirements for E&T performance standards which have traditionally been tied to funding awards. How will future funding amounts be determined?
A. The formula for allocating the annual Federal 100% E&T grant has not yet been determined. However, the Act requires that the formula give consideration to the ABAWD population.
Q. Will the form 583 be amended to specifically capture ABAWD participation?
A. We anticipate that there will be a need to capture ABAWD participation data; however, the mechanism for this data collection is yet to be determined.
Q. PRWORA allows States the option to extend disqualifications for failure to perform actions required by other means-tested programs to the FSP. Would this allow a TANF sanction (due to non-compliance with OJT) to be applied to food stamps, if there is no OJT component under the FSET component?
A. The Food Stamp Act requires that a non-exempt TANF recipient who fails to comply with a title IV work requirement be treated the same as if he or she failed to comply with a food stamp work requirement. Thus, if an individual is disqualified from participation in TANF for noncompliance with OJT, that individual must be sanctioned according to food stamp disqualification requirements, depending on the frequency of the occurrence.