2.2 Support Services
The Support Services section includes:
- 2.2.1 What are support services?
- 2.2.2 What is the purpose of support services?
- 2.2.3 What are the support service limits?
- 2.2.4 Are there any restrictions on support services?
- 2.2.5 How do I encourage independence?
- 2.2.6 Should support services be authorized?
- 2.2.7 When should support services be denied?
- 2.2.8 How do I request an Exception to Rule?
- 2.2.9 Support services - Step-by Step Guide
2.2.1 What are Support Services?
Support services are goods and services purchased to help parents become independent. We offer support services when there is no other way to meet a family's essential needs - so be creative while using sound judgment to determine what is reasonable. For example, a person starting work may need work clothes. We can use support services to increase a parent's existing wardrobe so the parent can show up for work in suitable clothing.
We offer temporary and targeted supports a parent needs to work, look for work, prepare for work, or to participate in required WorkFirst activities. Support services are available, as needed, throughout a person's time on WorkFirst cash assistance.
Support services are also available to:
- Parents who are curing sanction.
- Ineligible minor parents who are working with the social service specialist to either enroll in school as required or move to an acceptable living arrangement.
- Teens 17 and 18 years old in a WorkFirst Activity (school clothes are not a needed item for support services).
WorkFirst Program Specialists, Job Services Specialists and Community Jobs (CJ) contractors can authorize support services.
2.2.2 What is the purpose of Support Services
The purpose of WorkFirst support services is to offer a resource for parents who are actively engaged in job search or work activities. Some support services are also available to parents if they have a need while they are participating in other activities, but the main focus is employment and advancing in employment. The support service chart in WAC 388-310-0800 shows the support services categories and when they can be offered.
Support services should be provided based on the real and immediate needs of the parent. The category recommendations should not be considered an entitled amount, but are the suggested limits the program can provide in any given category of support service. Do not automatically issue the maximum dollar amount for the support service. Issue the least amount needed to meet the parents need. The main focus for support services is to subsidize parents' efforts toward finding employment, remaining employed and advancing into better employment.
2.2.3 What are the support service limits?
There is a $3,000 yearly limit for each individual in the family - although some services do not count towards the yearly limit. There are hard edits in eJAS for the annual limit, meaning the eJAS system will not allow payments exceeding this limit. There is also additional information in the "Support Services Availability by eJAS Component" chart.
"Use limits" include:
- Work: Supports needed to work, look for work, or function in a workplace (like community jobs, OJT, or work experience).
- Health/safety: Transportation supports needed to deal with significant family health or safety needs (like getting a household member with severe disabilities to doctor appointments or dealing with family violence).
- Participation: A few types of support services can be authorized to help the parent prepare for work or meet other WorkFirst requirements.
The amount of support services authorized must be based on the parent's needs and must stay within the program limits. The only possible exceptions to the limit are when a parent has a crisis situation (like fleeing domestic violence) or a unique and justifiable need that can be approved through the formal exception to rule process. The process for requesting an exception to rule is described in its own subsection below (Exception to Rule).
The Support Services Directory lists the suggested use and dollar limits for each service.
2.2.4 Are there any restrictions on support services?
Some items can never be purchased with Support Services. They include:
- Motor vehicles,
- Court-imposed fines,
- Loan payments.
- Services normally provided by state employees such as job placement or,
- Items that the participant's Medicaid benefits will cover.
As shown on the chart below, the types of services you can authorize also vary depending on the person's WorkFirst status.
|Authorizing Support Services|
|WorkFirst Cash Assistance Applicants||
Supports directly related to job search or to enable the parent to accept a job are allowed if the parent is:
|WorkFirst Cash Assistance Recipients|
Authorize support services the parent needs to meet a temporary emergency so s/he can continue to look for, prepare for, or obtain work, or progress on the job. Examples include meeting the initial costs of employment, transportation, counseling, or skills training.
How do I encourage independence?
WorkFirst has a limited amount of resources that can be used as a supplement to the parent's own resources, and other available resources. This approach means that support services can be used as a teaching tool to help participants understand what they will need to transition off WorkFirst. As needed supports are issued, participants will also benefit from talking through:
- How to use what they have on hand
- How to budget their income
- How to create contingency plans
- How to plan for future expenses
- Identifying what specific needs they plan to cover through increased wages
WorkFirst staff will combine the parent's resources with what the program can provide. For example, if a parent has a car repair need that will cost $700 so she can keep her job, the participant and the worker may find out from the vendor how much of the cost could be financed over time if the program paid for a large portion of the repair up front.
In the same way, WorkFirst can supplement the parent's clothing, hygiene items, transportation costs and so on, but should not be considered the only source to cover the costs. WorkFirst is there to help when the participant needs a hand, but should encourage the parent to become increasingly self-reliant with a goal of complete and lasting independence.
Services provided after the parent is working should be considered transitional in nature, to assist the parents when they need it. Again, the goal is to provide temporary help that meets their need, adds to their coping skills, and fosters the parent's growing sense of independence.
2.2.6 Should support services be authorized?
It is important to talk to the parent about the purposes of support services when they have a request. Support services are authorized to meet temporary, targeted needs and get people started towards independence. They are also a valuable and limited resource that needs to be conserved so they can be used wisely.
As you talk to parents about support services, you need to ask a few questions before you can decide whether to approve the request. Questions to ask include:
- Is the support service essential to move them towards employment or independence?
- What resources can they quickly bring to the table?
- How much do they need to reserve to cover their needs for the rest of the year?
- What is readily available from their community?
- Is there a lower cost alternative available?
- How do they plan to take over ongoing costs in the future?
As you explore whether the parent can use other resources to meet their need - do not hold off on authorizing needed supports until you explore every possible alternative. The intent is to use other resources that are readily at hand in place of support services when possible. For example, if you know that a community agency can supply work clothes, call them and set that up instead of authorizing support services. If, on the other hand, you do not know of a specific resource, use support services to cover the need.
Remember, support services are not meant to be an ongoing supplement if there are other sources. It may often make sense to deny requests, authorize less than originally requested, or find another way to meet the need or part of the need.
2.2.7 When should support services be denied?
We deny requests for support services when they are not needed to meet an appropriate purpose, the request exceeds the annual limit, or the parent can meet the need in another way. When we deny these requests, we need to:
- Document the denial in eJAS,
- Tell the parent why the request was denied,
- Give the parent a copy of the support services card, and
- Make sure the parent knows that a fair hearing can be requested.
It is particularly important to document support service denials in eJAS. That way, if a parent requests a fair hearing later on - we will have the information we need to justify the denial and process their request.
2.2.8 How do I request an Exception to Rule?
When necessary, you can request an exception to rule to exceed the support services annual limit. This is a formal exception request process where headquarters staff makes the final decision. These exceptions will only be considered when the parent's situation differs from the majority and has a significant impairment or limitation that is not addressed by current limits. Please explain to the parent that when you submit these requests there is no guarantee that they will be approved by state office.
To request an exception to rule, the WFPS must complete the Barcode ETR request process. For complete instructions on processing an exception to rule request:
- For DSHS, the EA-Z Manual provides more details.
- For Employment Security Department (ESD) workers, follow the procedure as outlined in the Internal Controls Manual (found under the HELP tab in CATS) and use the DSHS-05-010(X) Exception to Rule form.
- For CJ providers, please refer to your Department of Commerce CJ contract.
When a parent has an emergency situation that seriously jeopardizes family health or safety, you can ask your supervisor to authorize emergency supports to exceed the annual limit. This option is really reserved for families who face imminent harm and need active crisis intervention, like covering gas and relocation costs for a family actively fleeing domestic violence. Your supervisor will be able to call in these emergency requests to state office for an immediate decision, or, if need be, authorize supports via an A-19 and get the exception approved by headquarters after the fact.
2.2.9 Support Services - Step-by-Step Guide
For complete eJAS directions please go to the eJAS Support Service Handbook.
- The WFPS/SW or ESD employment services counselor:
- Determines needed support services based on the activities in the IRP.
- Reviews past support services authorized by ESD, DSHS, or Commerce to ensure no duplication of supports.
- Determines the best and/or lowest-cost alternative. (For example, we suggest getting two estimates for car repair.)
- Discusses with the client the best option to provide services and vendors, and whether a voucher or pre-paid merchant card, better fits their needs. (Based on the determined need, explain the process of how the services will be issued; i.e prepaid merchant card or voucher.)
- Authorizes and issues support service payments, following your local office procedure, including:
- Obligating funds;
- Creating vouchers or issuing pre-paid merchant cards;
- Making support service payments;
- Creating advance payments in emergency situations for gasoline vouchers to local gas stations or issuing the appropriate pre-paid merchant cards; and,
- Obtaining the appropriate approval.
- Getting receipts and/or vendor signatures and adequate supporting documentation.
- Documents the reasons for selecting and authorizing support services:
- In eJAS under the support services notes section; and,
- (DSHS only) In the case record (including copies of verification used in the decision making).
- De-obligates the funds and cancels the voucher if the person does not use the support services voucher within a reasonable amount of time.
- If the pre-paid merchant card is not picked up within 10 business days from the issuance date, the pending request should be cancelled.
- To create a purchase authorization/voucher:
- Enter detailed information on the voucher, stating what is being purchased and the cost of each individual item (e.g. "Car repair - For repair of the transmission on 1987 Buick LeSabre).
- Emboss the voucher with the WorkFirst seal, which tells the vendor the document is an original. The voucher is “invalid unless embossed”.
- For ESD, please refer to the Internal Controls Manual.
- Commerce Program providers, refer to your Commerce WorkFirst Contract
- Supervisor , and
In the event you cannot obtain the client’s signature, and all efforts have been made to secure the signature, the issuing WFPS/SW will:
- Document the attempts in eJAS notes,
- Write on the voucher (client signature line) “see eJAS notes dated mm/dd/yy” for an explanation of attempts made, and submit the voucher for payment
The following procedures are for DSHS.
- To create a travel advance voucher or an advance to a vendor for gas:
- Give the participant the WorkFirst Travel and Attendance form, DSHS 07-073(X) .
- Instruct the parent to keep a detailed record of miles traveled for the WorkFirst activity(s).
- Inform the parent that the advance will be automatically deducted from the next travel payment.
- To purchase services or items from a single vendor for multiple participants (such as bus passes)
- Use a bulk purchase log to attribute the individual costs to the appropriate parents; and,
- A voucher for bulk purchases.
Some vendors, such as Department of Licensing (DOL), will not accept a voucher:
- ESD workers, please follow the procedure as outlined in the Internal Controls Manual found under the HELP tab in CATS.
- CJ providers, please refer to your Commerce CJ contract.
WFCM/SSS please follow the steps outlined below.
There are two options available to make payments to these vendors:
- Have the vendor entered into the system with the ESA HQ FISCAL, P.O. BOX 45445, OLYMPIA WA 98504-5445) address as the mailing address
- Create the voucher and scan and e-mail a copy to Angela Bridges at ESA HQ.This will create a warrant that will be mailed to the office. It will take 10-14 business days for the warrant to be returned to the CSO. When the warrant arrives, have the parent sign the voucher as a receipt for the warrant. The parent then uses the warrant to pay for the service. NOTE: For the reduced cost Washington State Identification card, follow the process above, and complete the DSHS Form 16-029
- Create a voucher and complete an A-19A. You can find a copy of the DSHS A-19A form and a sample completed form in the resource section below.
- Have the parent sign the voucher and give the parent the original A-19A.
- Attach the copy of the A-19A to the back of the voucher for documentation.
- The parent takes the A-19A and the voucher to the vendor for payment for the service.
- The vendor will send the A-19A and voucher to ESA HQ FISCAL for processing and payment.
- Client Reimbursement: If the worker agrees ahead of time, the parent can pay the bill and be reimbursed for the expense. The parent is made a vendor and the check is directed to the office and the parent signs the Voucher as proof of receipt of the warrant.
Please note: If you process more than one voucher in a batch for the same vendor, payments will be combined into one warrant and the vendor may have problems knowing where to credit the payment. For any assistance with the correct vendor ID, contact Angela Bridges at ESA HQ Fiscal.
What should you do to use this year's allocation before the end of the program year on June 30?
Follow the instruction below:
- Before or on June 30:
- Give the voucher to the family member.
- Receive the purchase or service.
Beginning August 1, 2012, until further notice, transportation bulk purchases may not be made by any office or region without prior approval from ESA HQ Fiscal.
The following is the approval process for CSO bulk purchases:
- CSO will submit the request to the Regional WorkFirst Coordinator for WorkFirst Support Services, and/or the Social Services Coordinator for ABD or MCS with the following information:
- Program (i.e. WorkFirst or ABD or MCS)
- Type of the bulk purchase (i.e. bus passes or tickets)
- Item amount of the purchase (i.e. number of passes or tickets)
- Regional Coordinator reviews request to verify that the CSO meets the purchasing guidelines information to the ESA HQ Fiscal using the following email: PrepaidMerchantCards@dshs.wa.gov.
- ESA HQ Fiscal makes the determination and notifies the appropriate Regional Coordinator. The Coordinator will notify the CSO of the approval or denial of the purchase.
After the CSO has received approval, the CSO will use tracking log when issuing bus tickets, bus passes and other transportation negotiable to a client. The tracking log will need to be included with the monthly CSO Negotiable Inventory Reports sent to ESA HQ Fiscal
- Create voucher for purchase.
- Receive the bulk purchase merchandise.
Obligate mileage reimbursement to the family member if the mileage form is turned into be processed for payment.
If the reimbursement form is turned in after June 30, process the payment for the previous for the previous program year.Payments
- Process as usual
- Batches are not processed on June 28, 29, and 30.
- All payments use this year's allocation.
- If the family member did not use the voucher until July
- Create a new voucher for the new program year.
- Attach the returned voucher for payment to the new voucher.
Prepaid Merchant Cards
- If the family member did not pick up the pre-paid cards until July, cancel the pending authorization, and reissue the cards if appropriate.
If the goods are received in July then the voucher must be redone using the new program year.
If the service or purchase was done before July 1 then process the payment using last year's funds.
Regions should add $10,000 to each offices Allocation for the new program year.
Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections
- 2.1 Supports - Overview
- 6.1 Resolving Issues
- 8.1 Paid & Unpaid Employment
- Support Services Directory
- "Support Services Availability by eJAS Component" chart
- Payment Schedule for SSI Applicants
- Support Services Log