IM-123 10/08/98 FAMILIES TOGETHER
|INCOME MAINTENANCE AND CHILDREN'S SERVICES ALTERNATIVE CARE HANDBOOK: REVISION OF D-1, ATTACHMENT A AND D-7. ADDITION OF D-1, ATTACHMENT M|
|The purpose of this memorandum is to introduce
Families Together policy. This policy provides for financial support
for families of children who are placed in out-of-home care.
In Missouri, about 40% of children entering out-of-home care exit care within 90 days; about 30% within the first month. When a family's financial assistance stops, this can create a barrier to expedited permanency. The intent of Families Together is to offer financial support to strengthen families who are experiencing a crisis.
This financial assistance can be provided at any point in time that there is a plan for reunification to occur within sixty (60) days. Include discussion of Families Together in planning with the family.
Families eligible for Families Together may be parent(s) and children, or children living with other related, or non-related caretakers. Use Temporary Assistance policy to determine if a caretaker is eligible. This policy is found at 0205.025.00 in the Temporary Assistance manual.
Children's Services and Income Maintenance have joint responsibility for the administration of Families Together policy. Families may receive payments for Families Together in the circumstances described below.
FAMILIES TOGETHER - AT THE TIME OF OUT OF HOME PLACEMENT
Families receiving a Temporary Assistance cash grant for a child who is removed from the home and placed in out-of-home care may continue to receive cash assistance for sixty (60) days for the child. This allows them to maintain a home and stability to which the child can return.
In order for a family to receive cash benefits for Families Together, there must be a clear plan to return the child to the home within sixty (60) days. This will be a plan agreed to during the 72-hour Family Support Team Meeting, or its equivalent, in counties not utilizing a Family Support Team.
The Income Maintenance SSCM or caseworker handling the family's application for Families Together participates in this meeting. The SSCM or caseworker's role is to provide expertise in the area of financial, medical and child care support available to the family through programs administered by Income Maintenance.
The monthly amount of cash assistance for Families Together will be the same amount the family received prior to the child(ren) entering alternative care. The family size used to determine the grant amount includes the child(ren) who is placed in out of home care.
If a child was included in a Temporary Assistance cash payment in the month s/he is placed in alternative care, the first month of eligibility for a Families Together payment is the month following the month the child leaves the home.
A Families Together payment may also be made for the second month following the child's placement, if the 60th day from the date of placement falls in that month. The child must be expected to return home by the 60th day.
If it is determined that the child will not return home by the 60th day, no additional Families Together payments will be made. It is imperative that IM and CS staff discuss this issue in order to give the family the best information possible.
FAMILIES TOGETHER - AT THE TIME A CHILD RETURNS HOME
Families may receive a Families Together
payment when there is a clear plan for a child who has been in alternative
care to return home within sixty (60) days.
The SSCM/caseworker's role is to provide expertise in the area of financial, medical and child care assistance, which may be available to the family. An assessment of the family's needs, and the supports that DFS can provide, should include both the sixty (60) day time period for Families Together assistance, and the time period after the child returns home.
These families may or may not be families who have received Temporary assistance in the past. They may also be families who have continued receiving Temporary Assistance for other children in the home.
It is the family's responsibility to apply for Families Together for the child. The Income Maintenance worker will have been involved in planning the child's return home and will know that the child will be living in the home within sixty (60) days from the date of the application for Families Together.
The normal application processing standard of 30 days from date of request is used for Families Together applications. All eligibility factors for Temporary Assistance apply to this program, except Child Living in the Home of Payee. These applications will be completed prior to the thirtieth day whenever possible.
If eligibility exists, approve the family for Families Together assistance. The Families Together payment is made for the month in which the 30th day from application falls, or the month of approval, whichever is earlier.
Complete Families Together approvals in IMU5 the same way Temporary Assistance approvals are completed. This is why these are reported and tracked manually.
A second Families Together payment may be made for the month following the month of approval when the child has not returned. This should occur within sixty (60) days from the date of application.
If the family is not receiving Temporary Assistance when applying for Families Together, the first payment will be an amount equal to a full month s grant for a Temporary Assistance family of the size that includes their child(ren).
If the family is receiving Temporary Assistance for children remaining in their home when they apply for Families Together, add the child(ren) who is returning home to the Temporary Assistance household in IMU5. Report the increase as the Families Together payment on the county's monthly report.
When the child returns home, Families Together payments cease. If eligibility continues to exist, payment is made in the form of Temporary Assistance. There should be no gap in cash assistance payments. The family does not need to Total months that the family receives only Families Together payments count as one (1) month toward the 60 month time limit for Temporary Assistance.
If it becomes known that the child will not be returning to the home by the previously planned date, eligibility for Families Together payments ceases. If this is known before any payment has been made, no payment will be made. If a payment has been made, no additional payment is to be made. No overpayment will be assessed against the family.
Children's Services will inform Income Maintenance at once when it is decided that a child will not return home as planned.
TRACKING AND RECORD KEEPING
It is not possible to identify these cases in the Income Maintenance computer system. Therefore, a manual record of the beginning and end dates for Families Together assistance must be maintained for each case that receives this type of assistance.
Use the form IM-34 to record beginning and end dates for Families Together payments. Also, maintain a log of Families Together payments containing the case name, case DCN, child's name and child's DCN, beginning and end dates for Families Together payments, and the amount of the payment. A sample of this form is attached.
For cases that continue to receive for other children in the home, the amount of the Families Together payment is the amount by which the Temporary Assistance grant would be reduced if the child(ren) was removed. For all others, it is the full grant amount paid.
Each county is to submit their log of Families Together payments, as described above, on the first working day of each month, showing all Families Together payments made during the previous month. It is absolutely crucial that this report be submitted every month. These cases will look exactly like Temporary Assistance cases in the IMU5 system. Without a paper record to show that payments made were for the Families Together program, it will not be possible to establish that payments made for a child in the same month in IM and Children's Services were correct, rather than an erroneous duplication.
IM Distribution #6
CS Distribution A