256D.051 Food stamp employment and training program.
Subdivision 1. Food stamp employment and training program. The commissioner shall implement a food stamp employment and training program in order to meet the food stamp employment and training participation requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture. Unless exempt under subdivision 3a, each adult recipient in the unit must participate in the food stamp employment and training program each month that the person is eligible for food stamps. The person's participation in food stamp employment and training services must begin no later than the first day of the calendar month following the determination of eligibility for food stamps. With the county agency's consent, and to the extent of available resources, the person may voluntarily continue to participate in food stamp employment and training services for up to three additional consecutive months immediately following termination of food stamp benefits in order to complete the provisions of the person's employability development plan.
Subd. 1a. Notices and sanctions. (a) At the time the county agency notifies the household that it is eligible for food stamps, the county agency must inform all mandatory employment and training services participants as identified in subdivision 1 in the household that they must comply with all food stamp employment and training program requirements each month, including the requirement to attend an initial orientation to the food stamp employment and training program and that food stamp eligibility will end unless the participants comply with the requirements specified in the notice.
(b) A participant who fails without good cause to comply with food stamp employment and training program requirements of this section, including attendance at orientation, will lose food stamp eligibility for the following periods:
(1) for the first occurrence, for one month or until the person complies with the requirements not previously complied with, whichever is longer;
(2) for the second occurrence, for three months or until the person complies with the requirements not previously complied with, whichever is longer; or
(3) for the third and any subsequent occurrence, for six months or until the person complies with the requirements not previously complied with, whichever is longer.
If the participant is not the food stamp head of household, the person shall be considered an ineligible household member for food stamp purposes. If the participant is the food stamp head of household, the entire household is ineligible for food stamps as provided in Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 273.7(g). "Good cause" means circumstances beyond the control of the participant, such as illness or injury, illness or injury of another household member requiring the participant's presence, a household emergency, or the inability to obtain child care for children between the ages of six and 12 or to obtain transportation needed in order for the participant to meet the food stamp employment and training program participation requirements.
(c) The county agency shall mail or hand deliver a notice to the participant not later than five days after determining that the participant has failed without good cause to comply with food stamp employment and training program requirements which specifies the requirements that were not complied with, the factual basis for the determination of noncompliance, and the right to reinstate eligibility upon a showing of good cause for failure to meet the requirements. The notice must ask the reason for the noncompliance and identify the participant's appeal rights. The notice must request that the participant inform the county agency if the participant believes that good cause existed for the failure to comply and must state that the county agency intends to terminate eligibility for food stamp benefits due to failure to comply with food stamp employment and training program requirements.
(d) If the county agency determines that the participant did not comply during the month with all food stamp employment and training program requirements that were in effect, and if the county agency determines that good cause was not present, the county must provide a ten-day notice of termination of food stamp benefits. The amount of food stamps that are withheld from the household and determination of the impact of the sanction on other household members is governed by Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 273.7.
(e) The participant may appeal the termination of food stamp benefits under the provisions of section 256.045.
Subd. 1b. Repealed, 1991 c 292 art 5 s 82
Subd. 2. County agency duties. (a) The county agency shall provide to food stamp recipients a food stamp employment and training program. The program must include:
(1) orientation to the food stamp employment and training program;
(2) an individualized employability assessment and an individualized employability development plan that includes assessment of literacy, ability to communicate in the English language, educational and employment history, and that estimates the length of time it will take the participant to obtain employment. The employability assessment and development plan must be completed in consultation with the participant, must assess the participant's assets, barriers, and strengths, and must identify steps necessary to overcome barriers to employment. A copy of the employability development plan must be provided to the registrant;
(3) referral to available accredited remedial or skills training programs designed to address participant's barriers to employment;
(4) referral to available programs that provide subsidized or unsubsidized employment as necessary;
(5) a job search program, including job seeking skills training; and
(6) other activities, to the extent of available resources designed by the county agency to prepare the participant for permanent employment.
In order to allow time for job search, the county agency may not require an individual to participate in the food stamp employment and training program for more than 32 hours a week. The county agency shall require an individual to spend at least eight hours a week in job search or other food stamp employment and training program activities.
(b) The county agency shall prepare an annual plan for the operation of its food stamp employment and training program. The plan must be submitted to and approved by the commissioner of economic security. The plan must include:
(1) a description of the services to be offered by the county agency;
(2) a plan to coordinate the activities of all public entities providing employment-related services in order to avoid duplication of effort and to provide services more efficiently;
(3) a description of the factors that will be taken into account when determining a client's employability development plan; and
(4) provisions to ensure that the county agency's employment and training service provider provides each recipient with an orientation, employability assessment, and employability development plan as specified in paragraph (a), clauses (1) and (2), within 30 days of the recipient's eligibility for assistance.
Subd. 2a. Duties of commissioner. In addition to any other duties imposed by law, the commissioner shall:
(1) based on this section and section 256D.052 and Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 273.7, supervise the administration of food stamp employment and training services to county agencies;
(2) disburse money appropriated for food stamp employment and training services to county agencies based upon the county's costs as specified in section 256D.06;
(3) accept and supervise the disbursement of any funds that may be provided by the federal government or from other sources for use in this state for food stamp employment and training services;
(4) cooperate with other agencies including any agency of the United States or of another state in all matters concerning the powers and duties of the commissioner under this section and section 256D.052; and
(5) in cooperation with the commissioner of economic security, ensure that each component of an employment and training program carried out under this section is delivered through a statewide workforce development system, unless the component is not available locally through such a system.
Subd. 3. Participant duties. In order to receive food stamp assistance, a registrant shall: (1) cooperate with the county agency in all aspects of the food stamp employment and training program; (2) accept any suitable employment, including employment offered through the Job Training Partnership Act, and other employment and training options; and (3) participate in food stamp employment and training activities assigned by the county agency. The county agency may terminate assistance to a registrant who fails to cooperate in the food stamp employment and training program, as provided in subdivision 1a.
Subd. 3a. Persons required to register for and participate in the food stamp employment and training program. (a) To the extent required under Code of Federal Regulations, title 7, section 273.7(a), each applicant for and recipient of food stamps is required to register for work as a condition of eligibility for food stamp benefits. Applicants and recipients are registered by signing an application or annual reapplication for food stamps, and must be informed that they are registering for work by signing the form.
(b) The commissioner shall determine, within federal requirements, persons required to participate in the food stamp employment and training (FSET) program.
(c) The following food stamp recipients are exempt from mandatory participation in food stamp employment and training services:
(1) recipients of benefits under the AFDC program, the MFIP-S, MFIP, and MFIP-R programs, Minnesota supplemental aid program, or the general assistance program;
(2) a child;
(3) a recipient over age 55;
(4) a recipient who has a mental or physical illness, injury, or incapacity which is expected to continue for at least 30 days and which impairs the recipient's ability to obtain or retain employment as evidenced by professional certification or the receipt of temporary or permanent disability benefits issued by a private or government source;
(5) a parent or other household member responsible for the care of either a dependent child in the household who is under age six or a person in the household who is professionally certified as having a physical or mental illness, injury, or incapacity. Only one parent or other household member may claim exemption under this provision;
(6) a recipient receiving unemployment compensation or who has applied for unemployment compensation and has been required to register for work with the department of economic security as part of the unemployment compensation application process;
(7) a recipient participating each week in a drug addiction or alcohol abuse treatment and rehabilitation program, provided the operators of the treatment and rehabilitation program, in consultation with the county agency, recommend that the recipient not participate in the food stamp employment and training program;
(8) a recipient employed or self-employed for 30 or more hours per week at employment paying at least minimum wage, or who earns wages from employment equal to or exceeding 30 hours multiplied by the federal minimum wage; or
(9) a student enrolled at least half time in any school, training program, or institution of higher education. When determining if a student meets this criteria, the school's, program's or institution's criteria for being enrolled half time shall be used.
Subd. 3b. Orientation. The county agency or its employment and training service provider must provide an orientation to food stamp employment and training services to each nonexempt food stamp recipient within 30 days of the date that food stamp eligibility is determined. The orientation must inform the participant of the requirement to participate in services, the date, time, and address to report to for services, the name and telephone number of the food stamp employment and training service provider, the consequences for failure without good cause to comply, the services and support services available through food stamp employment and training services and other providers of similar services, and must encourage the participant to view the food stamp program as a temporary means of supplementing the family's food needs until the family achieves self-sufficiency through employment. The orientation may be provided through audio-visual methods, but the participant must have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction with county agency staff.
Subd. 3c. Repealed, 1991 c 292 art 5 s 82
Subd. 4. Repealed, 1987 c 403 art 2 s 164
Subd. 5. Repealed, 1987 c 403 art 2 s 164
Subd. 6. Service costs. Within the limits of available resources, the commissioner shall reimburse county agency expenditures for providing food stamp employment and training services including direct participation expenses and administrative costs. State food stamp employment and training funds shall be used only to pay the county agency's and food stamp employment and training service provider's actual costs of providing participant support services, direct program services, and program administrative costs for persons who participate in such employment and training services. The average annual reimbursable cost for providing food stamp employment and training services to a recipient for whom an individualized employability development plan is not completed must not exceed $60 for the food stamp employment and training services, and $340 for necessary recipient support services such as transportation or child care needed to participate in food stamp employment and training program. If an individualized employability development plan has been completed, the average annual reimbursable cost for providing food stamp employment and training services must not exceed $400 for all services and costs necessary to implement the plan, including the costs of training, employment search assistance, placement, work experience, on-the-job training, other appropriate activities, the administrative and program costs incurred in providing these services, and necessary recipient support services such as tools, clothing, and transportation needed to participate in food stamp employment and training services. The county agency may expend additional county funds over and above the dollar limits of this subdivision without state reimbursement.
Subd. 6a. Repealed, 1Sp1989 c 1 art 16 s 20 subd 3
Subd. 6b. Federal reimbursement. Federal financial participation from the United States Department of Agriculture for food stamp employment and training expenditures that are eligible for reimbursement through the food stamp employment and training program are dedicated funds and are annually appropriated to the commissioner of human services for the operation of the food stamp employment and training program. Federal financial participation for the nonstate portion of food stamp employment and training costs must be paid to the county agency that incurred the costs.
Subd. 7. Registrant status. A registrant under this section is not an employee for the purposes of workers' compensation, reemployment insurance benefits compensation, retirement, or civil service laws, and shall not perform work ordinarily performed by a regular public employee.
Subd. 8. Voluntary quit. A person who is required to participate in food stamp employment and training services is not eligible for food stamps if, without good cause, the person refuses a legitimate offer of, or quits, suitable employment within 60 days before the date of application. A person who is required to participate in food stamp employment and training services and, without good cause, voluntarily quits suitable employment or refuses a legitimate offer of suitable employment while receiving food stamps shall be terminated from the food stamp program as specified in subdivision 1a.
Subd. 9. Subcontractors. A county agency may, at its option, subcontract any or all of the duties under this section to a public or private entity approved by the commissioner of economic security.
Subd. 10. Repealed, 1995 c 178 art 6 s 18
Subd. 11. Repealed, 1987 c 403 art 2 s 164
Subd. 12. Repealed, 1987 c 403 art 2 s 164
Subd. 13. Repealed, 1995 c 178 art 6 s 18
Subd. 14. Repealed, 1995 c 178 art 6 s 18
Subd. 15. Repealed, 1995 c 178 art 6 s 18
Subd. 16. Repealed, 1991 c 292 art 5 s 82
Subd. 17. Start work grants. Within the limit of available appropriations, the county agency may make grants necessary to enable food stamp employment training program participants to accept bona fide offers of employment. The grants may be made for costs directly related to starting employment, including transportation costs, clothing, tools and equipment, license or other fees, and relocation. Start work grants are available once in any 12-month period to a participant. The commissioner shall allocate money appropriated for start work grants to counties based on each county's food stamp employment and training program caseload in the 12 months ending in March for each following state fiscal year and may reallocate any unspent amounts.
Subd. 18. Work experience placements. (a) To the extent of available resources, each county agency must establish and operate a work experience component in the food stamp employment and training program for recipients who are subject to a federal limit of three months of food stamp eligibility in any 36-month period. The purpose of the work experience component is to enhance the participant's employability, self-sufficiency, and to provide meaningful, productive work activities.
(b) The commissioner shall assist counties in the design and implementation of these components. The commissioner must ensure that job placements under a work experience component comply with section 256J.72. Written or oral concurrence with job duties of persons placed under the community work experience program shall be obtained from the appropriate exclusive bargaining representative.
(c) Worksites developed under this section are limited to projects that serve a useful public service such as health, social service, environmental protection, education, urban and rural development and redevelopment, welfare, recreation, public facilities, public safety, community service, services to aged or disabled citizens, and child care. To the extent possible, the prior training, skills, and experience of a recipient must be used in making appropriate work experience assignments.
(d) Structured, supervised volunteer work with an agency or organization that is monitored by the county service provider may, with the approval of the county agency, be used as a work experience placement.
(e) As a condition of placing a person receiving food stamps in a program under this subdivision, the county agency shall first provide the recipient the opportunity:
(1) for placement in suitable subsidized or unsubsidized employment through participation in job search under section 256D.051; or
(2) for placement in suitable employment through participation in on-the-job training, if such employment is available.
(f) The county agency shall limit the maximum monthly number of hours that any participant may work in a work experience placement to a number equal to the amount of the family's monthly food stamp allotment divided by the greater of the federal minimum wage or the applicable state minimum wage.
After a participant has been assigned to a position for nine months, the participant may not continue in that assignment unless the maximum number of hours a participant works is no greater than the amount of the food stamp benefit divided by the rate of pay for individuals employed in the same or similar occupations by the same employer at the same site.
(g) The participant's employability development plan must include the length of time needed in the work experience program, the need to continue job seeking activities while participating in work experience, and the participant's employment goals.
(h) After each six months of a recipient's participation in a work experience job placement, and at the conclusion of each work experience assignment under this section, the county agency shall reassess and revise, as appropriate, the participant's employability development plan.
(i) A participant has good cause for failure to cooperate with a work experience job placement if, in the judgment of the employment and training service provider, the reason for failure is reasonable and justified. Good cause for purposes of this section is defined in subdivision 1a, paragraph (b).
(j) A recipient who has failed without good cause to participate in or comply with the work experience job placement shall be terminated from participation in work experience job activities. If the recipient is not exempt from mandatory food stamp employment and training program participation under subdivision 3a, the recipient will be assigned to other mandatory program activities. If the recipient is exempt from mandatory participation but is participating as a volunteer, the person shall be terminated from the food stamp employment and training program.
Subd. 19. Waiver of service cost reimbursement limit for participants with significant barriers to employment. (a) To the extent of available resources, the commissioner may waive the $400 service cost limit specified in subdivision 6 for county agencies who propose to provide enhanced services under the food stamp employment and training program to hard-to-employ individuals. A "hard-to-employ individual" is defined as:
(1) a recipient of general assistance under this chapter; or
(2) an individual with at least one of the following three barriers to employment:
(i) the individual has not completed secondary school or obtained a general equivalency development diploma or an adult diploma, and has low skills in reading or mathematics;
(ii) the individual requires substance abuse treatment for employment; and
(iii) the individual has a poor work history.
(b) To obtain a waiver, the county agency must submit a waiver request to the commissioner. The request must specify:
(1) the number of hard-to-employ individuals the agency plans to serve;
(2) the nature of the enhanced employment and training services the agency will provide; and
(3) the agency's plan for providing referrals for substance abuse assessment and treatment for hard-to-employ individuals who require substance abuse treatment for employment.
HIST: 1Sp1985 c 9 art 2 s 60; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 9 s 75; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 403 art 3 s 33-37; 1989 c 282 art 5 s 52-65,133; 1Sp1989 c 1 art 16 s 12,22; 1990 c 568 art 4 s 26-30,84; 1991 c 292 art 5 s 36-42; 1992 c 513 art 8 s 19,20; 1Sp1993 c 1 art 6 s 31,32; 1Sp1993 c 6 s 15; 1994 c 483 s 1; 1995 c 178 art 6 s 2-13,17; 1996 c 465 art 3 s 33,34; 1997 c 66 s 80; 1997 c 85 art 3 s 35-38; 1998 c 407 art 6 s 15