Part 2. Work First Program.

108A-27. (See editor's note) Authorization and description of Work First Program; Work First Program changes; designation of Electing and Standard Program Counties.

(a) The Department shall establish, supervise and monitor the Work First Program. The purpose of the Work First Program is to provide eligible families with short-term assistance to facilitate their movement to self-sufficiency through gainful employment, not the mere reduction of the welfare rolls. The Department shall ensure that the Work First Program focuses on this purpose of self-sufficiency. The ultimate goal of the Work First Program is the gradual elimination of generational poverty, and the Department shall ensure that all evaluations of the Work First Program, whether performed at the State or the county level, maintain this purpose and this goal of the Work First Program and effect an ongoing determination of whether the Work First Program is successful in facilitating families to move to self-sufficiency and in gradually eliminating generational poverty.

(b) The Work First Program in all counties shall include program administration and three categories of assistance to participants:

(1) Work First Diversion Assistance;

(2) Work First Family Assistance; and

(3) Work First Services.

(c) The Department may change the Work First Program when required to comply with federal law. Any changes in federal law that necessitate a change in the Work First Program shall be effected by temporary rule until the next State Plan is approved by the General Assembly. Any change effective by the Department to comply with federal law shall be reported to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services and the House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services and included in the State Plan submitted during the next session of the General Assembly following the change.

(d) The Department shall allow counties maximum flexibility in the Work First Program while ensuring that the counties comply with federal and State laws and regulations. Subject to any limitations imposed by law, the Department shall allow counties to request to be designated as either Electing Counties or Standard Program Counties in the Work First Program.

(e) All counties shall notify the Department in writing as to whether they desire to be designated as either Electing or Standard Program. A county shall submit in its notification to the Department documentation demonstrating that three-fifths of its county commissioners support its desired designation. Upon receipt of the notification from the county, the Department shall send to the county confirmation of the county's planning designation. A county that desires to be redesignated shall submit a request in writing to the Department at least six months prior to the effective date of the next State Plan. In its request for redesignation, the county shall submit documentation demonstrating that three-fifths of its county commissioners support the redesignation. Upon receipt of the notification from the county, the Department shall send to the county confirmation of the county's planning redesignation. A county's redesignation shall become effective on the effective date of the next State Plan following the redesignation. A county's designation or redesignation shall not be effected except as provided in this Article.

(f) The board of county commissioners in an Electing County shall be responsible for development, administration, and implementation of the Work First Program in that county.

(g) The county department of social services in a Standard Program County shall be responsible for administering and implementing the Standard Work First Program in that county.

(h) The Department and Electing Counties, in developing their respective plans, may distinguish among potential groups of recipients on whatever basis necessary to enhance program purposes and to maximize federal revenues, so long as the rights, including the constitutional rights of equal protection and due process, of individuals are protected. The Department and Electing Counties shall provide Work First Program assistance to qualified immigrants on the same basis as citizens to the extent permitted by federal law. (1981, c. 275, s. 1; 1997-443, s. 12.5; 1998-212, s. 12.27A(a1); 2001-424, s. 21.13(e); 2009-489, s. 2.)