(1) PENALTIES FOR NONPARTICIPATION IN WORK REQUIREMENTS AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH ALTERNATIVE REQUIREMENT PLANS.–The department shall establish procedures for administering penalties for nonparticipation in work requirements and failure to comply with the alternative requirement plan. If an individual in a family receiving temporary cash assistance fails to engage in work activities required in accordance with s. 445.024, the following penalties shall apply. Prior to the imposition of a sanction, the participant shall be notified orally or in writing that the participant is subject to sanction and that action will be taken to impose the sanction unless the participant complies with the work activity requirements. The participant shall be counseled as to the consequences of noncompliance and, if appropriate, shall be referred for services that could assist the participant to fully comply with program requirements. If the participant has good cause for noncompliance or demonstrates satisfactory compliance, the sanction shall not be imposed. If the participant has subsequently obtained employment, the participant shall be counseled regarding the transitional benefits that may be available and provided information about how to access such benefits. The department shall administer sanctions related to food assistance consistent with federal regulations.
(a)1. First noncompliance: temporary cash assistance shall be terminated for the family for a minimum of 10 days or until the individual who failed to comply does so.
2. Second noncompliance: temporary cash assistance shall be terminated for the family for 1 month or until the individual who failed to comply does so, whichever is later. Upon meeting this requirement, temporary cash assistance shall be reinstated to the date of compliance or the first day of the month following the penalty period, whichever is later.
3. Third noncompliance: temporary cash assistance shall be terminated for the family for 3 months or until the individual who failed to comply does so, whichever is later. The individual shall be required to comply with the required work activity upon completion of the 3-month penalty period, before reinstatement of temporary cash assistance. Upon meeting this requirement, temporary cash assistance shall be reinstated to the date of compliance or the first day of the month following the penalty period, whichever is later.
(b) If a participant receiving temporary cash assistance who is otherwise exempted from noncompliance penalties fails to comply with the alternative requirement plan required in accordance with this section, the penalties provided in paragraph (a) shall apply.
If a participant fully complies with work activity requirements for at least 6 months, the participant shall be reinstated as being in full compliance with program requirements for purpose of sanctions imposed under this section.
(2) CONTINUATION OF TEMPORARY CASH ASSISTANCE FOR CHILDREN; PROTECTIVE PAYEES.–
(a) Upon the second or third occurrence of noncompliance, temporary cash assistance and food assistance for the child or children in a family who are under age 16 may be continued. Any such payments must be made through a protective payee or, in the case of food assistance, through an authorized representative. Under no circumstances shall temporary cash assistance or food assistance be paid to an individual who has failed to comply with program requirements.
(b) Protective payees shall be designated by the department and may include:
1. A relative or other individual who is interested in or concerned with the welfare of the child or children and agrees in writing to utilize the assistance in the best interest of the child or children.
2. A member of the community affiliated with a religious, community, neighborhood, or charitable organization who agrees in writing to utilize the assistance in the best interest of the child or children.
3. A volunteer or member of an organization who agrees in writing to fulfill the role of protective payee and to utilize the assistance in the best interest of the child or children.
(c) The protective payee designated by the department shall be the authorized representative for purposes of receiving food assistance on behalf of a child or children under age 16. The authorized representative must agree in writing to use the food assistance in the best interest of the child or children.
(d) If it is in the best interest of the child or children, as determined by the department, for the staff member of a private agency, a public agency, the department, or any other appropriate organization to serve as a protective payee or authorized representative, such designation may be made, except that a protective payee or authorized representative must not be any individual involved in determining eligibility for temporary cash assistance or food assistance for the family, staff handling any fiscal processes related to issuance of temporary cash assistance or food assistance, or landlords, grocers, or vendors of goods, services, or items dealing directly with the participant.
(e) The department may pay incidental expenses or travel expenses for costs directly related to performance of the duties of a protective payee as necessary to implement the provisions of this subsection.
(3) PROPORTIONAL REDUCTION OF TEMPORARY CASH ASSISTANCE RELATED TO PAY AFTER PERFORMANCE.–Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), if an individual is receiving temporary cash assistance under a pay-after-performance arrangement and the individual participates, but fails to meet the full participation requirement, then the temporary cash assistance received shall be reduced and shall be proportional to the actual participation. Food assistance may be included in a pay-after-performance arrangement if permitted under federal law.
(4) EXCEPTIONS TO NONCOMPLIANCE PENALTIES.–Unless otherwise provided, the situations listed in this subsection shall constitute exceptions to the penalties for noncompliance with participation requirements, except that these situations do not constitute exceptions to the applicable time limit for receipt of temporary cash assistance:
(a) Noncompliance related to child care.–Temporary cash assistance may not be terminated for refusal to participate in work activities if the individual is a single parent caring for a child who has not attained 6 years of age, and the adult proves to the regional workforce board an inability to obtain needed child care for one or more of the following reasons, as defined in the Child Care and Development Fund State Plan required by 45 C.F.R. part 98:
1. Unavailability of appropriate child care within a reasonable distance from the individual’s home or worksite.
2. Unavailability or unsuitability of informal child care by a relative or under other arrangements.
3. Unavailability of appropriate and affordable formal child care arrangements.
(b) Noncompliance related to domestic violence.–An individual who is determined to be unable to comply with the work requirements because such compliance would make it probable that the individual would be unable to escape domestic violence shall be exempt from work requirements. However, the individual shall comply with a plan that specifies alternative requirements that prepare the individual for self-sufficiency while providing for the safety of the individual and the individual’s dependents. A participant who is determined to be out of compliance with the alternative requirement plan shall be subject to the penalties under subsection (1). An exception granted under this paragraph does not automatically constitute an exception to the time limitations on benefits specified under s. 414.105.
(c) Noncompliance related to treatment or remediation of past effects of domestic violence.–An individual who is determined to be unable to comply with the work requirements under this section due to mental or physical impairment related to past incidents of domestic violence may be exempt from work requirements, except that such individual shall comply with a plan that specifies alternative requirements that prepare the individual for self-sufficiency while providing for the safety of the individual and the individual’s dependents. A participant who is determined to be out of compliance with the alternative requirement plan shall be subject to the penalties under subsection (1). The plan must include counseling or a course of treatment necessary for the individual to resume participation. The need for treatment and the expected duration of such treatment must be verified by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459; a psychologist licensed under s. 490.005(1), s. 490.006, or the provision identified as s. 490.013(2) in s. 1, chapter 81-235, Laws of Florida; a therapist as defined in s. 491.003(2) or (6); or a treatment professional who is registered under s. 39.905(1)(g), is authorized to maintain confidentiality under s. 90.5036(1)(d), and has a minimum of 2 years experience at a certified domestic violence center. An exception granted under this paragraph does not automatically constitute an exception from the time limitations on benefits specified under s. 414.105.
(d) Noncompliance related to medical incapacity.–If an individual cannot participate in assigned work activities due to a medical incapacity, the individual may be excepted from the activity for a specific period, except that the individual shall be required to comply with the course of treatment necessary for the individual to resume participation. A participant may not be excused from work activity requirements unless the participant’s medical incapacity is verified by a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459, in accordance with procedures established by rule of the department. An individual for whom there is medical verification of limitation to participate in work activities shall be assigned to work activities consistent with such limitations. Evaluation of an individual’s ability to participate in work activities or development of a plan for work activity assignment may include vocational assessment or work evaluation. The department or a regional workforce board may require an individual to cooperate in medical or vocational assessment necessary to evaluate the individual’s ability to participate in a work activity.
(e) Noncompliance related to outpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment.–If an individual cannot participate in the required hours of work activity due to a need to become or remain involved in outpatient mental health or substance abuse counseling or treatment, the individual may be exempted from the work activity for up to 5 hours per week, not to exceed 100 hours per year. An individual may not be excused from a work activity unless a mental health or substance abuse professional recognized by the department or regional workforce board certifies the treatment protocol and provides verification of attendance at the counseling or treatment sessions each week.
(f) Noncompliance due to medical incapacity by applicants for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).–An individual subject to work activity requirements may be exempted from those requirements if the individual provides information verifying that he or she has filed an application for SSI disability benefits or SSDI disability benefits and the decision is pending development and evaluation under social security disability law, rules, and regulations at the initial reconsideration, administrative law judge, or Social Security Administration Appeals Council levels.
(g) Other good cause exceptions for noncompliance.–Individuals who are temporarily unable to participate due to circumstances beyond their control may be excepted from the noncompliance penalties. The department may define by rule situations that would constitute good cause. These situations must include caring for a disabled family member when the need for the care has been verified and alternate care is not available.
(5) WORK ACTIVITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PARENTS.–
(a) The court may order a parent who is delinquent in support payments, pursuant to the terms of a support order, to participate in work activities under this chapter, or as provided in s. 61.14(5)(b), so that the parent may obtain employment and fulfill the obligation to provide support payments. A parent who fails to satisfactorily engage in court-ordered work activities may be held in contempt.
(b) The court may order a parent to participate in work activities under this chapter if the child of the parent has been placed with a relative, in an emergency shelter, in foster care, or in other substitute care, and:
1. The case plan requires the parent to participate in work activities; or
2. The parent would be eligible to participate in work activities and subject to work activity requirements if the child were living with the parent.
If a parent fails to comply with the case plan, the parent may be removed from program participation.