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1500 Eligibility for Child Protective Services

1510 Foster Care Assistance

CPS September 2017

Foster Care Assistance consists of daily care (such as food, clothes and shelter) and medical coverage provided through Title IV-E or medical assistance only (MAO) foster care.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.315

1511 Applying for Foster Care Assistance

CPS September 2017

Role of the Child’s Caseworker

Within 10 calendar days after the child’s initial placement, the child’s caseworker must:

  •   complete the Foster Care Assistance Application in the IMPACT case management system and submit it to the foster care eligibility specialist; and

  •   send the following documentation to the foster care eligibility specialist:

  •   A copy of the court order designating DFPS as the child’s managing conservator

  •   A copy of the affidavit and original petition that initiated the court action, with the date that the petition was filed indicated on the petition

  •   Documentation of the child’s birth, if obtained from the family. If not obtained at removal, the foster care eligibility specialist completes an inquiry in the DSHS system for children born in Texas, as stated in 1512 Determining Eligibility

  •   Documentation of the child’s citizenship or alien status

Foreign-born children may also have legal immigration standing in the United States or have dual citizenship status in the United States and another country. For a foreign-born child, the caseworker must request that the parent or caretaker provide proof of the child’s immigration status. If the caseworker experiences difficulty with this issue, the caseworker must consult with the designated regional immigration specialist.

If the Child Does Not Have a Social Security Number

If the child’s caseworker determines that the child has never had a Social Security number (SSN) issued by the Social Security Administration, the child’s caseworker must complete the Social Security Administration’s Form SS-5 and coordinate with the regional Supplemental Security Income (SSI) coordinator and other regional staff to process the request for an SSN. The SSI coordinator or eligibility specialist must send the SSN to the caseworker when it is received.

1512 Determining Eligibility

CPS September 2017

Role of the Eligibility Specialist

Within seven calendar days after receiving the Foster Care Assistance Application and related documentation from the child’s caseworker, the foster care eligibility specialist must:

  •   obtain the birth verification for children born in Texas from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Bureau of Vital Statistics (BVS) System, if the caseworker does not provide birth verification. The BVS record also serves as verification of the child’s U.S. citizenship status. Eligibility staff prints the child’s birth record from the BVS and scans and emails a copy to the caseworker;

  •   verify the child’s Social Security number (SSN) and receipt of Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits through use of SSA’s Wire Third Party Query System (WTPY) system and include a print-out in the child’s eligibility file. If the eligibility specialist determines that the child has never had an SSN issued by the Social Security Administration, the specialist must contact the child’s caseworker to complete the Social Security Administration’s Form SS-5 and to coordinate with the regional supplemental security income (SSI) coordinator and other regional staff to process the request for an SSN;

  •   perform searches in the Health and Human Services Commission’s (HHSC’s) Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign Project (TIERS), the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG’s) Child Support and the Data Broker systems to obtain the child and family’s income and resource information during the month removal court proceedings were initiated;

  •   determine the child’s eligibility by processing the Foster Care Assistance Application in IMPACT;

  •   record the child’s eligibility in IMPACT; and

  •   place all documents related to the eligibility determination in the child’s eligibility file.

1512.1 Consistency With Income and Resources Information

CPS September 2017

When completing an eligibility determination the eligibility specialist must always review the following documents to ensure consistency with the information recorded on the Foster Care Assistance Application:

  •   Affidavit

  •   Original petition

  •   Initial removal order

If items affecting the child’s foster care eligibility are found to be inconsistent between these documents, or within the Foster Care Assistance Application itself, the eligibility specialist must:

  •   contact the caseworker to get clarification on which information is correct; and

  •   update the appropriate section on the Foster Care Assistance Application.

Examples of Inconsistent Documentation

  •   Documentation in one place states that the adult the child was living with at the time of removal was the grandparent and in another place the child’s adoptive parent.

      The eligibility specialist must correctly assess the relationship of that adult to the child to determine whether the adult’s income should be counted for IV-E eligibility.

  •   Documentation that the parent meets the underemployed parent criteria is not consistent.

      The eligibility specialist must resolve this conflict in order to correctly determine whether deprivation existed.

1512.2 Unknown Family Income on the Foster Care Assistance Application

CPS September 2017

The child’s and the family’s income information reported on the Foster Care Assistance Application in IMPACT is used to determine a child’s initial eligibility for Title IV-E foster care assistance. In situations in which the child’s and family’s income is unknown, staff must use the following procedures when completing the Foster Care Assistance Application.

Actions by the Child’s Caseworker

The child’s worker must record all known income information on the Foster Care Assistance Application before submitting it to the foster care eligibility specialist through IMPACT. If the child’s caseworker does not have specific income information, the caseworker must contact the family to ask their monthly earnings amounts and the amounts of income they receive from another source.

Actions by the Eligibility Specialist

If the foster care eligibility specialist receives a Foster Care Assistance Application that indicates the parent worked or had earnings, but no specific income amounts are listed on the affidavit, or other case documentation states that the parent worked or had income, the eligibility specialist must:

  •   contact the child’s caseworker to request specific information from the family to address the income or earnings included on the application, affidavit or case documentation;

  •   follow up with the child’s caseworker to obtain the requested information by the day the child’s foster care assistance certification is due; and

  •   document all efforts to obtain information in the eligibility file.

Other Means to Address Income

The eligibility specialist uses the information available below to address the family’s income:

  •   the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign Project (TIERS) system;

  •   the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) child support system;

  •   the Wire Third Party Query (WTPY) system (see 1515 Notifications to SSA and Use of the Wire Third Party Query System;

  •   the Data Broker system, when applicable; and

  •   the caseworker’s affidavit.

The eligibility specialist must use the income information on the HHSC TIERS system only if the certification period of the HHSC case began in the same month the child entered foster care.

The eligibility specialist must only use the WTPY system to:

  •   obtain information about the child in DFPS conservatorship; and

  •   obtain information that is current to the month the child entered foster care.

The eligibility specialist must include in the child’s eligibility file screen prints of TIERS, the OAG system, Data Broker when applicable, and WTPY verifications.

1512.3 Zero Family Income on the Foster Care Assistance Application

CPS September 2017

The income information of the child and family reported on the Foster Care Assistance Application in IMPACT is used to determine a child’s initial eligibility for Title IV-E foster care assistance. When the family reports having $0 total income, the child’s caseworker who completes the Foster Care Assistance Application must provide an explanation of how the family’s monthly living expenses including housing, food and clothing are being met.

Explanations may include citing the family’s income or non-monetary assistance with living expenses received from the following sources:

  •   Federal, state, or local government benefits

  •   Part-time or odd jobs

  •   Other people who live inside or outside the home

The caseworker must ask the parent for monthly income amounts received from these sources and must list these amounts as income on the Foster Care Assistance Application. If the parent says he or she earns money from working part-time or odd jobs, the caseworker must ask for an average monthly earnings amount.

Determining Subsistence

The foster care eligibility specialist must ensure that every Foster Care Assistance Application listing $0 family income addresses the family’s manner of subsistence. If an eligibility specialist receives an application with $0 family income listed and the manner of the subsistence question is not addressed, the eligibility specialist must use information from the following sources to address the family’s manner of subsistence:

  •   the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign Project (TIERS) system;

   •  the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) child support system;

 •    the Wire Third Party Query (WTPY) system, accessed only for children in DFPS conservatorship. See 1515 Notifications to SSA and Use of the Wire Third Party Query System;

  •   the Data Broker system, when applicable; and

  •   the caseworker’s affidavit.

If family income is identified through inquiries in these systems, the eligibility specialist must update the Foster Care Assistance Application to show these income amounts and process the Foster Care Assistance Application.

Unable to Determine Family’s Subsistence

If the eligibility specialist cannot address the family’s manner of subsistence using the above databases, the eligibility specialist must:

  •   contact the child’s caseworker to request additional needed information;

  •   use the information provided by the child’s caseworker to address the family’s manner of subsistence; and

  •   certify the child for Title IV-E provided that all other IV-E requirements are met.

If the eligibility specialist initially determines a child eligible for state-paid funds and the caseworker provides additional information, the eligibility specialist must re-evaluate the child for IV-E eligibility.

1513 Data Broker

CPS September 2017

The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Data Broker system is used to verify earnings of household members for Title IV-E eligibility purposes. Employers report the information to the Texas Workforce Commission on a quarterly basis. Foster Care eligibility specialists query the system, when applicable, six months after the child’s initial eligibility determination.

Appendix 1530-H: Data Broker Verification Procedures explains the circumstances under which eligibility staff perform a Data Broker inquiry and the actions they take if the results affect a child’s foster care eligibility. If the child’s eligibility must be changed due to the Data Broker results, the eligibility specialist must:

  •   process a new Foster Care Assistance Application to adjust the child’s eligibility; and

  •   adjust the child’s eligibility back to the initial eligibility determination date.

The eligibility specialist must certify a child eligible for state-paid assistance if information in the Foster Care Assistance Application, case documentation, or affidavit indicates that the parent or parents:

  •   worked; or

  •   refused to provide income information, and the parent’s income could not be verified through any source, including Data Broker.

1514 Annual Review of Eligibility

CPS September 2017

Role of the Child’s Caseworker

DFPS must review the child’s eligibility for IV-E or Medicaid at least once every 12 months while the child is in foster care. The child’s caseworker receives an IMPACT Task To-Do when a foster care review is due for the child. To complete the review, the child’s caseworker must:

  •   complete the Foster Care Review in IMPACT and submit it to the assigned foster care eligibility specialist;

  •   send the eligibility specialist copies of all child-specific court orders since the previous review or initial determination; and

  •   send the eligibility specialist documentation of the child’s citizenship or alien status, if new documentation has been obtained since the previous foster care review or initial eligibility determination.

Role of the Eligibility Specialist

The foster care eligibility specialist must:

  •   review all documentation sent by the caseworker;

  •   determine the child’s continued eligibility for IV-E, including the required judicial permanency findings, by processing the Foster Care Review in IMPACT;

  •   determine eligibility for Medicaid assistance for state-paid cases based on policy at 1535.1 Medicaid Eligibility Types due to changes to the child’s citizenship status (for example, DFPS might obtain a document verifying U.S. citizenship for a child who previously had a status of Undetermined);

  •   record the child’s eligibility in IMPACT; and

  •   place all documents related to the eligibility redetermination in the child’s eligibility file.

1515 Notifications to SSA and Use of the Wire Third Party Query System

CPS September 2017

Notify SSA When a Child Who Receives Benefits Enters Conservatorship

DFPS must promptly notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) when a child who receives SSA benefits is placed in DFPS conservatorship. These benefits include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI). Prompt notification prevents benefit overpayment to ineligible payees.

The regional SSI coordinator must notify SSA when the coordinator is informed or determines that a child in conservatorship receives SSA benefits.

Upon notification, SSA suspends the child’s benefits pending receipt of the application by DFPS to be representative payee for the benefits.

Access SSA’s Wire Third Party Query System for Benefits Information

The Wire Third Party Query System (WTPY) provides staff with access to SSI and RSDI benefit information from SSA, and allows staff to determine if a child in DFPS conservatorship is a current or former recipient of federal benefits. This enables the SSI coordinator to promptly:

  •   notify SSA that the child is now in DFPS custody and that DFPS should be named representative payee for his or her benefits; or

  •   reapply to SSA for the child’s benefits with DFPS as representative payee.

Use of the WTPY system is based on the Agreement Between the Social Security Administration and the State of Texas. DFPS staff may only use the system to query on children in DFPS conservatorship. The WTPY system is used to determine if a child is a current or former recipient of federal benefits.

HHSC Benefit Searches Versus WTPY Queries

Foster care eligibility staff must complete a WTPY query on all children as part of the initial foster care assistance application process. The specialist must include a screen print of the WPTY search in the child’s eligibility file to verify whether a child is receiving benefits.

If it is verified through WTPY or other means that a child is receiving federal benefits, the eligibility specialist must notify the regional SSI coordinator by the close of business the following day after the verification is received. The SSI coordinator files an application with SSA for DFPS to become the representative payee for the benefits.

For procedures to obtain WTPY security from SSA or for lockouts and other system problems, see Appendix 1514: Requesting Wire Third Party (WTPY) System Access.

1516 Foster Care Eligibility Case Record

CPS September 2017

Staff must maintain a foster care eligibility case record if a child is certified for Title IV-E state-paid, or Medical Assistance Only (MAO) foster care. Staff include the following documents in the foster care eligibility record:

  •   IMPACT Foster Care Assistance Application

  •   IMPACT Foster Care Review

  •   Original petition and affidavit of removal order

  •   All court orders in chronological order with most recent order on top

  •   Copies of child’s birth verification or birth certificate

  •   Copies of child’s SSN verification, or a copy of the child’s Social Security Card

  •   Miscellaneous items and internal and external correspondence

  •   Placement and Service Level List pages from IMPACT

  •   Eligibility Summary List pages from IMPACT

  •   Extended foster care documents, if child is over 18 years of age

  •   Eligibility inquires, including screenshots of external databases

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