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Issue Alert - 11-10-03

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Date:

Oct 10, 2011

Program Area:

Child Development and Care (CDC)

Issue Summary:

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has issued policy that eliminates CDC for travel time, lowers the cap on hours, lowers hourly rates to certain providers, and eliminates parent reporting requirements. Insufficient CDC payments may be good cause for noncompliance and a basis for deferral in FIP work participation programs.

Persons Affected:

Parents who need CDC for travel time, especially for Family Independence Program (FIP) work participation programs, and providers who cannot complete certain training requirements

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 or Michigan Poverty Law Program 611 Church Street, Suite 4A Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3000 (734) 998-6100 (734) 998-9125 Fax


Background

The Child Development and Care (CDC) program provides child care subsidies to parents (and other persons raising children) who need child care to attend work, approved school, Family Independence Program (FIP) work participation program activities, or approved family preservation activities.

CDC payments are based on (1) the number of hours of “need” approved by DHS; (2) the DHS CDC hourly payment rate for the particular child care provider; and (3) the percentage of the hourly DHS CDC payment rate approved for the particular family.

What's Happening?

On October 1, 2011, DHS issued Program Policy Bulletin 2011-017, and posted revised policies on CDC which (a) lower the hourly payment rates for certain relative providers and day care aides, effective October 9, 2011; (b) eliminates the parent reporting requirements; (c) eliminates CDC payments for the time a parent spends traveling from the CDC provider to the employment, education, or other activity, and back again; and (d) lowers the maximum hours approved for a two-week pay period from 90 to 80.

The lower payment rates for child care aides (who provide care in the child(ren)’s own home) and relative providers (who provide care in the relative’s home)  apply to providers who have not completed certain training requirements.  Providers in some parts of the state report problems in attending training because of the limited number of slots or seats available for some training sessions.  

The parent reporting responsibilities were extremely cumbersome and time consuming and their elimination is a positive step toward cutting red tape and bureaucracy.

The new cap on hours and elimination of CDC payments for travel time will create hardship for all parents, and especially those on FIP.   Under FIP work participation requirements,  parents are required to participate in activities “up to 40 hours per week”, NOT including travel time. And two parent families that receive child care payments are required to participate in activities 40 hours per week, again NOT including travel time.   A long commute or travel time is good cause for refusing a job or not complying with work participation program assignments if the commute is over 2 hours per day (3 hours in unique and compelling circumstances), not including the travel time to and from child care.   Mich Admin Code R. 400.3607(c).  (BEM 233A p. 5 says good cause exists if the total travel time is more than 2 hours for work or more than 3 hours to work and child care).

Advocates representing families affected by these cuts should carefully examine the federal law, administrative rules, and DHS policy on deferrals from, and good cause for noncompliance with, FIP work participation requirements when affordable, appropriate child care is not available. Parents should not be forced to attend work participation activities, or sanctioned for not attending them, if they are being forced to pay out of pocket for the hours their children are in childcare while the parent(s) are commuting. 

A single parent of a child under age 6 is exempt from work participation requirements if appropriate, affordable child care is not available. 42 USC 607(e)(2); BEM 230A p. 7-8.  Affordable child care is childcare “provided at the rate or reimbursement offered by DHS”.    Id. 

FIP recipients also have good cause for noncompliance with work participation requirements if  child care is not affordable to them, again defined as childcare “provided at the rate or reimbursement offered by DHS”.    BEM 233A  p. 5. 

What Should Advocates Do?

1.    Educate clients and community organizations about the new rules and the need to request deferrals or good cause findings if parents are assigned to work participation programs that require travel time not covered by the CDC program.

2.   Assist FIP recipients in requesting and obtaining deferrals when appropriate, and in presenting good cause at triage meetings and hearings. (see Issue Alert 11-10-04 regarding FIP work participation program noncompliance penalties.)

 

What Should Clients Do?

1. Let your DHS caseworker know if you are unable to find a child care provider who will not charge you for the hours your child(ren) are in childcare while you travel to and from work or the FIP work participation program.

 2. Seek legal advice if you cannot find affordable child care and DHS says you must attend FIP work participation program activities that require significant travel time.

  3. Read your DHS notices carefully and seek legal advice if you cannot understand them or think DHS has acted incorrectly

Finding Help

Most legal aid and legal services offices handle these types of cases, and they do not charge a fee. You can locate various sources of legal and related services, including the free legal aid office that serves your county, at MichiganLegalAid.org. You can also look in the yellow pages under "attorneys" or call the toll-free lawyer referral number, (800) 968-0738.