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3.6 Non-compliance Sanction Policy

Legal References:

The Non-Compliance Sanction Policy section is divided in three separate sub-sections:

3.6.2 Ending Sanction

3.6.2.1 What happens after a case is placed in sanction?

The non-compliance sanction policy is designed to provide numerous opportunities for the parent(s) to re-engage in appropriate WorkFirst activities and address any barriers to participation. For best results, staff should intervene early and take any opportunity to contact the people who are in non-compliance with their WorkFirst requirements. Once the sanction decision is approved, continue to attempt to work with the person to cure their sanction.
Once a person enters month two of sanction, send their case to a supervisor to review to ensure the adverse action letter was correct and that we have attempted to re-engage the person . The supervisor (or designee) will decide whether the case is approved for termination. Continue to attempt reengagement each month until the sanction is lifted, cured or the case closes.

The information in this section should only be followed after a case has been placed in sanction status following the procedures in section 3.6.1-Entering Sanction. If the supervisor or designee approves case closure, we will close the case after the person has been in sanction for 4 months in a row.

3.6.2.2 What are the CE & IRP requirements for sanctioned persons?

Every sanctioned person must complete the Sanction Re-engagement portion of the CE after entering sanction status. The Sanction Re-engagement portion of the CE ensures the sanctioned person and their families are in the most appropriate activities to meet their needs and to help them move out of sanction.

The Sanction Re-engagement CE is a series of six questions to discuss how the person will successfully cure their sanction.  It also screens for changes that may affect the person’s ability to participate.

CE process:

The person does not require a special "sanction IRP" just because they have entered sanction. Everyone participating in the WorkFirst program is required to have a current IRP based upon his or her activities. If someone enters sanction status, the IRP should reflect the activities not done without good cause. The person must complete a CE and comply with their existing IRP requirements to cure the sanction.

When the person agrees to cure the sanction, update the IRP with current dates and any new activities needed to meet any new circumstances, including any activities recommended by the Sanction Re-engagment CE interview.

3.6.2.3 How does a person cure a sanction?

Once the sanction decision has been approved, a person must start and continue to do the required WorkFirst activities to cure the sanction. This holds true even if the person was originally sanctioned for failure to provide information or for refusing to accept a job. An individual must do what is in her or his IRP when the sanction decision was made, unless circumstances change and the IRP is modified (including any changes made as a result of the Sanction Re-engagment CE interview).

The length of time required to end a sanction is referred to as the "cure period". The cure period starts on the day the person completes their Sanction Re-engagment CE interview and agrees to their IRP activities. To cure the sanction, the sanctioned individual must participate for 4 weeks (28 days) in a row. After four weeks of satisfactory participation, the sanction is removed effective the first of the following month. This same process is used for each subsequent sanction.

3.6.2.4 How might changes in circumstances change a person’s grant, IRP or cure requirements?

If circumstances change, a person's grant, IRP and/or cure requirements may change.

Examples: A woman is sanctioned for refusing to do job search. Below are three different circumstances with the appropriate response for each.

3.6.2.5 What is the process for referring cases for NCS termination?

Once the parent enters month two of sanction:

If the supervisor agrees that the case is appropriate for termination, then the parent’s case will be closed after month four of sanction.
3.6.2.6 When do I withdraw cases referred for NCS case closure?

You can withdraw a case that has already been referred to the supervisor/designee for NCS case closure only on a limited exception basis. The table below outlines what constitutes an appropriate reason for withdrawal:


What if circumstances change after I refer a case for NCS case closure?

Cases that may be removed

Cases that cannot be removed

Parent cured the sanction
Sanction lifted (e.g., unaddressed barriers discovered; parent now exempt from WorkFirst activities)
Cases referred too early (in Month 1of sanction)

Closed cases

3.6.2.7 When do I refer cases for NCS case closure that are due to close for other reasons?

A sanctioned parent may request termination or the case may be closed for other reasons at any time during the non-compliance sanction process. Staff may need to follow through with a referral for NCS termination even when a sanctioned parent's case is closed.

Refer all cases for NCS case closure in Month 2 or more of sanction, even if the case is due to close for another reason. The resulting decision will not be applied unless and until the parent reapplies and is found eligible for TANF/SFA benefits.

If the NCS process is ended due to case closure, and the sanctioned person reapplies for WorkFirst cash assistance, the case will be reopened in sanction status with the appropriate month count. When you reopen the case, add information to the award letter to let the parent know when the case is scheduled to terminate if the parent does not participate as required for four weeks in a row. The CSO will need to continue to attempt to re-engage the person.

Example:

October is month 2 of sanction, the parent has completed a non-compliance sanction case staffing, and the case closes for another reason effective 11/1. The case is sent to the supervisor and the recommendation to terminate the case is upheld.

The person reapplies and is approved effective December 1. The case is reopened in Month 3 of sanction. Add to the award letter that the case is scheduled to terminate effective 1/31 unless the person participates as required for 4 weeks in a row.

3.6.2.8 How do I monitor cases referred for NCS termination in eJAS?

Staff will be able to monitor cases for completion of the tool via the “Clients in Sanction” report.

CSO staff is responsible for monitoring the Clients in Sanction report which is accessed from the Caseload Management Report. The report will be updated with the termination approval when the supervisor or designee approves termination. When the decision is first made, it is bolded until the worker reviews the decision from the Clients in Sanction report.

3.6.2.9 What if a supervisor approves a case for closure?

The supervisor or designee enters their decision in the NCS eJAS tool by selecting “Yes” under question 19 and "Submit NCS Decision". The WFPS or WFSSS will view the decision in the ‘Clients in Sanction’ report.

The WFPS or Financial Services Specialist closes the WorkFirst cash assistance by:

Staff must also make sure that the family receives other types of public assistance benefits they may qualify for, like Basic Food or Washington Apple Health. Encourage persons who file a fair hearing and requests continued benefits to re-apply and meet participation requirements in case they lose the hearing.

3.6.2.10 What if a sanction lasts longer than four months?

If a sanction goes beyond 4 months, input the appropriate "delay reason" code on the ACES WORK screen. For example:

3.6.2.11 What if a supervisor disagrees with the recommendation for case closure?

If the supervisor disagrees with the recommendation case closure, they may select “NO” under question 19 of the NCS eJAS tool and then “Save/Refer to Case Manager”. This will send the case back to the case manager to review and correct. The case manager can make necessary corrections and send the case back for a decision. If the sanction is invalid or the good cause/NCS case staffing was not followed correctly, the supervisor can select “NO” and “Submit NCS Decision” to deny case closure and close out the tool.

CSO Staff Actions

NCS Denials

Reason Denied

Examples

Required Case Action

Invalid Sanction

The person:

  • Didn’t know what their IRP required
  • Was sanctioned for an activity not in their IRP
  • Had unaddressed barriers to participation
  • Reported a barrier and we failed to respond
  • Had good cause for failure to participate
  • End the sanction
  • Restore lost benefits

Invalid good cause/NCS case staffing

  • Inadequate or untimely notice for the good cause/NCS case staffing appointment
  • Case staffing done incorrectly (such as one person did the staffing and made the decision)
  • CA involvement, but failed to invite CA
  • Failure to do a Child Safety Review (or send out material to no-shows)
  • End the sanction, explaining we are reinstating full benefits until we resolve a procedural error
  • Restore lost benefits
  • Restart the sanction process

Inadequate adverse action notice

  • Didn’t state who didn’t comply
  • Didn’t adequately describe what wasn’t done
  • Didn’t state what the penalties are and when they will begin
  • Lift sanction
  • Restore lost benefits
  • Re-impose sanction beginning at month 1
  • Send corrected adverse action notice
3.6.2.12 How do I resolve procedural issues & reapply sanction penalties?

This process is used when a case was sanctioned in error.

3.6.2.13 What happens when a person is closed for NCS for the third time?

When a personís case closes that has been terminated for NCS three times, that person is permanently disqualified from receiving TANF/SFA benefits. In addition, the disqualified personís household is ineligible to receive TANF/SFA benefits while the person lives in the home. For more information about permanent TANF disqualification, please refer to section 3.6.4 Ė Permanent TANF Disqualification.

3.6.2.14 Ending Sanction - Step-by-Step Guide

Note: The NCS process and automated supports track each specific incidence of non-participation. If you consider sanction again based on another incidence of non-participation, you must conduct new appointments and create a separate NCS eJAS tool.

When a sanctioned person agrees to participate to cure the sanction:

  1. Complete the Sanction Re-engagement CE interview.
  2. Open the appropriate components(s) in eJAS (but keep the SA or SN code in place).
  3. Authorize any needed support services or child care and update the IRP.
  4. After 4 weeks of satisfactory participation is verified:
    1. Remove the sanction coding RE or SN on the WORK screen in ACES and enter an MP. Enter the sanction cure date in the ‘CA Re-qualifying Date’ field.
    2. For parents who have been on WorkFirst for 60 months or more, change the ACES TWEP Screen from category 3 to category 1 or 2.
    3. Remove the SA or SN code from eJAS by entering the CS closing code.
  1. Once a case reaches month 2 or 3 of sanction, the WFPS/SW will:
    1. Review the NCS eJAS tool for accuracy and completeness.
    2. Complete NCS eJAS tool question 18 and:
      1. If yes, enter the appropriate months and year benefits have been reduced by WorkFirst sanction (maximum entry is 4 months).
      2. If no, enter the date sanction was cured or lifted.
    3. Summarize recent case history since sanction was imposed and provide additional comments of attempts to re-engage.
    4. Enter ‘Save/Complete’ to place the case on the eJAS Clients Awaiting Sanction/Term/Recon Approval report, which forwards the NCS case closure recommendation to the supervisor/designee.
    5. Monitor the eJAS Clients in Sanction report for the supervisor/designee decision.
    6. Continue monthly re-engagement contact with person.
  2. The CSO supervisor/designee routinely monitors the eJAS Clients Awaiting Sanction/Term/Recon Approval report for new NCS case closure recommendations. Once a referral is received, the supervisor/designee will:
    1. Review the NCS eJAS tool questions 17 and 18 to ensure:
      1. The adverse action letter was sent correctly.
      2. Entries are accurate and documentation is thorough.
      3. There is no issue with returned mail (IRP, eJAS appointment letters, AOL 85-01, or AOL 08-01).
    2. Complete question 19 of the NCS eJAS tool with decision.
      1. A denial will:
        1. Return the case to the WFPS/SW to allow for corrections, if necessary, and resubmitted with appropriate signatures, or
        2. Close the NCS eJAS tool. When this happens, the WFPS/SW will lift sanction and restore benefits for invalid sanctions.
      2. An approval will terminate TANF after month 4 of sanction.
      3. Entry of additional comments is optional and should be brief.
  3. The WFPS/SW monitors the eJAS Clients in Sanction report for supervisor/designee decision.
    1. Upon notification that the supervisor/designee has approved the NCS case closure decision in the NCS eJAS tool, the WFPS/SW will:
      1. Continue monthly re-engagement contact with the individual.
      2. After the individual has received 4 consecutive months of sanction, close the WorkFirst cash assistance by:
        1. Entering a “Y” in the “Close AU Due to NCS” field on the WORK screen in ACES. The case will close for reason code 252.
        2. Sending a separate adverse action notice following the adverse action rules in the EAZ Manual and adding the following information:
          1. What the person failed to do to justify the sanction status.
          2. How to reapply for benefits and informs the person of the 4-week participation period to receive cash.
        3. Ensuring the family receives information about other types of public assistance benefits they qualify for, like Basic Food or Washington Apple Health.
        4. Encouraging persons who file a fair hearing and request continued benefits to re-apply and meet participation requirements in case they lose the hearing.

If the supervisor or designee does not agree with the recommendation for case closure and denies case closure:

  1. The WFPS/SW may request a reconsideration of the decision by:
    1. completing the “Request for NCS Reconsideration” section of the tool;
    2. Entering text stating the reason for the reconsideration request;
    3. Selecting “Save/Complete” to forward the request for reconsideration to the supervisor or designee.
  2. The supervisor or designee will be notified of the reconsideration request under the “Clients Awaiting Sanction/Termination/Recon Approval” report. When the supervisor receives a reconsideration request, he or she will:
    1. Contact the Regional WorkFirst Coordinator if there are any questions regarding the reconsideration;
    2. Enter the reconsideration decision under the “Reconsideration Decision” section of the NCS eJAS tool.
      1. Entering “No” denies the cash termination and permanently completes the NCS eJAS tool.
      2. Entering “Yes” approves cash termination.
    3. If denying the reconsideration, select up to 3 denial reason codes and enter text describing the reason he or she disagrees with the recommendation to terminate the case, including what non-compliance sanction criteria was not met.
    4. Enter “Submit NCS Decision” once the review is complete.

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