Nebraska will continue to serve families who are Nebraska residents and:
- Are composed of either one or two parents; or
- Specified relatives, conservator, or guardian; and
- Who are expecting their first child to be born within the next 90 days; or
- Who care for children under the age of 18; or
- Up to age 19 if still in secondary school or participating in Employment First after dropping out of school; and
- Whose family’s income and resources meet the current means test. (Page 773)
EMPLOYMENT FIRST PARTICIPATION
Nebraska has adopted the federal definition of work–eligible individuals. All individuals who are defined as a work–eligible individual are required to participate in the Employment First program.
Once a family applies for ADC cash assistance, all work–eligible individuals, unless they otherwise qualify for an exemption from Employment First, are referred to the Employment First program at the time of the intake interview. The work–eligible individual is required to complete an Employment First Self–Sufficiency Contract within five days of the referral and immediately engage in approved work activities.
Dependent children age 15 or younger (including an emancipated minor) and dependent children age 16, 17, or 18 who are full–time students regularly attending an elementary or secondary school or a dependent child age 16 or 17 who is a full–time student and regularly attending college, are not required to participate in the Employment First program. (Page 774)
The orientation is done as an introduction to the Employment First program and the comprehensive assets assessment. The orientation highlights the responsibilities that the client will be expected to fulfill if s/he becomes eligible for ADC cash assistance. The orientation also provides the participant with detailed information on all Employment First requirements, program expectations, participation options, services, and time limits. An assessment will be completed with each participant. The purpose of the assessment is to gather and organize information about the participant’s skills, aptitudes, strengths, interests, goals, prior work experience, family circumstances and employability. The assessment is an ongoing process. Reassessment occurs when a participant’s circumstances change, when s/he is not able to continue forward movement in the activities included in his/her Self–Sufficiency Contract, or at any time the case manager and/or the participant determines it is necessary.
Based on the results of the assessment, an individualized Self–Sufficiency Contract, which incorporates a detailed Service Plan, will be developed. The Contract will stress urgent action toward economic independence. It will outline and define both DHHS’ responsibility and the family’s responsibility. The Contract will be used as a flexible tool. If the participant is not achieving progress in his/her Contract, it will be evaluated and changed accordingly.
Supportive services will be provided to the extent determined necessary to permit the individual to participate in any Employment First approved work activity, including the administrative process of orientation, assessment, self–sufficiency planning, and Self–Sufficiency Contract development, if no other source is available. Case management and necessary supportive services may be provided for the duration of the client’s participation in all Employment First approved work activities and, if needed, after the loss of eligibility for ADC cash assistance due to earned income, and if the individual was either cooperating with or participating in Employment First at the time:
- Extended Employment First supportive can be provided for up to three months for all approved work activities included in his/her Self–Sufficiency Contract; and
- Transitional Employment First supportive services can be provided for up to six months if the supportive services are determined as necessary and critical for maintaining and/or retaining their employment. Page (775- 776)
- ADC cash assistance will be reduced by $50 for each dependent child who fails to attend school if the student’s parent has not taken reasonable steps to encourage the child to remain in school.
- Non–cooperation with Child Support Enforcement will result in a 25 percent reduction in the ADC cash payment and the removal of the sanctioned individual’s needs from the medical unit.
- Refusal to apply for potential income will result in the suspension or closure of the ADC case.
- Failure of a needy caretaker relative, guardian, or conservator to participate in the Employment First program results in the removal of the individual’s needs from the ADC unit. The sanction will last until the failure to participate ceases.
- Failure of a dependent child age 16, 17, or 18 to attend school without participating in any other Employment First approved work activity results in removal of the child’s needs from the ADC unit. The sanction will last until the failure to participate ceases.
- If the parent(s) fails to participate in the Employment First program, the result is the loss of ADC cash assistance for the entire family. The length of this sanction is: the first sanction will last one month or until the failure to cooperate ceases, whichever is longer. (Page 776)
As a condition of eligibility for ADC cash assistance, a client determined to be a work–eligible individual and subject to Employment First participation must complete his/her Employment First Self–Sufficiency Contract before the family can be determined eligible to receive ADC cash assistance. If a client does not cooperate in developing and completing an Employment First Self–Sufficiency Contract, the family is ineligible for ADC cash assistance. BENEFITS The maximum amount of ADC cash assistance provided will be $222 for the first person and $71 for each additional person included in the unit. The amount of the ADC cash payment to the household is determined by completing the following steps: (Page 786)
Employment First participants have the right to independent mediation if the participant is unhappy with a case manager’s action or inaction; or when DHHS has determined that the participant has not complied with the terms of the Self–Sufficiency Contract; or the participant contends that DHHS has not fulfilled its terms of the Self–Sufficiency Contract. The request for mediation must be requested within 90 days following the date the notice of adverse action is mailed. Requests for mediation requested within ten days following the date the notice of adverse action is mailed will stay the adverse action until a decision is reached through mediation. If the individual is unhappy with a case manager’s action or inaction, the individual has 30 days from the date of the case manager’s action or inaction or the date the individual became aware of the case manager’s action or inaction to request mediation. (Page 787)
Nebraska assists Employment First participants to train for, seek, and maintain employment providing direct care in long–term care facilities, and in other occupations related to elder care determined appropriate by the State for which the State identifies an unmet need for service personnel.
To help communities address the growing need for personnel in the eldercare and healthcare fields, where possible, the Employment First program will partner with community organizations, schools and businesses in developing and funding community responsive customized training for certified nursing assistants (CNA) and certified medication aides (CMA). Nebraska promotes and funds CNA and CMA training, for which state and federal financial aid is not available. Job skills training and vocational training in eldercare and healthcare occupations are approved work activities under the Employment First program. (788)
The following individuals are exempt from participating in Employment First and are exempt from the state and federal time limit for the length of time they qualify for the exemption:
- A person who:
- Has an illness or injury serious enough to temporarily prevent entry into employment or participating in another Employment First component activity for up to three months;
- Is incapacitated with a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which, by itself or in conjunction with age, prevents the individual from engaging in employment or participating in another Employment First component activity and which is expected to exist for a continuous period of at least three months.
- A person age 65 or older.
- A parent who is needed in the home on a continuous basis to provide care for a disabled family member living in the home who does not attend school on a full–time basis and no other appropriate member of the household is available to provide the needed care.
- A victim of domestic violence and where participation in Employment First approved work activities would make it more difficult for the individual to escape violence, or unfairly penalize the individual, or would put the individual at risk of further domestic violence.
- A single custodial parent who is unable to participate because s/he cannot obtain child care for his/her child age five or younger for one or more of the following reasons:
- Unavailability of appropriate child care within a reasonable distance from the client’s home or work site;
- Unavailability or unsuitability of informal child care by a relative or under other arrangements; or
- Unavailability of appropriate and affordable formal child care arrangements. (Page 789)
- Extended supportive services: Supportive services determined necessary to participate in all approved Employment First activities included in a participant’s Self–Sufficiency Contract may be provided for up to three months, if needed, after the loss of eligibility for ADC cash assistance due to earned income.
- Transitional supportive services: Supportive services determined necessary and critical for job retention may be provided for up to six months, if needed, after the loss of eligibility for ADC cash assistance due to earned income.
- Administrative Expenses: Nebraska expends funds to administer Nebraska’s assistance programs. These administrative costs support staff and necessary overhead. These qualifying state expenditures are developed through our Cost Allocation Plan.
- Information Systems Expenses: Nebraska expends funds to provide information systems to provide needed information to staff regarding eligibility, client activities, cash payments and services for families receiving assistance. These qualifying state expenditures are developed through our Cost Allocation Plan. (Page 791-792)