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Issue Alert - 02-08-02

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Date:

Aug 16, 2002

Issue Summary:

ChildCare Payments Will Be Allowed For Orientation and Compliance Test Activities.

Persons Affected:

WorkFirst Participants

For More Information:

Center for Civil Justice 320 S. Washington, 2nd Floor Saginaw, MI 48607 (989) 755-3120, (800)724-7441 Fax: (989) 755-3558 E-mail: info@ccj-mi.org


Background

Child Development and Care (CDC)

What's Happening?

In the past, child care payments through the Child Development and Care (CDC) program were not allowed for Orientation, general or individual, or for compliance test activities. Local offices became concerned that they would not have enough funds to meet demand with the new 40 hours/week work requirement. In response to this, local offices may now use the CDC program. Payments will be allowed as long as all eligibility requirements are met. The three options available are the CDC regular Automated Payment System, Early Cash Payments or Direct Support Services (DSS).Automated Payment SystemCDC payments are made when all eligibility and need requirements are met. These include verification of employment or educational hours for the applicant and verification of a provider’s eligibility. Once these requirements are met, the CDC case is opened and payment will be made once the provider bills FIA. FIA has 45 days to process the application and once opened, childcare payments are issued weekly. This method of payment is probably the slowest in getting payments to providers. Providers must enroll in the CDC program in order to get paid. If the provider is only planning on providing day care for Orientation or a short period of time, the eligibility requirements they would need to fulfill might deter them from participating. Providers would not be able to get advanced payment for Orientation as there is not enough time between the participant being notified of the Orientation date and the time it takes for the application to be processed and payment made.Early Cash PaymentAnother option available for childcare payments is the Early Cash Payment. The agency may issue an Early Cash Payment under certain circumstances. Early Cash Payments can be used when payment would not otherwise be received by the provider before the first day child care is needed and the individual needs to secure child care services in order to participate in a required work activity such as Orientation or a compliance test. Payment may be authorized for up to 28 consecutive calendar days. No verification is required to authorize Early Cash Payments. However, verification must be timely received in order to open a CDC case for ongoing services. Individuals would be better off using this method of payment in order to secure childcare on short notice.Direct Support Services (DSS)Direct Support Services (DSS) are goods and services provided to help families achieve self-sufficiency. Direct Support Services include Employment Support Services (ESS). It is this program that allows FIA or the MWA to authorize childcare payments for orientation or compliance test activities. Since the money is allocated annually to each local office, it is likely the quickest way to obtain childcare payments. Workers can authorize and obtain payment prior to the service being provided.

What Should Advocates Do?

Advise clients of this change in policy and encourage them to request child care payments if they are eligible. Be aware of the different methods of payment available for child care and educate caseworkers, if necessary, that payments can be made sooner than with the regular Automated Payment System. If individuals are being authorized for CDC through the regular Automated Payment System, payment will not be available as readily as with the other two methods of authorization, Early Cash Payment or Direct Support Services. Local FIA offices may steer participants towards regular CDC because the money does not come out of the local office budget. Remember that clients have good cause for missing work or orientation if they cannot find adequate, affordable and safe childcare. Finding such childcare will be difficult if individuals do not have access to payments prior to the service being rendered.

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services office handle these type of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate the "free" legal services or legal aid office that serves your county on the Michigan Legal Assistance Network website (http://www.mlan.net/locate.html) or look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738