Senate Bill No. 140
(By Senators Tomblin, Mr. President, and Boley,
By Request of the Executive)
[Passed March 9, 1996; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend chapter nine of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article nine, relating to
the West Virginia works program for welfare assistance to at-
risk families; food stamp recipients and emergency assistance
recipients; short title; legislative findings; program goals;
definitions; authorization for program, permitting
establishment as pilot projects, authorizing the request for
federal waivers, making the program implementation subject to
appropriation of funds; creating the "West Virginia works
program fund"; defining program participation requirements;
establishing eligibility for program participation; requiring
participants to work, attend school or a training program;
exemptions from work requirements; requiring all participants to sign a personal responsibility contract and defining
required provisions; time limits for program participation;
sanctions; establishing due process procedures; emergency
assistance loans in lieu of monthly cash assistance; employer
subsidy for employment; transitional assistance; requiring
interagency coordination; requiring intergovernmental
coordination and the use of existing state facilities and
county transportation systems for program implementation;
authorizing community organizations to develop support
services; coordinating relationship with other law; and
requiring review and evaluation by the legislative oversight
commission on health and human resources accountability.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand
nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto
a new article, designated article nine, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9. WEST VIRGINIA WORKS PROGRAM.
§9-9-1. Short title.
This article may be cited as the "WV WORKS Act".
§9-9-2. Legislative findings; purpose.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds that:
(1) At-risk families are capable of becoming self-supporting;
(2) A reformed assistance program should both expect and
assist a parent and caretaker-relatives in at-risk families to
support their dependent children and children for which they are
(3) Every parent or caretaker-relative can exhibit responsible
patterns of behavior so as to be a positive role model;
(4) Every parent or caretaker-relative who receives welfare
assistance has a responsibility to participate in an activity to
help them prepare for, obtain and maintain gainful employment;
(5) For a parent or caretaker-relative who receives welfare
assistance and for whom full-time work is not feasible,
participation in some activity is expected to further themselves,
their family or their community;
(6) The state should promote the value of work and the
capabilities of individuals;
(7) Job development efforts should enhance the employment
opportunities of participants;
(8) An effective public education system is the key to long-
term self-support; and
(9) A reformed assistance program should be structured to
achieve a clear set of outcomes; deliver services in an expedient,
effective and efficient manner; maximize community support for participants; and demonstrate budget neutrality over five years.
After five years, there is expected to be a decrease in the
following: (i) The number of persons receiving public assistance;
(ii) the amount of time an individual remains on public assistance;
and (iii) the amount of money spent in the West Virginia works
(b) The goals of the program are to achieve more efficient and
effective use of public assistance funds; reduce dependency on
public programs by promoting self-sufficiency; and structure the
assistance programs to emphasize employment and personal
responsibility. The program is to be evaluated on the increase in
employment rates in the program areas; the completion of
educational and training programs; the increased compliance in
preventive health activities, including immunizations; and a
decrease in the case-load of division personnel.
In addition to the rules for the construction of statutes in
section ten, article two, chapter two of this code and the words
and terms defined in section two, article one of this chapter,
unless a different meaning appears from the context:
(a) "At-risk family" means a group of West Virginians living
in the same household, living below the federally designated poverty level, lacking the resources to become self-supporting, and
consisting of a dependent minor child or children living with a
parent, stepparent or caretaker-relative; an "at-risk family" may
include an unmarried minor parent and his or her dependent child or
children who live in an adult supervised setting;
(b) "Barrier" means any fact, circumstance or situation that
prevents a person from becoming self-sufficient or from seeking,
obtaining or maintaining employment of any kind, including physical
or mental disabilities, lack of education, testing, training,
counseling, child care arrangements, transportation, medical
treatment or substance abuse treatment;
(c) "Beneficiary" or "participant" means any person in an at-
risk family who receives welfare assistance for himself or herself,
for family members or for persons for whom he or she cares;
(d) "Community or personal development" means activities
designed or intended to eliminate barriers to participation in
self-sufficiency activities. These activities are to provide
community benefit and enhance personal responsibility, including,
but not limited to, classes or counseling for learning life skills
or parenting, dependent care, job readiness, volunteer work,
participation in sheltered workshops or substance abuse treatment;
(e) "Department" means the state department of health and human resources;
(f) "Division" means the division of human services;
(g) "Income" means money received by any member of an at-risk
family which can be used at the discretion of the household to meet
its basic needs: Provided, That income shall not include earnings
of minor children in school, payments received from earned income
tax credit or tax refunds;
(h) "Personal responsibility contract" means a written
agreement entered into by the division and a beneficiary which
establishes the responsibilities and obligations of the
(i) "Secretary" means the secretary of the state department of
health and human resources;
(j) "Subsidized employment" means employment with earnings
provided by an employer who receives a subsidy from the division
for the creation and maintenance of the employment position;
(k) "Support services" means, but is not limited to, the
following services: Child care; medicaid; transportation
assistance; information and referral; resource development services
which is assisting families to receive child support enforcement
and supplemental social security income; family support services
which is parenting, budgeting and family planning; relocation assistance; and mentoring services;
(l) "Supported employment" means employment with earnings,
after mandatory deductions, that provides a level of income that
does not allow an at-risk family to exist independent of government
support such that supplemental cash assistance, child care
subsidies, food stamps, subsidized housing or other assistance may
be provided as necessary for a period of time;
(m) "Unsubsidized employment" means employment with earnings,
after mandatory deductions, that provides a level of income that
allows a family to become completely independent of government
(n) "Welfare assistance" means aid to families with dependent
children, food stamps or emergency assistance;
(o) "Work" means unsubsidized employment, subsidized
employment, employment with support, work experience or community
or personal development; and
(p) "Work experience" means unpaid structured work activities
that are provided in an environment where performance expectations
are similar to those existing in unsubsidized employment and which
provide training in occupational areas that can realistically be
expected to lead to unsubsidized employment.
§9-9-4. Authorization for program.
(a) The secretary shall conduct the West Virginia works
program in accordance with this article and any applicable waivers
from the secretary of the federal department of health and human
services and the secretary of the federal department of agriculture
or in accordance with federal block-grant funding or similar
federal funding stream. This program shall be implemented to
replace welfare assistance programs for at-risk families in
accordance with this article and within federal requirements; to
coordinate the transfer of all applicable state programs into the
West Virginia works program; to expend only the funds appropriated
by the Legislature to establish and operate the program; to
establish administrative due process procedures for revocation or
termination proceedings; and implement such other procedures as may
be necessary to accomplish the purpose of this article.
(b) Notwithstanding any provision of the law to the contrary,
the secretary shall implement the West Virginia works program as
soon as possible, but no later than three months after receiving
federal waiver approval and sufficient funds.
(c) The secretary shall submit federal waiver proposals to
permit this state to limit the duration of assistance to adults,
increase the asset test to five thousand dollars, to disregard the
restriction that limits the primary wage earner to working less than one hundred hours per month and to eliminate the requirement
of recent attachment to the work force.
(d) The secretary may establish the program as one or more
pilot projects to test the policy being evaluated. Any pilot
project so established is to be consistent with the principles and
goals set forth in this act. The secretary shall determine the
counties in which to implement the provisions of this program,
considering a fair representation of both rural and urban areas,
and may vary the program components to test the effectiveness,
efficiency and fiscal impact of each prior to statewide
implementation. The secretary shall structure the initial pilot
program, or programs to include a minimum of fifteen percent of the
state population that qualifies for aid to families with dependent
children, or any successor program. The pilot program shall
eventually include a minimum of fifteen percent of the participants
eligible in other categories, as funds are available.
(e) The West Virginia works program authorized pursuant to
this act does not create an entitlement to that program or any
services offered within that program, unless entitlement is created
pursuant to a federal law or regulation. The West Virginia works
program, and each component of that program established by this act
or the expansion of any component established pursuant to federal law or regulation, is subject to the annual appropriation of funds
by the Legislature and the corresponding federal financial
(f) On or before the first day of October, one thousand nine
the secretary shall propose emergency rules in
accordance with the provisions of section fifteen, article three,
chapter twenty-nine-a of this code regarding the implementation of
the pilot program, including, but not limited to, rules
establishing requirements for participation in the program, and
rules regarding the development, fulfillment and cancellation of
personal responsibility contracts.
(g) The secretary shall propose rules in accordance with the
provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code necessary to
accomplish all other purposes of this article, including, but not
limited to, rules for the regulation of the West Virginia works
program when expanded; rules establishing requirements for
participation in the program; and rules regarding the development,
fulfillment and cancellation of personal responsibility contracts:
Provided, That such rules shall not be filed as emergency rules
pursuant to section fifteen, article three of said chapter.
(h) Copies of all rules proposed by the secretary shall also
be filed with the legislative oversight commission on health and human resources accountability established pursuant to article
twenty-nine-e, chapter sixteen of this code.
§9-9-5. West Virginia works program fund.
There is hereby created a special account within the state
treasury to be known as the "West Virginia Works Program Fund".
Expenditures from the fund shall be used exclusively to meet the
necessary expenditures of the program, including wage
reimbursements to participating employers, aid to dependent
children cash grants, employment-related day care payments,
transportation expenses and administrative costs directly
associated with the operation of the program. Moneys paid into the
account shall be from specific appropriations by the Legislature
and the corresponding federal financial participation moneys.
§9-9-6. Program participation.
(a) Unless otherwise noted in this article, all adult
recipients of welfare assistance shall be required to participate
in the West Virginia works program, or pilot program, in accordance
with the provisions of this article. The level of participation,
services to be delivered and work requirements shall be defined
within the terms of the personal responsibility contract and
through rules established by the secretary.
(b) To the extent funding permits, any individual exempt under
the provisions of section eight of this article may participate in the activities and programs offered through the West Virginia works
(c) Support services other than cash assistance through the
works program may be provided to at-risk families to eliminate the
need for cash assistance.
(d) Cash assistance through the works program may be provided
to an at-risk family if the combined family income is below the
income and asset test levels established by the division:
Provided, That an at-risk family that includes a married man and
woman and dependent children of either one or both may receive an
additional cash assistance benefit in an amount ten percent greater
than the cash assistance benefit provided to the same size
household in which there are no married adults.
(e) The secretary shall promulgate legislative rules in
accordance with article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code
and administer the West Virginia works program to insure that no
duplication of benefits occurs to the participants in the program.
Participants may not receive benefits under the works program and
at the same time and for the same time period also receive aid to
families with dependent children or other forms of governmental
assistance that are the same or similar to those granted in this
§9-9-7. Work requirements
Unless otherwise exempted by the provisions of section eight
of this article, the West Virginia works program shall require that
anyone who possesses a high school diploma, or its equivalent, or
anyone who is of the age of twenty years or more, to work or attend
an educational or training program for a minimum of twenty hours
per week to receive any form of welfare assistance. In accordance
with federal law or regulation, the work, education and training
requirements of this section are waived for any qualifying
participant if day care services are not available. In order for
any participant to receive welfare assistance, he or she shall
enter into personal responsibility contracts pursuant to the
provisions of section nine of this article.
Participants exempt from the work requirements of the works
program pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be
required to develop a personal responsibility contract. The
secretary shall establish by rule categories of persons exempt only
from the work requirements of the program, which categories shall
include, but not be limited to, the following:
(a) A parent caring for a dependent child with a life-
(b) Individuals over the age of sixty years;
(c) Persons working in unsubsidized employment;
(d) Full-time students that are less than twenty years of age
and are pursuing a high school diploma or equivalent;
(e) Persons with a physical or mental incapacity as defined
pursuant to the provisions of title forty-two of the Social
Security Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 45 C.F.R.
(f) Individuals suffering from a temporary debilitating injury
for the duration of that injury. For purposes of this section, the
injury must cause the temporary disability for more than thirty
(g) Relatives providing in-home care for an individual that
would otherwise be institutionalized; and
(h) Any woman during the last trimester of pregnancy and the
first six months after the birth of the child but in no case shall
the woman be exempt from the work requirements for more than a
total of six months: Provided, That, in the case of the birth of
the first child to said woman after said woman first becomes a
public assistance recipient, the woman shall be exempt for the
first two years after the birth of said child.
§9-9-9. Personal responsibility contract.
(a) Every eligible adult beneficiary shall participate in a
program orientation and the development, and subsequent revisions, of a personal responsibility contract. The contract shall be
defined based on the assessed needs of the participant.
(1) If the participant has a recent attachment to the work
force, the contract shall include provisions regarding required job
search activities, identified support services, level of benefits
requested and time limitation.
(2) If the participant does not have a recent attachment to
the work force, the contract shall identify the evaluation or
testing activities, and/or job training activities necessary prior
to job search activities, identified support services, benefits
requested and time limitation.
(3) If it is determined that the participant is not able to
obtain or maintain gainful employment, the contract shall contain
appropriate provisions defining the activities that benefit the
participant, their family or their community.
(4) If the participant is a parent or caretaker-relative, the
contract shall include the requirement that the participant develop
and maintain, with the appropriate health care provider, a schedule
of preventive care for their dependent child, including routine
examinations and immunizations; nutrition counseling; assurance of
school attendance for school age children under their care;
assurance of properly supervised child care, including after-school care; and establish paternity or actively pursue child support, or
both, if applicable and if deemed necessary, counseling, parenting
or family planning classes.
(5) If the participant is a parent or caretaker-relative who
must remove barriers prior to employment, the contract shall
include a list of the identified barriers and an individual plan
for removing the same.
(6) If the participant is a teenage parent, the participant
may work and the contract shall include the requirements that the
(A) Remain in an educational activity to complete high school,
obtain a general equivalent diploma or obtain vocational training
and make satisfactory scholastic progress without incurring any
(B) Attend parenting classes or participate in a mentorship
program, or both; and
(C) Live at home or in other adult supervised arrangements if
they are unemancipated minor parents.
(7) If the participant is under the age of twenty years and
does not have a high school education or its equivalent, the
contract shall include requirements to participate in mandatory
education or training, which may include a return to high school if the participant is unemployed and to make satisfactory scholastic
progress and without incurring any disciplinary actions.
(b) The participant shall have up to thirty days from approval
of application to develop the personal responsibility contract. If
the participant refuses to sign the personal responsibility
contract, the department shall stop all benefits and services until
the participant complies with this section.
(c) Personal responsibility contracts shall be drafted by the
division on a case-by-case basis; take into consideration the
individual circumstances of each beneficiary; reviewed and re-
evaluated not less often than every two years; and, in the
discretion of the division, amended or extended on a periodic
§9-9-10. Participation limitation; exceptions.
The length of time a participant may receive West Virginia
works program benefits shall be defined in the personal
responsibility contract: Provided, That no participant may receive
benefits for a period longer than sixty months, except in
circumstances as defined by legislative rule pursuant to the
provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code.
§9-9-11. Breach of contract; notice; sanctions.
(a) The division may refuse to extend or renew a personal
responsibility contract and the benefits received by the beneficiary, or may terminate an existing contract and benefits, if
the division finds any of the following:
(1) The employment of fraud or deception by the beneficiary in
applying for or receiving program benefits;
(2) A substantial breach of the requirements and obligations
set forth in the personal contract of responsibility;
(3) A violation of any provision of the personal contract of
responsibility, this article, or any rule promulgated by the
secretary pursuant to this article.
(b) In the event the division determines that a personal
responsibility contract or the benefits received by the beneficiary
are subject to revocation or termination, written notice of the
violation, revocation or termination shall be deposited in the
United States mail, postage pre-paid and addressed to the
beneficiary at his or her last known address fourteen days prior to
such termination or revocation. Such notice shall state the action
of the division, its reason or reasons for such termination and
grant to the beneficiary a reasonable opportunity to be heard at a
fair and impartial hearing before the division in accordance with
administrative procedures established by the division and due
process of law.
(c) In any hearing granted pursuant to the provisions of this section, the beneficiary shall maintain the burden of proving that
his or her benefits were improperly terminated and shall bear his
or her own costs, including attorneys fees.
(d) The secretary shall determine by rule de minimis
violations and those violations subject to sanctions and maximum
penalties. In the event the division finds that a beneficiary has
violated any provision of this article, of his or her personal
responsibility contract or any applicable division rule, the
division shall impose sanctions against the beneficiary as follows:
(1) For the first noncompliance, a one-third reduction of
benefits for three months;
(2) For the second noncompliance, a two-thirds reduction in
benefits for three months; and
(3) For the third noncompliance, a termination of benefits.
(e) For any sanction imposed pursuant to subsection (d) of
this section, if compliance occurs within ten days of notice of the
sanction, the reduction in benefits shall not be imposed, but the
noncompliance shall count in determining the level of sanction to
be imposed for any future noncompliance. Once a reduction in
benefits is in effect, it shall remain in effect for the entire
three months. A reduction of benefits applies to both cash
assistance and support services. If benefits are terminated, benefits may not be provided until the noncompliance that caused
the termination has been rectified or excused.
§9-9-12. Emergency assistance allowance in lieu of monthly cash
(a) In order to encourage at-risk families not to apply for
ongoing monthly cash assistance from the state, the secretary may
issue one-time emergency assistance allowances to families in an
amount not to exceed three months of cash assistance in order to
enable such families to become immediately self-supporting.
(b) Except as otherwise provided by this section, all
emergency assistance allowances shall be issued with a repayment
schedule determined on a case-by-case basis by the division.
(c) If within one year of receiving such assistance an at-risk
family subsequently applies for monthly cash assistance, the
division shall recoup the amount remaining unpaid on the allowance
from future monthly cash assistance payments at the monthly rate of
ten percent of the monthly cash assistance payment for a period not
to exceed twenty-four months.
(d) One half of the amount of any emergency assistance
allowance may be forgiven after a recipient has been employed in
unsubsidized employment for one year after the date of receipt of
the allowance. The full amount of the allowance may be forgiven
after the recipient has been employed in unsubsidized employment for two years after the date of the receipt of the allowance.
(e) The secretary shall establish by rule the standards to be
considered in making emergency assistance allowances, developing
repayment schedules and qualifications for allowance forgiveness.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require that
the division or any assistance issued pursuant to this section be
subject to any of the provisions of chapter thirty-one or chapter
forty-six-a of this code.
§9-9-13. Subsidized employment.
(a) To the extent resources are available, an employer may be
paid a subsidy by the department for the employment of a parent or
caretaker-relative of an at-risk family if the employer agrees to
hire the works program participant at the end of the subsidized
period. If the employer does not hire the participant at the end
of the subsidized period, the program shall not use that employer
for subsidized employment for the next twelve months.
(b) If the division determines that any employer establishes
a pattern of discharging employees hired pursuant to the provisions
of this article subsequent to the expiration of the subsidized
period without good cause, the employer shall no longer be eligible
for participation in the subsidy program for a period to be
determined by the division.
§9-9-14. Transitional assistance.
The West Virginia works program may provide transitional
assistance in the form of supportive services and allow at-risk
families to retain a portion of their cash assistance when they
have earnings below fifty percent of the federally designated
poverty level. For those at-risk families with earnings between
fifty and one hundred percent of the federally designated poverty
level, supportive services may be continued.
§9-9-15. Interagency coordination.
The Legislature encourages the development of a system of
coordinated services, shared information and stream-lined
application procedures between the program and the other agencies
within the department to implement the provisions of this article.
The secretary shall require the coordination of activities between
the program and the following agencies:
(a) The child support enforcement division for the purpose of
establishing paternity, promoting cooperation in the pursuit of
child support, encouraging noncustodial parents to get job search
assistance and determining eligibility for cash assistance and
(b) The bureau of public health for the purpose of determining
appropriate immunization schedules, delivery systems and
verification procedures; and
(c) The bureau of medical services for the purpose of reporting eligibility for medical assistance and transitional
The secretary may require the coordination of procedures and
services with any other agency he or she deems necessary to
implement this program.
The secretary shall propose any rules, including emergency
rules, necessary for the coordination of various agency activities
in the implementation of this section.
§9-9-16. Intergovernmental coordination.
The commissioner of the bureau of employment programs and the
superintendent of the department of education shall assist the
secretary in the establishment of the West Virginia works program.
Prior to implementation of this program, each department shall
address in their respective plans the method in which their
respective resources will be devoted to facilitate the
identification of or delivery of services for participants and
shall coordinate their respective programs with the division in the
provision of services to participants and their families. Each
county board of education shall designate a person to coordinate
with the local department of health and human resources office the
board's services to participant families and that person shall work
to achieve coordination at the local level.
The secretary and the superintendent shall develop a plan for program implementation to occur with the use of existing state
facilities and county transportation systems within the project
areas whenever practicable. This agreement shall include, but not
be limited to, the use of buildings, grounds and buses. Whenever
possible, the supportive services, education and training programs
should be offered at the existing school facilities.
The commissioner shall give priority to participants of the
works program within the various programs of the bureau of
employment programs. The secretary and the commissioner shall
develop reporting and monitoring mechanisms between their
§9-9-17. Public-private partnerships.
The secretary is authorized to enter into agreements with any
private, nonprofit, charitable or religious organizations to
promote the development of the community support services necessary
for the effective implementation of this program.
§9-9-18. Relationship with other law.
If any provision of this article conflicts with any other
provision of this code or rules, the provisions of this article
shall supersede such provisions: Provided, That the provisions of
this article shall not supersede any provisions which are required
or mandated by federal law.
§9-9-19. Legislative oversight.
The legislative oversight commission on health and human
resources accountability is charged with immediate and ongoing
oversight of the program created by this article. This commission
shall study, review and examine the work of the program, the
department and its staff; study, review and examine all rules
proposed by the department; and monitor the development and
implementation of the West Virginia works program. The commission
shall review and make recommendations to the Legislature and the
legislative rule-making review committee regarding any plan, policy
or rule proposed by the secretary, the division or the program.