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124D.42 Program provisions.

Subdivision 1. Participant eligibility. (a) An individual is eligible to participate in full-time youth community service if the individual:

(1) is at least 17 years old;

(2) is a citizen of the United States or lawfully admitted for permanent residency;

(3) is applying for service and has received a high school diploma or its equivalent, or agrees to attain a high school diploma or its equivalent while participating in the program; and

(4) agrees to act as an alumni volunteer or an alumni mentor upon successfully completing the program and postprogram education.

(b) An individual is eligible to participate in part-time youth community service if the individual is at least 15 years old and meets the requirements under paragraph (a), clauses (2) to (4).

Subd. 2. Terms of service. (a) A participant shall agree to perform community service for the period required unless the participant is unable to complete the terms of service for the reason provided in paragraph (b).

An agreement to perform community service must be in the form of a written contract between the participant and the grantee organization. Terms of the contract must include a length of service between six months and two years, the amount of the postservice benefit earned upon completion of the contracted length of service, the participant's education goals and commitment, the anticipated date of completion, dismissal for cause, including failure to fully participate in the education component, and the exclusive right to challenge a dismissal for cause through binding arbitration. The arbitrator must be chosen jointly by the grantee organization and the participant from the community or, if agreement cannot be reached, an arbitrator must be determined from a list of arbitrators provided by the American Arbitration Association. The sole remedy available to the participant through arbitration is reinstatement to the program and eligibility for postservice benefits. The parent or guardian of a minor shall consent in writing to the contract between the participant and the grantee organization.

(b) If the grantee organization releases a participant from completing a term of service in a program receiving assistance under sections 124D.39 to 124D.44 for compelling personal circumstances as demonstrated by the participant, or if the program in which the participant serves does not receive continued funding for any reason, the grantee organization may provide the participant with that portion of the financial assistance described in subdivision 3 that corresponds to the quantity of the service obligation completed by the individual.

If the grantee organization terminates a participant for cause or a participant resigns without demonstrating compelling personal circumstances under this section, no postservice benefit under subdivision 3 may be paid.

(c) A participant performing part-time service under sections 124D.37 to 124D.45 shall serve at least two weekends each month and two weeks during the year. A part-time participant shall serve at least 900 hours during a period of not more than two years, or three years if enrolled in an institution of higher education. A participant performing full-time service under sections 124D.37 to 124D.45 shall serve at least 1,700 hours during a period of not less than nine months, or more than one year.

(d) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, for purposes of tort liability under sections 3.732 and 3.736, while participating in a program a participant is an employee of the state.

(e) Participants performing community service in a program are not public employees for purposes of chapter 43A, 179A, 197, 353, or any other law governing hiring or discharging of public employees.

Subd. 3. Postservice benefit. (a) Each eligible organization must agree to provide to every participant who fulfills the terms of a contract under subdivision 2, a nontransferable postservice benefit. The benefit must be not less than $4,725 per year of full-time service or prorated for part-time service or for partial service of at least 900 hours. Upon signing a contract under subdivision 2, each eligible organization must deposit funds to cover the full amount of postservice benefits obligated, except for national education awards that are deposited in the national service trust fund. Funds encumbered in fiscal years 1994 and 1995 for postservice benefits must be available until the participants for whom the funds were encumbered are no longer eligible to draw benefits.

(b) Nothing in this subdivision prevents a grantee organization from using funds from nonfederal or nonstate sources to increase the value of postservice benefits above the value described in paragraph (a).

(c) The state must provide an additional postservice benefit to any participant who successfully completes the program. The benefit must be a credit of five points to be added to the competitive open rating of a participant who obtains a passing grade on a civil service examination under chapter 43A. The benefit is available for five years after completing the community service.

Subd. 4. Uses of postservice benefits. (a) A postservice benefit for a participant provided under subdivision 3, paragraph (a), (b), or (c), must be available for seven years after completing the program and may only be used for:

(1) paying a student loan;

(2) costs of attending an institution of higher education; or

(3) expenses incurred by a student in an approved youth apprenticeship program under sections 124D.46 to 124D.49 or in a registered apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Labor and Industry.

Financial assistance provided under this subdivision must be in the form of vendor payments whenever possible. Any postservice benefits provided by federal funds or vouchers may be used as a downpayment on, or closing costs for, purchasing a first home.

(b) Postservice benefits are to be used to develop skills required in occupations where numbers of jobs are likely to increase. The commission must determine how the benefits may be used in order to best prepare participants with skills that build on their service-learning and equip them for meaningful employment.

(c) The postservice benefit must not be included in determining financial need when establishing eligibility or award amounts for financial assistance programs under chapter 136A.

Subd. 5. Living allowance. (a) A participant in a full-time community service program shall receive a monthly stipend of not less than $500. An eligible organization may provide participants with additional amounts from nonstate sources. The amount of the living allowance may be prorated for part-time participants.

(b) Nothing in this subdivision requires an existing program to decrease any stipend, salary, or living allowance provided to a participant under the program.

(c) In addition to the living allowance provided under paragraph (a), a grantee organization shall provide health and child care coverage to each participant in a full-time youth works program who does not otherwise have access to health or child care coverage. The state must include the cost of group health and child care coverage in the grant to the eligible organization.

Subd. 6. Program training. (a) The commission must, within available resources, ensure an opportunity for each participant to have three weeks of training in a residential setting. If offered, each training session must:

(1) orient each participant in the nature, philosophy, and purpose of the program;

(2) build an ethic of community service through general community service training; and

(3) provide additional training as it determines necessary, which may include training in evaluating early literacy skills and teaching reading to preschool children through the St. Croix River Education District under Laws 2001, First Special Session chapter 6, article 2, section 70, to assist local Head Start organizations in establishing and evaluating Head Start programs for developing children's early literacy skills.

(b) Each grantee organization shall also train participants in skills relevant to the community service opportunity.

Subd. 7. Training and education requirements. Each grantee organization must assess the educational level of each entering participant. Each grantee shall work to enhance the educational skills of each participant. The commission may coordinate or contract with educational institutions or other providers for educational services and evaluation. All grantees shall give priority to educating and training participants who do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, or who cannot afford postsecondary training and education.

HIST: 1993 c 146 art 5 s 9,20; 1994 c 647 art 4 s 7; 1995 c 131 s 2; 1995 c 212 art 3 s 59; 1Sp1995 c 3 art 4 s 5-9,30; 1Sp1997 c 4 art 3 s 20; 1998 c 397 art 3 s 12-16,103; art 11 s 3; 1998 c 398 art 3 s 18; 2000 c 254 s 23-25; 2003 c 133 art 3 s 1; 1Sp2003 c 9 art 2 s 30

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Revisor of Statutes