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In re: DCIS No. Redacted Redacted
Redacted, pro se, Appellant
Robert Golaszewski, Senior Social Worker, Division of Social Services
Christina Esposito, Employment Services Specialist, Employment Connections
Redacted ("Appellant") opposes a decision by the Division of Social Services ("DSS") to permanently terminate her TANF benefits based upon a third sanction. She maintains that she complied with Employment Connections (sometimes hereinafter "EC") in performing Work & Training activities.
The Division of Social Services ("DSS") contends that Appellant was advised with respect to her requirements under the Work and Training component of her benefits. As this was her third sanction, her case was subsequently closed and all TANF benefits were permanently terminated.
The Appellant was scheduled for Job Club on four (4) separate dates in September 2004. The Appellant failed to show and failed to call, despite knowing that she was required to attend. Appellant also failed to complete Job Search logs twice in September 2004. DSS sanctioned the Appellant on September 16, 2004, for failing to meet Work and Training rules and notified the Appellant that her TANF benefits would be permanently terminated on September 30, 2004, due to a third sanction. (Exhibit 3)
The Appellant filed a request for a fair hearing and requested that her benefits continue until a decision on the case is rendered. (Exhibit 2) Benefits have continued pending a hearing decision.
The Appellant was sent a certified letter dated October 28, 2004, that a fair hearing would be held on December 3, 2004. The hearing was conducted on that date at Carroll's Plaza, 1114 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19901.
This is the decision resulting from that hearing.
(The hearing case filed was inadvertently misplaced. The decision is based upon a copy of the case file and a review of the taped hearing. Exhibits are noted in the decision, based upon the tape recording)
On September 16, 2004, Appellant was sanctioned for a third time for failure to attend Job Club and return Job Search logs. The Appellant was sent a notice that her TANF case would be permanently closed effective September 30, 2004. On September 28, 2004, Appellant filed a request for a fair hearing and requested that benefits continue pending a hearing decision. (Exhibit 2) Benefits have continued pending a hearing decision.
Appellant filed an application for benefits and was advised that she needed to attend an orientation with Employment Connections, a company contracted by DSS to handle Work & Training activities. On August 26, 2004, Appellant attended her orientation and advised the Employment Connections personnel that she was employed. On August 30, 2004, Appellant notified EC personnel that she was no longer employed. Appellant was told that she needed to attend Job Club and complete Job Search logs. (Exhibit 4) The Appellant was scheduled to attend Job Club on September 1, 3, 8, & 10 and to complete and turn in Job Search logs on September 3 and 10. The Appellant attended none of the Job Clubs, returned neither of the Job Search logs, and failed to communicate to EC that she was unable to do what was required of her. The EC worker did testify that on September 2, 2004 the Appellant advised her that she had a son with disabilities and that she would occasionally be taking him to the doctor. The Appellant was advised that she needed to advise her worker when she could not make an EC appointment and that she had to document any doctor appointments.
The DSS worker testified that he received a referral from Employment Connections to apply a sanction to the Appellant's case for failure to attend Job Club and return completed Job Search logs. The Appellant testified that she told EC about doctor appointments for her child and that she got a job in September so that she did not have to participate. Appellant produced a letter at the hearing indicating that she had doctor appointments on September 9, 10, 14, & 23. (Exhibit 5) she also testified that she had other appointments that she had not provided documentation for.
DSS sent a Verification of Employment form to the Appellant's employer, who noted that she began her employment on October 16, 2004. (Exhibit 6) DSS determined that this was well after her non-compliance with EC requirements.
The Division of Social Services operates the TANF Program (A Better Chance); a welfare reform effort based upon the idea that this is a transitional benefit and should not become a way of life. DSS maintains that the way for persons to avoid TANF dependency is for them to find and maintain employment. 3006 DSSM.
Under 3011.1, a participant in the TANF program is required to keep appointments with employment and training staff unless they have good cause for not doing so pursuant to DSSM 3001(I). Under this section, an adult recipient may have legitimate reasons for not cooperating whether in the development of the Contract of Mutual Responsibility or in the execution of the requirements under the contract. "Good Cause" is defined as when either a condition or circumstance exists in either their personal or family situation beyond which they have no control and which would prevent cooperation or participation.
Here, the Appellant does not deny that she failed to attend the mandatory Job Club sessions or complete the Job Search logs, rather she explained that she was taking her child to the doctor and was therefore unable to comply. Under the Contract of Mutual Responsibility the Appellant was required to cooperate with Employment Connections or be subject to sanction. Cooperation means that the Appellant must keep appointments with the Work and Training Staff, assist in the development of an Employability Plan and participate in Work and Training activities. Here, there is no credible evidence to show anything but Appellant's continued failure to cooperate with her Work and Training requirements.
Pursuant to 3011.2 DSSM, Appellant's case was closed. That section mandates that the penalty for individuals who obtain a third sanction, as the Appellant did, is a loss of all cash benefits.
DSS has provided credible evidence that the Appellant was aware of her responsibilities under the TANF program, and failed to cooperate with Employment Connections which resulted in a third sanction. Therefore, the decision by DSS to terminate Appellant's benefits for a third sanction is sustained on the record.
For these reasons, the decision of the Division of Social Services to permanently terminate Appellant's TANF benefits is AFFIRMED.
Date: January 21, 20053
MICHAEL L. STEINBERG
THE FOREGOING IS THE FINAL DECISION OF THE DIVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Robert Golaszewski, DSS Pool 710
Christina Esposito, Employment Connections
EXHIBITS FILED IN OR FOR THE PROCEEDING