(1) The entitlement of any person to receive federal-state cash assistance is hereby discontinued;
(2) At-risk families are capable of becoming self-supporting;
(3) An 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 caretakers;
(4) Every parent or caretaker-relative can exhibit responsible patterns of behavior so as to be a positive role model;
(5) Every parent or caretaker-relative who receives cash assistance has a responsibility to participate in an activity to help them prepare for, obtain and maintain gainful employment;
(6) For a parent or caretaker-relative who receives cash assistance and for whom full-time work is not feasible, participation in some activity is required to further himself or herself, his or her family or his or her community;
(7) The state should promote the value of work and the capabilities of individuals;
(8) Job development efforts should enhance the employment opportunities of participants;
(9) Education is the key to achieving and maintaining life-long self-sufficiency; and
(10) An assistance program should be structured to achieve a clear set of outcomes; deliver services in an expedient, effective and efficient manner; and maximize community support for participants.
(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 success of the program is to be evaluated on the following activities, including, but not limited to, the following: Job entry, job retention, federal work participation requirements and completion of educational activities.
(a) "At-risk family" means a group of persons 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) "Beneficiary" or "participant" means any parent, work eligible individuals or caretaker-relative in an at-risk family who receives cash assistance for himself or herself and family members;
(c) "Caretaker-relative" means grandparents or other nonparental caretakers not included in the assistance group or receiving cash assistance directly;
(d) "Cash assistance" means temporary assistance for needy families;
(e) "Challenge" 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;
(f) "Community or personal development" means activities designed or intended to eliminate challenges 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;
(g) "Department" means the state Department of Health and Human Resources;
(h) "Education and training" means hours spent regularly attending and preparing for classes in any approved course of schooling or training;
(i) "Family assessments" means evaluation of the following: Work skills, prior work experience, employability, education and challenges to becoming self-sufficient such as mental health and physical health issues along with lack of transportation and child care;
(j) "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 does not include:
(1) Supplemental security income paid to any member or members of the at-risk family;
(2) Earnings of minor children;
(3) Payments received from earned income tax credit or tax refunds;
(4) Earnings deposited in an individual development account approved by the department;
(5) Any educational grant or scholarship income regardless of source; or
(6) Any moneys specifically excluded from countable income by federal law;
(k) "Minor child head of household" means an emancipated minor under the age of eighteen years;
(l) "Nonrecipient parent" means an adult or adults excluded or disqualified by federal or state law from receiving cash assistance;
(m) "Personal responsibility contract" means a written agreement entered into by the department and a beneficiary for purposes of participation in the West Virginia Works Program;
(n) "Secretary" means the secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources;
(o) "Subsidized employment" means employment with earnings provided by an employer who receives a subsidy from the department for the creation and maintenance of the employment position;
(p) "Support services" includes, but is not limited to, the following services: Child care; Medicaid; transportation assistance; information and referral; resource development services which includes assisting families to receive child support and supplemental security income; family support services which includes parenting, budgeting and family planning; relocation assistance; and mentoring services;
(q) "Temporary assistance to needy families" is the federal program funded under Part A, Title IV of the Social Security Act, codified at 42 U.S.C. §601, et. seq.;
(r) "Transitional assistance" may include medical assistance, food stamp assistance, child care and supportive services as defined by the secretary and as funding permits;
(s) "Two-parent family" means two parents with a common child residing in the same household and included in a common West Virginia Works grant payment or, two parents with a common child residing in the same home and one or both of the parents are "work eligible individuals", as that term is defined in this section, but are excluded from the West Virginia Works payments unless the exclusion is due to an exemption as provided in section eight of this article.
(t) "Unsubsidized employment" means employment with earnings provided by an employer who does not receive a subsidy from the department for the creation and maintenance of the employment position;
(u) "Vocational educational training" means organized educational programs, not to exceed twelve months for any individual, that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for employment in current or emerging occupations requiring training other than a baccalaureate or advance degree;
(v) "Work" means unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, work experience, community or personal development and education and training;
(w) "Work eligible individual" means an adult or minor child head-of-household receiving assistance under the West Virginia Works Program or a nonrecipient parent living with a child receiving the assistance; and
(x) "Work experience" means a publicly assisted work activity, including work associated with the refurbishing of publicly assisted housing, performed in return for program benefits that provide general skills, training, knowledge and work habits necessary to obtain employment. This activity must be supervised daily and on an ongoing basis by an employer, work site sponsor or other responsible party.
(b) The WV works program authorized pursuant to this article 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 WV works program and each component of that program established by this article or the expansion of any component established pursuant to federal law or regulation is subject to the annual appropriation of funds by the Legislature.
(c) Copies of all rules proposed pursuant to authority granted in this article by the secretary shall 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.
(b) 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 Program.
(c) Support services other than cash assistance through the West Virginia Works Program may be provided to at-risk families to assist in meeting the work requirements or to eliminate the need for cash assistance.
(d) Cash assistance through the West Virginia Works Program may be provided to an at-risk family if the combined family income, as defined in section three of this article, is below the income test levels established by the department, subject to the following:
(1) Any adult member of an at-risk family who receives supplemental security income shall be excluded from the benefit group;
(2) Within the limits of funds appropriated therefor, 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 of one hundred dollars or less; and
(3) An at-risk family shall receive an additional cash assistance benefit in the amount of twenty-five dollars regardless of the amount of child support collected in a month on behalf of a child or children of the at-risk family, as allowed by federal law.
(b) The department and representatives of the Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education shall develop and implement a plan to use and expand the programs available at the state's community and technical colleges, colleges and universities to assist beneficiaries or participants who are enrolled or wish to become enrolled in vocational-educational training not to exceed twelve months with respect to any individual to meet the work requirements of this section. Vocational-educational training shall be supervised daily and on an ongoing basis.
(1) Undocumented aliens and aliens under the five-year ban;
(2) Parents, or at state option on a case-by-case basis, anyone receiving supplemental security income;
(3) A parent who is providing medically necessary care for a disabled family member who resides in the home and is not a full-time student;
(4) Minor parents who are not head of household (spouses of the head of household); and
(5) Grandparents and other nonparental caretakers.
(2) The participant's contract shall include the following requirements:
(A) That the participant develop and maintain, with the appropriate health care provider, a schedule of preventive care for his or her dependent child or children, including routine examinations and immunizations;
(B) Assurance of school attendance for school-age children under his or her care;
(C) Assurance of properly supervised child care, including after-school care;
(D) Establishment of paternity or active pursuit of child support, or both, if applicable and if considered necessary; and
(E) Nutrition or other counseling, parenting or family-planning classes.
(3) If the participant is a teenage parent, he or she may work, but the contract shall include the requirements that the participant:
(A) Remain in an educational activity to complete high school, obtain a general equivalency diploma or obtain vocational training and make satisfactory scholastic progress;
(B) Attend parenting classes or participate in a mentorship program, or both, if appropriate; and
(C) Live at home with his or her parent or guardian or in some other adult-supervised arrangements if he or she is an unemancipated minor.
(4) If the participant is under the age of twenty years and does not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, the contract shall include requirements to participate in mandatory education or training which, if the participant is unemployed, may include a return to high school, with satisfactory scholastic progress required.
(b) In order to receive cash assistance, the participant shall enter into a personal responsibility contract. If the participant refuses to sign the personal responsibility contract, the participant and family members are ineligible to receive cash assistance: Provided, That a participant who alleges that the terms of a personal responsibility contract are inappropriate based on his or her individual circumstances may request and shall be provided a fair and impartial hearing in accordance with administrative procedures established by the department and due process of law. A participant who signs a personal responsibility contract or complies with a personal responsibility contract does not waive his or her right to request and receive a hearing under this subsection.
(c) Personal responsibility contracts shall be drafted by the department on a case-by-case basis; take into consideration the individual circumstances of each beneficiary; reviewed and reevaluated periodically, but not less than on an annual basis; and, in the discretion of the department, amended on a periodic basis.
(a) The department may terminate cash assistance benefits to an at-risk family if it finds any of the following:
(1) Fraud or deception by the beneficiary in applying for or receiving program benefits;
(2) A substantial breach by the beneficiary of the requirements and obligations set forth in the personal responsibility contract and any amendments or addenda to the contract; or
(3) A violation by the beneficiary of any provision of the personal responsibility contract or any amendments or addenda to the contract, this article, or any rule or policy promulgated by the secretary pursuant to this article.
(b) In the event the department determines that benefits received by the beneficiary are subject to reduction or termination, written notice of the reduction or termination and the reason for the reduction or termination shall be deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid and addressed to the beneficiary at his or her last-known address at least thirteen days prior to the termination or reduction. The notice shall state the action being taken by the department and grant to the beneficiary a reasonable opportunity to be heard at a fair and impartial hearing before the department in accordance with administrative procedures established by the department and due process of law.
(c) In any hearing conducted pursuant to the provisions of this section, the beneficiary has the burden of proving that his or her benefits were improperly reduced or terminated and shall bear his or her own costs, including attorneys' fees.
(d) The secretary shall promulgate emergency rules and propose for legislative promulgation legislative rules, pursuant to article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, setting forth the schedule of sanctions to be imposed when a beneficiary has violated any provision of this article, of his or her personal responsibility contract or any amendment or addendum to the contract, or any applicable department rule. In developing these rules, the secretary is directed to make those sanctions graduated and sufficiently stringent, when compared to those of contiguous states, so as to discourage persons from moving from such states to this state to take advantage of lesser sanctions being imposed for the same or similar violations by the secretary. The secretary shall also promulgate legislative rules setting forth what constitutes de minimis violations and those violations subject to sanctions and maximum penalties.
(e) The department shall provide an annual report regarding the sanctions relating to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program , including their relative stringency when compared to those of contiguous states, frequency of imposition and the overall success of those sanctions at deterring individuals from taking advantage of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and accomplishing the overall purposes of the program, to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability on January 1 of each year. Copies of that report shall also be furnished to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House.
(b) The secretary shall establish by rule the standards to be considered in making diversionary assistance allowances.
(c) Nothing in this section may be construed to require that the department 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.
(b) If the department determines that an employer has demonstrated a pattern of discharging employees hired pursuant to the provisions of this section subsequent to the expiration of the subsidized period without good cause, the employer shall no longer be eligible for participation in the subsidized employment program for a period to be determined by the department.
(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 support services;
(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 benefits.
The secretary may require the coordination of procedures and services with any other agency he or she considers necessary to implement this program: Provided, That all agencies coordinating services with the department shall, when provided with access to department records or information, abide by state and federal confidentiality requirements including the provisions of section twenty of this article.
The secretary shall propose any rules, including emergency rules, necessary for the coordination of various agency activities in the implementation of this section.
(b) 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.
(c) The commissioner shall give priority to participants of the WV 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 respective agencies.
Any reference in this code or rules to "aid to families with dependent children" means "temporary assistance for needy families" or any successor state program funded under Part A, Title IV of the Social Security Act.
(1) If permissible under state or federal rules or regulations;
(2) Upon the express written consent of the beneficiary or his or her legally authorized representative;
(3) Pursuant to an order of any court of record of this state or the United States based upon a finding that the information is sufficiently relevant to a proceeding before the court to outweigh the importance of maintaining the confidentiality established by this section: Provided, That all confidential records and information presented to the court shall after review be sealed by the clerk and shall not be open to any person except upon order of the court upon good cause being shown for the confidential records and information to be opened; or
(4) To a department or division of the state or other entity, pursuant to the terms of an interagency or other agreement: Provided, That any agreement specifically references this section and extends its requirements for confidentiality to the other entity receiving the records or information, its agents and employees.
(b) Any person who knowingly and willfully releases or causes to be released the confidential records and information described in this section, except under the specific circumstances enumerated in this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or confined in the county or regional jail for not more than six months, or both.
(b) All eligible adults attending post-secondary courses leading to a two- or four-year degree and who are not participating in vocational education training, as that term is defined in this article, shall be enrolled in the West Virginia Works Separate State College Program. Participants in the program shall not be required to engage in more than ten hours per week of federally defined work activities. The work, education and training requirements of this article are waived for any qualifying participant with a child under six years of age if the participant is unable to obtain appropriate and available child care services. All other requirements of West Virginia Works apply to program administration for adults enrolled in the program.
(c) The Department of Health and Human Resources shall work with the Higher Education Policy Commission, as set forth in article one-b, chapter eighteen-b of this code, and the Council for Community and Technical College Education, as set forth in article two-b, chapter eighteen-b of this code, to develop and implement a plan to use and expend funds for the programs available at the state's community and technical colleges and colleges and universities to assist participants who are enrolled, or wish to become enrolled, in two- and four-year degree programs of post-secondary education to meet the work requirements of this article.
(b) All eligible two parent families, as that term is defined in this article, shall enroll in the West Virginia Works Separate State Two-Parent Families Program. All requirements of West Virginia Works shall apply to program administration for two-parent families enrolled in the program.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.