3.9.3 WorkFirst Quality Assurance

The WorkFirst Quality Assurance section includes:

  • 3.9.3.1 What is WorkFirst Quality Assurance?
  • 3.9.3.2 What are data accuracy initiatives?
  • 3.9.3.3 How will we do case reviews?
  • 3.9.3.4 What is the WorkFirst Participation Review Committee?

3.9.3.1 What is WorkFirst Quality Assurance?

The federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) requires States to accurately report actual hours of WorkFirst participation. States must also establish a system of internal controls to make sure they find and fix any systematic errors in the participation data they report to the federal government.

The federal government will do its own audits as well. States that are found substantially out of compliance with meeting federal participation verification requirements may lose up to five percent of their federal block grant.

WorkFirst Quality Assurance is a partnership effort to examine how well we are doing with implementing WorkFirst Forward and to create joint plans for any needed corrective action. The primary elements of WorkFirst Quality Assurance are:

  • Data accuracy initiatives.
  • Case record reviews.
  • WorkFirst Participation Review Committee.

The WorkFirst partnership will also use contract monitoring, staff training and local planning area coordination meetings to identify and address areas that could lead to federal errors.

3.9.3.2 What are data accuracy initiatives?

Data accuracy initiatives will assess whether the data we report to the federal government is free of data input errors and omissions. The goal is to improve WorkFirst data accuracy and eliminate factors that generate errors. This proactive approach will result in fewer errors, reduce re-work and preserve federal funding.

Data accuracy initiatives will likely change over time as we review cases and identify root causes of errors. The overall strategy includes:

  • Automating calculations and processes to reduce human error and workload.
  • Using automation to maximize participation (such as strategic use of time limits and excused absences).
  • Validating data produced by our automated systems (such as self-employment and monthly FLSA maximum calculations).
  • Identifying potential system errors.
  • Reducing data input discrepancies.
  • Auditing at a supervisory, agency and WorkFirst partnership level.

The federal government already reviews the WorkFirst data we send them and lets us know when they find possible errors. Examples of the errors they find are incorrect marital status or parents in sanction with no grant reduction. WorkFirst Quality Assurance has set a process in place to handle these potential errors before we submit data to reduce our risk of federal penalties. This process will:

  • Send discrepancy cases to local or headquarter staff for correction.
  • Let the federal government know when there is no discrepancy.
  • Change procedures, manuals or automated systems as needed so fewer discrepancies are generated.

3.9.3.3 How will we do case reviews?

The DSHS Office of Quality Assurance will draw a statistically valid sample of WorkFirst cases each month and work with the WorkFirst partnership to conduct case reviews. Each WorkFirst partner who provided an activity to the family will be on point to provide supporting documentation on the case.

WorkFirst Quality Assurance case record reviews will identify areas that, if left unaddressed, will lead to federal discrepancies. Key elements of the reviews include:

  • Were the hours countable?
  • Were the hours documented and reported correctly?
  • Did we capture all stacked activities in eJAS timely and accurately?
  • Did we follow the rules for approving excused absences?
  • Did we report school breaks correctly?
  • Did we record progress for high school equivalency and basic education?
  • Did we stay within the FLSA maximum hourly limits each month?
  • When we deemed, did the actual hours equal the monthly FLSA maximum?
  • Did we verify employment hours when required?
  • Did parents sign in on each scheduled day of job search and review their Daily Activity/Job Search Log with their employment counselor at their scheduled one-on-one coaching session?
  • Did we use the correct eJAS component codes and ACES valid values?
  • Did we enter the correct number of hours into eJAS and ACES?

The case record review will also look at how well we are doing with meeting WorkFirst participation requirements. Not every parent is able to participate full-time all the time, but we do want to make sure staff understand how to stack activities correctly. We also want to determine causes and solutions when parents' actual participation does not match their scheduled hours of participation.

3.9.3.4 What is the WorkFirst Participation Review Committee?

The WorkFirst Participation Review Committee (PRC) meets monthly to review potential problem cases from the case reviews. The idea behind the PRC is that bringing together the combined expertise of partners will help identify ways in which discrepancies may be reduced.

The PRC committee will:

  • Strengthen communication and understanding among all partners by encouraging dialog, discussion and mutual solutions.
  • Focus on short- and long-term discrepancy prevention and corrective action.
  • Identify discrepancy-prone cases, policy or automation issues and staff training needs.
  • Provide an opportunity to identify and discuss problem issues locally, regionally and statewide.
  • Allow the sharing of best practices statewide.

The PRC will distribute case record review findings prior to each meeting. Representatives from each WorkFirst partner agency will attend the meetings, as well as information technology staff.

Resources

Related WorkFirst Handbook Sections

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