Saturday, May 06, 2006

Interviews for TANF

One of the more frustrating changes in the local offices was the change that no longer required an interview for TANF.  I don't mean a face to face interview, I mean no interview at all.
I find this amazing.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.  Considering the complex policy that surrounds the TANF program- the many things clients must comply with in order to be and remain eligible.  
What is most confusing to me is the reason.  I mean, let's stop and think- a worker gets an application.  We are supposed to look at that application and determine that the client is or is not eligible- send a packet of information to the client that they may or may not read- and hold the case for up to 39 days. 
What happened to client education?  what happened to explaining the PRA.  What happens the first time a client gets penalized and CUT OFF of TANF because they didn't comply with immunizations, or Texas Health Steps, or Choices- and it's really because they didn't understand HOW to comply with those things, because no one has ever explained it to them.
I have always prided myself on having the skills to explain things to clients so that we are both on one accord.  I explain the Child Support Requirements.  I explain the Choices Participation requirements.  I have never EVER had a client get angry for being penalized because they didn't know or understand- not if I interviewed them anyway.
Now we get an app where the client may or may not have checked TANF in error, may or may not have included all their income/household comp on the 1010 - we may send a packet of what feels like 100 pieces of paper/forms and then may or may not certify the case incorrectly- and why?  Because we have never even talked to the person we are certifying.  This is proper spending of State Money?  This is keeping the integrity of the program intact? 
I think not.

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Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I don't even like the idea of telephone interviews for food stamps, But that's something that I guess we'll have to get used to.
Probably half of the applications that I get with TANF or OTTANF checked off are in error, the client was just wondering about it, and checked it "just because."
If I have the time, I try to call the client and be sure of the intent, to be sure all income was put on the application, and explain the requirements to comply with the different entities. Once this is explained, they either say nevermind, or they know what's up, and are expecting the packet of 5,364 forms and notices.
One of my concerns is the medicaid process. If a client applies for multiple programs, 9 times out of 10 I can have them a Medicaid card by the time they leave the office. Why do "they" insist on making clients wait 45 to 60 (or more) days when most of the time they are applying because the child is in need of medical attention?
Okay, I'm done venting for awhile. I was sent the addy for this Blog by a friend, and I think it's great.
Hopefully things will settle out soon, and workers will be able to get back to what they actually hired on with the agency in the first place, to help people.

hhscsurvivalist said...

We have noticed in our office that those clients who checked TANF on their apps actually have income they did not list on the 1010, or the AP is actually in the home, which was also not listed. The only way we have caught these is because those clients missed that appt, we sent the 1020 for information on the TANF case but pended for the missed appt for FS. Client rescheduled and requested the face-to-face interview - The worker caught it there!
My belief is that we were told we didn't have to do face-to-face TANF as another way to set up the call centers to take over. After all, who needs a local office in their area when the call center will do it all? Yeah, right! The call centers are really proving themselves (in)capable!

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm glad someone else is as pissed off about this as me. I even sent an email to my PM asking for clarification from Austin simply because the PRA itself stipulates that clients will "Keep or reschedule all appointments." Would we not consider this as a requirement for TANF since it is part of the PRA?!? Why would we follow up a missed appointment for review with a letter requesting information when the PRA is so specific?!?!? Needless to say, the response I got back from my PM was because Austin said so.

I mean, I'm a college educated adult who has been working for the state of Texas for over 25 years - don't treat me like I'm a child. And don't sugar coat it.

It's obvious to me that darling Albert not only has no clue what the PRA says (he's never read it - I bet you) he has no clue what we do in the field. He would never darken the door of a field office to find out either.

I'm grateful that his days are numbered - after all, his job is appointed by the governor and good old Governor Good Hair won't be around much longer. . .

I just cringe at the thought that he would still go back to DC and work for the shrub.