Department of Human Services
Families First Online Policy Manual
Rights and Responsibilities
FAMILIES FIRST REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS REQUIREMENTS
The Families First program and Families First work activity contractors must make a range of reasonable accommodations for clients with disabilities and/or those caring for family members with disabilities. Providing accommodations is the most effective way to prevent non-compliance with program requirements. DHS and its contractors are required to provide reasonable accommodations to applicants/recipients with a disability to ensure that they have equal access to benefits and services. “Reasonable accommodation” is defined as any reasonable change made in the way the Families First Program policies or program participation guidelines are applied to individual clients.
Some clients who have a disability or who have a family member with a disability may not need an ongoing accommodation to participate in the program upon entering the program, but can instead be granted good cause during participation in the program, as needed, because of their inability to participate due to compelling circumstances. In addition to granting “good cause” to clients who are unable to comply with program requirements, DHS will provide an initial screening to all applicants and a secondary screening to clients with a work requirement or who wish to volunteer. These screenings have been put in place to identify possible impairments and to evaluate a client’s need for accommodations. The accommodations screenings will be done prior to assigning work activities to ensure that all recommended accommodations are considered.
Reasonable accommodations can include, but are not limited to, the following accommodations in work activities:
· Modifying existing facilities to make them accessible.
· Acquiring or modifying equipment.
· Providing readers or sign language interpreters.
· Giving temporary or permanent exemptions from work activities.
· Scheduling a work activity to accommodate an individual’s need for medical, mental health, substance abuse treatment, or rehabilitation.
· Providing work activities with flexible hours.
· Making other certain reasonable modifications to program requirements to ensure the disabled applicant/recipient’s ability to have equal rights to the program’s benefits.
Reasonable accommodations can include, but are not limited to, the following accommodations in program requirements other than work activities:
· Providing home and off-site visits, telephone interviews, and the right to use an authorized representative for clients who cannot attend face-to-face appointments.
· Helping clients to apply for benefits and to acquire documents to establish eligibility or verify the need for an accommodation.
· Providing notice verbally to those the agency knows will be unable to understand a written notice, through phone calls or personal visits.
· Scheduling appointments that do not conflict with known medical or mental health appointments.
· A student with a disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), who will not complete high school or an equivalent vocational/technical training before turning 19, is eligible for Families First benefits through the month of his/her 19th birthday. Bulletin 01, FA-09-01
Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, the following accommodations for clients who are not otherwise exempt, but who are caring for in-home family members with disabilities:
· Providing a temporary exemption or delay in beginning work activities until specialized child care can be located.
· Providing a work exemption for those clients who care full time for an in-home disabled relative. Bulletin 33, FA-07-14
Accommodations are designed and granted on a case-by-case basis to address special needs and to guarantee that every applicant/recipient has full access to the Families First Program. It is important to remember that there can be more than one reasonable accommodation and that the specific accommodation a client requests may not be the best one for his/her situation. In addition, accommodations must be reviewed by the caseworker at each renewal and by the client rep at each bi-monthly contact to ensure that the accommodation continues to be appropriate to the client’s needs. Bulletin 33, FA-07-14
At each client contact, ensure that the individual has all the information and assistance from the Department that is needed to complete the application, interview, or other action before ending the conversation.
Accommodations should be offered when:
· The client requests accommodations based on a disability or impairment that will prevent access to our services.
· The DHS staff member (caseworker, client rep, counselor, front desk staff, etc.) or contractor is concerned that the individual may not understand the application, verification, or renewal instructions, or other program requirements.
· The DHS staff member is concerned that the individual may not complete the application or renewal without these accommodations.
· The DHS staff member (caseworker, client rep, counselor, front desk staff, etc.) or contractor is concerned that the individual may not be able to perform a work requirement. Bulletin 33, FA-07-14
· The program’s policies dictate that a waiver from the office interview is appropriate.
· Other circumstances or information lead DHS staff to think that accommodations are needed.
All clients must have access to our standard services. While accommodations must be offered to those in need of them, these specialized services are a client option, not a requirement.