HUMAN RESOURCES CODE


TITLE 2. DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND DEPARTMENT OF PROTECTIVE AND REGULATORY SERVICES


SUBTITLE C. ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS


CHAPTER 31. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND SERVICE PROGRAMS


SUBCHAPTER A. ELIGIBILITY FOR FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND SERVICES


Sec. 31.001. AID TO FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN. The department shall provide financial assistance and services to families with dependent children in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. The department shall give first priority in administering this chapter to assisting an adult recipient of or unemployed applicant for the financial assistance and services in finding and retaining a job.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2343, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.002. DEFINITION OF DEPENDENT CHILD. (a) In this chapter, the term "dependent child" applies to a child:

(1) who is a resident of this state;

(2) who is under 18 years of age or is under 19 years of age and is a full-time student in a secondary school or at the equivalent level of vocational or technical training if, before the child's 19th birthday, the child may reasonably be expected to complete the secondary school or training program;

(3) who has been deprived of parental support or care because of the death, continued absence from home, or physical or mental incapacity of a parent;

(4) who has insufficient income or other resources to provide a reasonable subsistence compatible with health and decency; and

(5) who is living in the home residence of his or her father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister, stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother, stepsister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, or niece.

(b) In this chapter, the term "dependent child" also applies to a child:

(1) who meets the specifications set forth in Subdivisions (1)-(4) of the preceding subsection;

(2) who has been removed from the home of a relative specified in Subdivision (5) of the preceding subsection as a result of a judicial determination that the child's residence there is contrary to his or her welfare;

(3) whose placement and care are the responsibility of the department, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, or an agency with which the department or the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services has entered into an agreement for the care and supervision of the child;

(4) who has been placed in a foster home or child-care institution by the department or the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services; and

(5) for whom the state may receive federal funds for the purpose of providing foster care in accordance with rules promulgated by the department.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2343, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 395, Sec. 1, eff. June 2, 1993; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 8.014, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0021. DEFINITION OF NONRECIPIENT PARENT. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), in this chapter, "nonrecipient parent" means an adult or minor parent who is not a recipient of financial assistance but who is living with the person's child who is a recipient of financial assistance.

(b) "Nonrecipient parent" does not include:

(1) a minor parent who is not the head of household;

(2) a person who is ineligible for financial assistance because of the person's immigration status; or

(3) a parent who cares for a disabled family member living in the home if the family member does not attend school full-time and the need for the care is supported by medical documentation.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 31.003. AMOUNT OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. (a) The department shall adopt rules governing the determination of the amount of financial assistance to be granted for the support of a dependent child. The amount granted, when combined with the income and other resources available for the child's support, must be sufficient to provide the child with a subsistence compatible with decency and health.

(b) In considering the amount of income or other resources available to a child or a relative claiming financial assistance on the child's behalf, the department shall also consider reasonable expenses attributable to earning the income. The department may permit all or part of the earned or other income to be set aside for the future identifiable needs of the child, subject to limitations prescribed by the department.

(c) The department's agents employed in the region or county in which the dependent child resides shall determine the amount to be paid in accordance with the rules promulgated by the department.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2343, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.0031. RESPONSIBILITY AGREEMENT. (a) The department shall require each adult recipient to sign a bill of responsibilities that defines the responsibilities of the state and of the recipient and encourages personal responsibility. The department shall explain to the applicant the work requirements and time-limited benefits in addition to the other provisions of the agreement before the applicant signs the agreement. The department shall provide each applicant with a copy of the signed agreement. The agreement shall include pertinent case information, including the case number and a listing of the state's benefits.

(b) The responsibilities of the state shall include administering programs, within available resources, that:

(1) promote clear and tangible goals for recipients;

(2) enable parents to provide for their children's basic necessities in a time-limited benefits program;

(3) promote education, job training, and workforce development;

(4) support the family structure through life and parenting skills training;

(5) are efficient, fraud-free, and easily accessible by recipients;

(6) gather accurate client information; and

(7) give communities the opportunity to develop alternative programs that meet the unique needs of local recipients.

(c) The department shall adopt rules governing sanctions and penalties under this section to or for:

(1) a person who fails to cooperate with each applicable requirement of the responsibility agreement prescribed by this section; and

(2) the family of a person who fails to cooperate with each applicable requirement of the responsibility agreement.

(d) The responsibility agreement shall require that:

(1) the parent of a dependent child cooperate with the department and the Title IV-D agency if necessary to establish the paternity of the dependent child and to establish or enforce child support;

(2) if adequate and accessible providers of the services are available in the geographic area and subject to the availability of funds, each dependent child, as appropriate, complete early and periodic screening, diagnosis, and treatment checkups on schedule and receive the immunization series prescribed by Section 161.004, Health and Safety Code, unless the child is exempt under that section;

(3) each adult recipient, or teen parent recipient who has completed the requirements regarding school attendance in Subdivision (6), not voluntarily terminate paid employment of at least 30 hours each week without good cause in accordance with rules adopted by the department;

(4) each adult recipient for whom a needs assessment is conducted participate in an activity to enable that person to become self-sufficient by:

(A) continuing the person's education or becoming literate;

(B) entering a job placement or employment skills training program;

(C) serving as a volunteer in the person's community; or

(D) serving in a community work program or other work program approved by the department;

(5) each caretaker relative or parent receiving assistance not use, sell, or possess marihuana or a controlled substance in violation of Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, or abuse alcohol;

(6) each dependent child younger than 18 years of age or teen parent younger than 19 years of age attend school regularly, unless the child has a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate or is specifically exempted from school attendance under Section 25.086, Education Code;

(7) each recipient comply with department rules regarding proof of school attendance; and

(8) each recipient attend appropriate parenting skills training classes, as determined by the needs assessment.

(e) In conjunction with the Texas Education Agency, the department by rule shall ensure compliance with the school attendance requirements of Subsection (d)(6) by establishing criteria for:

(1) determining whether a child is regularly attending school;

(2) exempting a child from school attendance in accordance with Subchapter C, Chapter 25, Education Code; and

(3) determining when an absence is excused.

(f) The department by rule may provide for exemptions from Subsection (d)(4) or for a teen parent under Subsection (d)(6). The department may not require participation in an activity under Subsection (d)(4) or for a teen parent under Subsection (d)(6) if funding for support services is unavailable.

(g) In this section:

(1) "Caretaker relative" means a person who is listed as a relative eligible to receive assistance under 42 U.S.C. Section 602(a).

(2) "Payee" means a person who resides in a household with a dependent child and who is within the degree of relationship with the child that is required of a caretaker but whose needs are not included in determining the amount of financial assistance provided for the person's household.

(h) The department shall require each payee to sign a bill of responsibilities that defines the responsibilities of the state and of the payee. The responsibility agreement must require that a payee comply with the requirements of Subsections (d)(1), (2), (5), (6), and (7).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 2.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 6.53, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 682, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.86(a), 2.87, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0032. PAYMENT OF ASSISTANCE FOR PERFORMANCE. (a) Except as provided by Section 231.115, Family Code, if after an investigation the department or the Title IV-D agency determines that a person is not cooperating with a requirement of the responsibility agreement required under Section 31.0031, the department shall immediately apply a sanction terminating the total amount of financial assistance provided under this chapter to or for the person and the person's family.

(a-1) The department shall apply a sanction or penalty imposed under Subsection (a) for a period ending when the person demonstrates cooperation with the requirement of the responsibility agreement for which the sanction was imposed or for a one-month period, whichever is longer.

(b) The department shall immediately notify the caretaker relative, second parent, or payee receiving the financial assistance if the department will not make the financial assistance payment for the period prescribed by Subsection (a-1) because of a person's failure to cooperate with the requirements of the responsibility agreement during a month.

(c) To the extent allowed by federal law, the Health and Human Services Commission or any health and human services agency, as defined by Section 531.001, Government Code, may deny medical assistance for a person who is eligible for financial assistance but to whom that assistance is not paid because of the person's failure to cooperate. Medical assistance to the person's family may not be denied for the person's failure to cooperate. Medical assistance may not be denied to a person receiving assistance under this chapter who is under the age of 19, a pregnant adult, or any other person who may not be denied medical assistance under federal law.

(d) This section does not prohibit the Texas Workforce Commission, the Health and Human Services Commission, or any health and human services agency, as defined by Section 531.001, Government Code, from providing child care or any other related social or support services for an individual who is eligible for financial assistance but to whom that assistance is not paid because of the individual's failure to cooperate.

(e) The department by rule shall establish procedures to determine whether a person has cooperated with the requirements of the responsibility agreement.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 2.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, Sec. 74, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.88(a), eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0033. GOOD CAUSE HEARING FOR FAILURE TO COOPERATE. (a) If the department or Title IV-D agency determines that a person has failed to cooperate with the requirements of the responsibility agreement under Section 31.0031, the person determined to have failed to cooperate or, if different, the person receiving the financial assistance may request a hearing to show good cause for failure to cooperate not later than the 13th day after the date the notice is sent under Section 31.0032. If the person determined to have failed to cooperate or, if different, the person receiving the financial assistance requests a hearing to show good cause not later than the 13th day after the date on which the notice is sent under Section 31.0032, the department may not withhold or reduce the payment of financial assistance until the department determines whether the person had good cause for the person's failure to cooperate. On a showing of good cause for failure to cooperate, the person may receive a financial assistance payment for the period in which the person failed to cooperate, but had good cause for that failure to cooperate.

(b) The department shall promptly conduct a hearing if a timely request is made under Subsection (a).

(c) If the department finds that good cause for the person's failure to cooperate was not shown at a hearing, the department may not make a financial assistance payment in any amount to the person for the person or the person's family for the period prescribed by Section 31.0032(a-1).

(d) The department by rule shall establish criteria for good cause failure to cooperate and guidelines for what constitutes a good faith effort on behalf of a recipient under this section.

(e) Except as provided by a waiver or modification granted under Section 31.0322, a person has good cause for failing or refusing to cooperate with the requirement of the responsibility agreement under Section 31.0031(d)(1) only if:

(1) the person's cooperation would be harmful to the physical, mental, or emotional health of the person or the person's dependent child; or

(2) the person's noncooperation resulted from other circumstances the person could not control.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 2.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 556, Sec. 75, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.88(a), eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.00331. ADDITIONAL PENALTY FOR CONTINUOUS FAILURE TO COOPERATE. A person who fails to cooperate with the responsibility agreement for two consecutive months becomes ineligible for financial assistance for the person or the person's family. The person may reapply for financial assistance but must cooperate with the requirements of the responsibility agreement for a one-month period before receiving an assistance payment for that month.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.88(b), eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0035. TRANSITIONAL CHILD-CARE SERVICES. (a) The department shall provide necessary transitional child-care services, in accordance with department rules and federal law, to a person who was receiving financial assistance under this chapter but is no longer eligible to receive the assistance because:

(1) the person's household income has increased; or

(2) the person has exhausted the person's benefits under Section 31.0065.

(b) Except as provided by Section 31.012(c), the department may provide the child-care services only until the earlier of:

(1) the end of the applicable period prescribed by Section 31.0065 for the provision of transitional benefits; or

(2) the first anniversary of the date on which the person becomes ineligible for financial assistance because of increased household income.

(c) The department by rule shall adopt a system of co-payments in order to have a person who receives child-care services under this section contribute an amount toward the cost of the services according to the person's ability to pay.

(d) The department by rule shall provide for sanctions for a person who is financially able to contribute the amount required by Subsection (c) but fails to pay.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 3.02, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0036. DEPENDENT CHILD'S INCOME. The department may not consider any income earned by a dependent child who is attending school and whose income is derived from the child's part-time employment for purposes of determining:

(1) the amount of financial assistance granted to an individual under this chapter for the support of dependent children; or

(2) whether the family meets household income and resource requirements for eligibility for financial assistance under this chapter.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Renumbered from Human Resources Code Sec. 31.0031 by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 31.01(61), eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 31.0037. EARNED INCOME FROM WORK PROGRAM. The department may not consider any income earned by a recipient of financial assistance under the Texans Work program established under Chapter 308, Labor Code, for purposes of determining:

(1) the amount of financial assistance granted to an individual under this chapter for the support of dependent children; or

(2) whether the family meets household income and resource requirements for financial assistance under this chapter.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 456, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 31.0038. TEMPORARY EXCLUSION OF NEW SPOUSE'S INCOME. (a) Subject to the limitations prescribed by Subsection (b), income earned by an individual who marries an individual receiving financial assistance at the time of the marriage may not be considered by the department during the six-month period following the date of the marriage for purposes of determining:

(1) the amount of financial assistance granted to an individual under this chapter for the support of dependent children; or

(2) whether the family meets household income and resource requirements for financial assistance under this chapter.

(b) To be eligible for the income disregard provided by Subsection (a), the combined income of the individual receiving financial assistance and the new spouse cannot exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level for their family size.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.89, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0039. EXCLUSION OF ASSETS IN PREPAID TUITION PROGRAMS AND HIGHER EDUCATION SAVINGS PLANS. For purposes of determining the amount of financial assistance granted to an individual under this chapter for the support of dependent children or determining whether the family meets household income and resource requirements for financial assistance under this chapter, the department may not consider the right to assets held in or the right to receive payments or benefits under:

(1) any fund or plan established under Subchapter G, H, or I, Chapter 54, Education Code, including an interest in a savings trust account, prepaid tuition contract, or related matching account; or

(2) any qualified tuition program of any state that meets the requirements of Section 529, Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1186 (H.B. 3708), Sec. 8, eff. June 17, 2011.

Sec. 31.004. FOSTER CARE. The Department of Protective and Regulatory Services may accept and spend funds available from any source to provide foster care in facilities approved by the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services for dependent children who meet the specifications set out in Section 31.002(b).

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2344, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 8.015, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0041. SUPPLEMENTAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR CERTAIN PERSONS. (a) To the extent funds are appropriated for this purpose, the department may provide supplemental financial assistance in addition to the amount of financial assistance granted for the support of a dependent child under Section 31.003 to a person who:

(1) is 45 years of age or older;

(2) is the grandparent of the dependent child, as defined by Section 31.002, who lives at the person's residence;

(3) is the primary caretaker of the dependent child;

(4) has a family income that is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level; and

(5) does not have resources that exceed the amount allowed for financial assistance under this chapter.

(b) Supplemental financial assistance provided to a person under this section may include one or more cash payments, not to exceed a total of $1,000, after determination of eligibility for supplemental financial assistance under this section.

(c) The department shall inform an applicant for financial assistance under this chapter who meets the eligibility requirements under Subsection (a) of the availability of supplemental financial assistance.

(d) The department shall maintain complete records and compile statistics regarding the number of households that receive supplemental financial assistance under this section.

(e) After a person receives supplemental financial assistance under Subsection (b) on behalf of a dependent child, no other person is eligible under Subsection (a) to receive supplemental financial assistance on behalf of that child.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 471, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 346, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 31.005. DEPENDENT CHILD RESIDING WITH RELATIVES. (a) If after an investigation the department determines that a family with a dependent child is needy and that the child resides with the family, the department shall provide financial assistance and services for the support of the family.

(b) The department shall formulate policies for studying and improving the child's home conditions and shall plan services for the protection of the child and for the child's health and educational needs.

(c) A dependent child who is between 18 and 21 years of age and whose family is receiving financial assistance or services on his or her behalf must enroll in school during the regular school term unless the department finds that good cause exists for the nonattendance of the child at school. Failure to comply with this requirement constitutes good cause for the termination of the financial assistance or services.

(d) The department shall develop a plan for the coordination of the services provided for dependent children under this chapter and other child welfare services for which the department is responsible.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2344, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.0051. MINOR PARENT RESIDING WITH RELATIVES. If the department determines based on documentation provided that a minor caretaker who is receiving financial assistance and services under this chapter on behalf of a dependent child benefits from residing with an adult family member who is also receiving assistance under this chapter, the department shall provide assistance and services to both persons as if they were living separately.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 841, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.

Sec. 31.006. WELFARE AND RELATED SERVICES. (a) The department shall develop and implement a program of welfare and related services for each dependent child which, in light of the particular home conditions and other needs of the child, will best promote the welfare of the child and his or her family and will help to maintain and strengthen family life by assisting the child's parents or relatives to attain and retain their capabilities for maximum self-support and personal independence consistent with the maintenance of continued parental care and protection.

(b) The department shall coordinate the services provided under the program with other services provided by the department and by other public and private welfare agencies for the care and protection of children.

(c) The department may promulgate rules which will enable it to fully participate in work and training programs authorized by federal law, to provide for all services required or deemed advisable under the provisions of the program, and to accept, transfer, and expend funds made available from public or private sources for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this section.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2344, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.0065. TIME-LIMITED BENEFITS. (a) The department may provide financial assistance under this chapter only in accordance with the time limits specified by this section. The department by rule may provide for exceptions to these time limits if severe personal hardship or community economic factors prevent the recipient from obtaining employment or if the state is unable to provide support services.

(b) The department shall limit financial assistance and transitional benefits in accordance with the following schedule:

(1) financial assistance is limited to a cumulative total of 12 months and transitional benefits are limited to 12 months if the person receiving financial assistance on behalf of a dependent child has:

(A) a high school diploma, a high school equivalency certificate, or a certificate or degree from a two-year or four-year institution of higher education or technical or vocational school; or

(B) recent work experience of 18 months or more;

(2) financial assistance is limited to a cumulative total of 24 months and transitional benefits are limited to 12 months if the person receiving financial assistance on behalf of a dependent child has:

(A) completed three years of high school; or

(B) recent work experience of not less than six or more than 18 months; and

(3) financial assistance is limited to a cumulative total of 36 months and transitional benefits of 12 months if the person receiving financial assistance on behalf of a dependent child has:

(A) completed less than three years of high school; and

(B) less than six months of work experience.

(c) If the recipient has completed less than three years of high school and has less than six months work experience, the department shall perform an in-depth assessment of the needs of that person and that person's family. If the recipient cooperates with the department's assessment, the time period prescribed by Subsection (b)(3) begins on the first anniversary of the date on which the department completes the assessment, as determined by the department.

(d) The computation of time limits under Subsection (b) begins when the adult or teen parent recipient receives notification under Section 31.012(b) of the availability of an opening in and eligibility for the job opportunity and basic skills (JOBS) program Part F, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 682).

(e) In implementing the time-limited benefits program, the department:

(1) shall provide that a participant in the program may reapply with the department for financial assistance on or after the fifth anniversary of the date on which the participant is totally disqualified from receiving assistance because of the application of Subsection (b); and

(2) shall establish the criteria for determining what constitutes severe personal hardship under Subsection (a).

(f) If the department is imposing time-limited benefits on an individual, the department shall consider:

(1) the assessment of the individual's need that was conducted by the department, provided that if the needs assessment indicates discrepancies between a client's self-reported educational level and the client's functional abilities, the time limits shall be based upon the functional educational level; and

(2) the prevailing economic and employment conditions in the area of the state where the individual resides.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 3.01(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0066. HARDSHIP EXEMPTIONS FROM FEDERAL TIME LIMITS. (a) The department, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Health and Human Services Commission shall jointly adopt rules prescribing circumstances that constitute a hardship for purposes of exempting a recipient of financial assistance from the application of time limits imposed by federal law on the receipt of benefits.

(b) The rules must include a broad range of circumstances that reasonably prevent recipients of financial assistance from becoming self-supporting before expiration of the period specified by federal law.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1217, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 31.007. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO INDIVIDUALS IN INSTITUTIONS. A person who is in an institution is eligible to receive financial assistance under this chapter if the person would be eligible to receive the financial assistance if he were not in an institution and if the payments are made in accordance with the department's rules promulgated in conformity with federal law and rules.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2344, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.008. COUNSELING AND GUIDANCE SERVICES. (a) If the department believes that financial assistance to a family with a dependent child is not being, or may not be, used in the best interest of the child, the department may provide counseling and guidance services to the relative receiving financial assistance with respect to the use of the funds and the management of other funds in the child's best interest.

(b) The department may advise the relative that continued failure to use the funds in the child's best interest will result in the funds being paid to a substitute payee. If the department determines that protective payments are required to safeguard the best interest of the child, the department may pay the funds to a substitute payee on a temporary basis in accordance with the department's rules.

(c) If the situation in the home which made the protective payments necessary does not improve, and if the department determines that the relative with whom the child is living is unable or does not have the capacity to use the funds for the best interest of the child, then the department may make arrangements with the family for other plans for the care of the child. The other plans may include:

(1) removing the child to the home of another relative;

(2) appointment of a guardian or legal representative for the relative with whom the child is living;

(3) imposition of criminal or civil penalties if a court determines that the relative is not using, or has not used, the payments for the benefit of the child; or

(4) referral of the case to a court for the removal of the child and the placement of the child in a foster home.

(d) The department may make payments on behalf of a dependent child residing in a foster family home or a child-care institution in accordance with the provisions of this chapter and the rules of the department.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2345, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.009. REQUIRED REGISTRATION WITH TEXAS EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION. (a) A person who is required to register with the Texas Employment Commission under the Employment Incentive Act is not eligible to receive financial assistance under this chapter until the person is registered.

(b) Before making a payment, the department shall determine whether the person to whom the payment is to be made is required to register with the Texas Employment Commission under the Employment Incentive Act, and if the person is required to register, whether the person is registered. If the department finds that a person who is required to register is not registered, the department may not make the payment.

(c) On receipt of notice from the Texas Employment Commission that a person has failed to comply with the Employment Incentive Act, the department shall immediately terminate the person's financial assistance.

(d) The department shall maintain a current record of all persons found to be ineligible to receive financial assistance for failure to comply with the Employment Incentive Act. The department shall distribute the record to each division within the department in which the record is or may be relevant in determining eligibility for any welfare benefits.

(e) The department shall arrange placement of the dependent children of an ineligible person with another person or with an institution if the department determines that alternative care is in the best interest of the children.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2345, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.0095. NEEDS ASSESSMENT. The Health and Human Services Commission shall assist a recipient or a nonrecipient parent in assessing the particular needs of that person and the person's family upon notification of entry into a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families employment program established under Part A, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 601 et seq.). The Texas Workforce Commission and the recipient or the nonrecipient parent shall develop an employability plan to help the recipient or nonrecipient parent achieve independence from public assistance granted to the recipient and the recipient's family, or to the child of the nonrecipient parent, as applicable.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.03, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 2, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 31.010. SUPPORT SERVICES. (a) Subject to the availability of funds, the Texas Workforce Commission shall provide a recipient or a nonrecipient parent with support services designed to assist the recipient or nonrecipient parent and the person's family to attain and retain the capability of independence and self-care.

(b) The department shall consider the needs assessment and employability plan developed under Section 31.0095 in determining the support services needed.

(c) Support services include:

(1) education, using public or private schools as necessary;

(2) child care;

(3) transportation assistance;

(4) work skills and job readiness training;

(5) instruction in job search techniques;

(6) job placement; and

(7) job retention assistance.

(d) The department by rule shall provide for implementation of the support services.

(e) The department may contract with other state agencies, community colleges, technical schools, residence training facilities, or public or private entities to provide support services under this section.

(f) In providing work skills and job readiness training, the Texas Workforce Commission shall:

(1) emphasize training for sustainable wage jobs;

(2) promote understanding of nontraditional work opportunities for recipients and nonrecipient parents; and

(3) offer micro-enterprise development and self-employment assistance in rural areas and other areas in which jobs are scarce.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.04, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 828, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 31.012. MANDATORY WORK OR PARTICIPATION IN EMPLOYMENT ACTIVITIES THROUGH THE JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND BASIC SKILLS PROGRAM. (a) The department shall require that, during any one-month period in which an adult is receiving financial assistance under this chapter, the adult shall during that period:

(1) work not less than 30 hours a week; or

(2) participate for not less than 20 hours a week in an activity established under the job opportunities and basic skills (JOBS) training program under Part F, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 682).

(b) The department by rule shall establish criteria for good cause failure to cooperate and for notification procedures regarding participation in work or employment activities under this section.

(c) A person who is the caretaker of a physically or mentally disabled child who requires the caretaker's presence is not required to participate in a program under this section. A single person who is the caretaker of a child is exempt until the caretaker's youngest child at the time the caretaker first became eligible for assistance reaches the age of one. Notwithstanding Sections 31.0035(b) and 32.0255(b), the department shall provide to a person who is exempt under this subsection and who voluntarily participates in a program under Subsection (a)(2) six months of transitional benefits in addition to the applicable limit prescribed by Section 31.0065.

(d) A state program operated under this section shall be administered by the division of workforce development of the Texas Workforce Commission when the program is transferred to that commission.

(e) The department shall allow a person who is participating in work or employment activities under this section to complete those activities if the person becomes ineligible to receive financial assistance under this chapter because the person receives child support in an amount that makes the person ineligible for that assistance. The department shall provide to the person necessary child care services until the date on which the person completes work or employment activities under this section.

(f) In this section, "caretaker of a child" means the parent or relative of a dependent child with whom the child primarily resides, including a parent or relative who has been appointed under a court order as sole managing conservator or joint managing conservator of the child.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 1st C.S., ch. 15, Sec. 5.23, eff. Sept. 1, 1991. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 4.01(a), 11.63, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 602, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 681, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1224, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.90, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0121. SKILLS ASSESSMENT AND DEVELOPMENT FOR CERTAIN RECIPIENTS AND CERTAIN NONRECIPIENT PARENTS. (a) The Texas Workforce Commission shall ensure that each local workforce development board assesses the skills development needs of recipients and of nonrecipient parents referred to the CHOICES program administered by the board.

(b) If, after assessing the skills development needs of a recipient or a nonrecipient parent, a local workforce development board determines that the recipient or the nonrecipient parent requires job-specific training for placement in a job paying wages that equal or exceed the self-sufficiency wage developed for the board under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. Section 2801 et seq.), as amended, the board shall:

(1) to the extent allowed by federal law, place the recipient or the nonrecipient parent in training activities designed to improve employment and wage outcomes and job retention rates; and

(2) ensure that the training activities under Subdivision (1) target occupations that are in demand by local employers.

(c) A local workforce development board may use a single list of targeted occupations that is developed for other training programs for purposes of meeting the requirements of Subsection (b)(2).

(d) A recipient or a nonrecipient parent participating in the CHOICES program who is placed in training activities under Subsection (b) may concurrently engage in those training activities and in work activities.

(e) To meet the requirements of this section, the Texas Workforce Commission shall use CHOICES program funds and, to the extent possible, existing funds from other training programs for which a recipient or a nonrecipient parent participating in the CHOICES program may qualify, including funds from:

(1) other training programs provided under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. Section 2801 et seq.), as amended, or their successor programs;

(2) the skills development fund created under Chapter 303, Labor Code; or

(3) the self-sufficiency fund created under Section 309.002, Labor Code.

Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 817, Sec. 4.04, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 4, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 5, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 31.0124. REFERRAL TO EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS. The department shall determine whether a person who registers to participate in the job opportunities and basic skills training program needs and is eligible for adult education services provided under Section 11.2093, Education Code. If the person is eligible for the adult education services, the department shall determine the person's needs and goals and refer the person to the appropriate adult education service provided under Section 11.2093, Education Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 7.02, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0125. VOLUNTEER WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAM. (a) Subject to the availability of appropriations for client support services, the department by rule shall develop and implement a volunteer work experience program in accordance with federal law as a part of the job opportunities and basic skills (JOBS) training program under Part F, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 682).

(b) In adopting rules under this section, the department shall:

(1) establish the criteria for determining which recipients of financial assistance under this chapter who are eligible to participate in the JOBS training program will be required to participate in the volunteer work experience program;

(2) ensure that participation in the volunteer work experience program will not result in the displacement of an employee from an existing position or the elimination of a vacant position;

(3) ensure that the volunteer work experience program will not impair an existing service contract or collective bargaining agreement;

(4) ensure that an entity or agency that enters into an agreement with the department under this section provides to a participant, without paying the participant a salary, job training and work experience in certain areas within the entity or agency;

(5) require that each entity or agency that enters into a cooperative agreement with the department under this section identify positions within the entity or agency that will enable a participant to gain the skills and experience necessary to be able to compete in the labor market for comparable positions; and

(6) amend the service delivery system of the JOBS training program to require a participant in the JOBS training program who is unemployed after completing the JOBS readiness activities outlined in the participant's employability plan, including job search, to participate in the volunteer work experience program.

(c) To implement the volunteer work experience program, the department shall enter into written nonfinancial cooperative agreements with entities that receive funds under a federal Head Start program, state agencies, including institutions of higher education, other entities of state or local government, or private sector or nonprofit organizations or foundations.

(d) The department and an entity or agency that enters into an agreement under this section must establish participation requirements for the entity or agency under the volunteer work experience program. The requirements must be contained in the agreement.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 4.02(a), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0126. EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMS. (a) The Texas Workforce Commission by rule shall develop the following programs to assist recipients of financial assistance and services under this chapter and nonrecipient parents in finding and retaining employment:

(1) a work first program that provides a participant job readiness training and employment information and services that will motivate the participant to find and apply for a job through job clubs, job readiness activities, and job search activities;

(2) a business internship program that provides a participant the opportunity to obtain marketable job skills through an internship in a participating business;

(3) a Texas works program that:

(A) is operated by a nonprofit group or local governmental entity;

(B) provides to a participant motivational and job readiness training by placing the participant in a job for a period of several months;

(C) ensures that the participant is visited at work and receives counseling and help in resolving any work-related or personal problems; and

(D) receives funding on the basis of participants who are successfully hired for employment;

(4) a community work experience program that provides a participant job training and work experience through a temporary job in the public sector;

(5) a subsidized employment program that provides to a participant job training and work experience through a job in the private sector that pays the participant a subsidized salary; and

(6) a self-employment assistance program that provides to a participant entrepreneurial training, business counseling, and technical and financial assistance so that the participant can establish a business and become self-employed.

(b) The department shall develop the programs prescribed by this section in accordance with federal law as a part of the job opportunities and basic skills (JOBS) training program under Part F, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 682).

(c) In adopting rules governing a program prescribed by this section, the executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission shall:

(1) establish the criteria for determining which recipients and nonrecipient parents who are eligible to participate in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families employment programs established under Part A, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 601 et seq.), may be required to participate in a particular program; and

(2) ensure that a recipient or a nonrecipient parent who is incapable of participating in a particular program is not required to participate in that program.

(d) A local workforce development board may implement in a workforce development area one or more programs prescribed by this section.

(e) The department shall submit a waiver application or a renewal waiver application that a federal agency may require before a local workforce development board can implement one or more of the programs prescribed by this section in a workforce development area.

(f) In this section, a "local workforce development board" means a local workforce development board created under Chapter 2308, Government Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 4.03, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 818, Sec. 6.08, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 6, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 31.01261. PROVISION OF EMPLOYMENT SERVICES TO CERTAIN NONRECIPIENT PARENTS. The Texas Workforce Commission shall provide employment services, including needs assessment, job training, postemployment, and related support services, to nonrecipient parents to the same extent the services are provided to recipients under this chapter.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1300 (S.B. 589), Sec. 7, eff. June 15, 2007.

Sec. 31.0127. COORDINATION OF SERVICES TO CERTAIN CLIENTS. (a) The Health and Human Services Commission is the state agency designated to coordinate between the department and another state agency providing child care services, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families work programs, and Food Stamp Employment and Training services to an individual or family who has been referred for programs and services by the department. The purpose of this section is to accomplish the following:

(1) increase the self-sufficiency of recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and improve the delivery of services to those recipients; and

(2) improve the effectiveness of job-training programs funded under the Job Training Partnership Act (29 U.S.C. Section 1501 et seq.) or a successor program in obtaining employment for individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance.

(b) The Health and Human Services Commission shall require a state agency providing program services described by Subsection (a) to comply with Chapter 531, Government Code, solely for:

(1) the promulgation of rules relating to the programs described by Subsection (a);

(2) the expenditure of funds relating to the programs described by Subsection (a), within the limitations established by and subject to the General Appropriations Act and federal and other law applicable to the use of the funds;

(3) data collection and reporting relating to the programs described by Subsection (a); and

(4) evaluation of services relating to the programs described by Subsection (a).

(c) The department and a state agency providing program services described by Subsection (a) shall jointly develop and adopt a memorandum of understanding, subject to the approval of the Health and Human Services Commission. The memorandum of understanding must:

(1) outline measures to be taken to increase the number of individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance who are using job-training programs funded under the Job Training Partnership Act (29 U.S.C. Section 1501 et seq.), or a successor program; and

(2) identify specific measures to improve the delivery of services to clients served by programs described by Subsection (a).

(d) Not later than January 15 of each odd-numbered year, the Health and Human Services Commission shall provide a report to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house of representatives that:

(1) evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of client services in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program;

(2) evaluates the status of the coordination among agencies and compliance with this section;

(3) recommends measures to increase self-sufficiency of recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance and to improve the delivery of services to these recipients; and

(4) evaluates the effectiveness of job-training programs funded under the Job Training Partnership Act (29 U.S.C. Section 1501 et seq.) or a successor program in obtaining employment outcomes for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance.

(e) Subsection (b) does not authorize the Health and Human Services Commission to require a state agency, other than a health and human services agency, to comply with Chapter 531, Government Code, except as specifically provided by Subsection (b). The authority granted under Subsection (b) does not affect Section 301.041, Labor Code.

(f) If the change in law made by this section with regard to any program or service conflicts with federal law or would have the effect of invalidating a waiver granted under federal law, the state agency is not required to comply with this section with regard to that program or service.

(g) This section does not authorize the Health and Human Services Commission to change the allocation or disbursement of funds allocated to the state under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. Section 2801 et seq.) in a manner that would result in the loss of exemption status.

(h) This section does not authorize the Health and Human Services Commission to transfer programs to or from the department and another agency serving clients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program or the federal food stamp program administered under Chapter 33 without explicit legislative authorization.

(i) The Health and Human Services Commission and any state agency providing program services described by Subsection (a) may not promulgate rules in accordance with Subsection (b)(1) without holding a public hearing.

Added by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1460, Sec. 10.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

Sec. 31.0128. COORDINATED INTERAGENCY PLAN. (a) The department and the Texas Workforce Commission shall jointly develop and adopt a memorandum of understanding, subject to the approval of the Health and Human Services Commission. The memorandum of understanding must establish guidelines for a coordinated interagency case management plan to:

(1) identify each recipient of financial assistance who has, in comparison to other recipients, higher levels of barriers to employment; and

(2) provide coordinated services that address those barriers to assist the recipient in finding and retaining employment.

(b) The department and the Texas Workforce Commission shall:

(1) jointly develop and adopt a memorandum of understanding, subject to the approval of the Health and Human Services Commission, that establishes a coordinated interagency case management plan consistent with the guidelines established under Subsection (a); and

(2) using existing resources, by rule implement the plan to the maximum extent possible through local department and commission offices in local workforce development areas in which a local workforce development board is not established.

(c) Each agency by rule shall adopt the memoranda of understanding required by this section and all revisions to the memoranda.

(d) In a local workforce development area in which a local workforce development board is established, the Texas Workforce Commission shall require in the commission's contract with the board that the board, in cooperation with local department offices, develop and implement a coordinated interagency case management plan consistent with the guidelines established under Subsection (a).

(e) On the department's formulation of recommendations and strategies under Section 31.0129(b), the department and the Texas Workforce Commission shall, as necessary, revise and update a memorandum of understanding and coordinated interagency case management plan under this section to include the recommendations and strategies.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 84, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1169, Sec. 12, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0129. COORDINATED PLAN TO IMPROVE INTERAGENCY TRANSITIONS. (a) The department, the Texas Workforce Commission, and representatives of local workforce development boards shall conduct a survey of best practices used to transition clients between local department offices and workforce centers.

(b) The department shall:

(1) analyze information collected by a survey under Subsection (a); and

(2) formulate recommendations and strategies to improve practices used to transition clients between local department offices and workforce centers.

(c) Using existing resources, the department and local workforce development boards shall adopt policies to implement the recommendations and strategies contained in the revised and updated memorandum of understanding under Section 31.0128.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1169, Sec. 13, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.0135. PARENTING SKILLS TRAINING. (a) The department, in cooperation with the Texas Education Agency, the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, or any other public or private entity, shall develop a parenting skills training program to assist a recipient of assistance under this chapter, including a child who receives assistance on behalf of a dependent child. The program shall include nutrition education, budgeting and survival skills, and instruction on the necessity of physical and emotional safety for children.

(b) The department shall require that a caretaker relative or parent who is receiving assistance under this chapter on behalf of a dependent child receive appropriate parenting skills training as needed. The training must include one or more components of the parenting skills training program that the department determines will be useful to the caretaker relative or parent.

(c) In this section, "caretaker relative" means a person who is listed as a relative eligible to receive assistance under 42 U.S.C. Section 602(a).

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 841, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.05, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 6.54, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 682, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 31.014. TWO-PARENT FAMILIES. (a) The department shall provide financial assistance, in accordance with department rules, to a two-parent family if the primary wage earner parent is registered in the job opportunities and basic skills (JOBS) training program under Part F, Subchapter IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 682), or is registered with the Texas Employment Commission.

(b) A family is eligible for assistance under this section without regard to:

(1) the number of hours worked per month by the primary wage earner parent; or

(2) the work history of the primary wage earner parent.

(c) An adult caretaker of a child younger than three years of age is exempt from the requirement of Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 841, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.

Sec. 31.015. HEALTHY MARRIAGE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. (a) Subject to available federal funding, the department shall develop and implement a healthy marriage development program for recipients of financial assistance under this chapter.

(b) The healthy marriage development program shall promote and provide three instructional courses on the following topics:

(1) premarital counseling for engaged couples and marriage counseling for married couples that includes skill development for:

(A) anger resolution;

(B) family violence prevention;

(C) communication;

(D) honoring your spouse; and

(E) managing a budget;

(2) physical fitness and active lifestyles and nutrition and cooking, including:

(A) abstinence for all unmarried persons, including abstinence for persons who have previously been married; and

(B) nutrition on a budget; and

(3) parenting skills, including parenting skills for character development, academic success, and stepchildren.

(c) The department shall provide to a recipient of financial assistance under this chapter additional financial assistance of not more than $20 for the recipient's participation in a course offered through the healthy marriage development program up to a maximum payment of $60 a month.

(d) The department may provide the courses or may contract with any person, including a community or faith-based organization, for the provision of the courses. The department must provide all participants with an option of attending courses in a non-faith-based organization.

(e) The department shall develop rules as necessary for the administration of the healthy marriage development program.

(f) The department must ensure that the courses provided by the department and courses provided through contracts with other organizations will be sensitive to the needs of individuals from different religions, races, and genders.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.91, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Sec. 31.016. SERVICE REFERRALS FOR CERTAIN RECIPIENTS. To the extent practicable using existing revenue, the department, by rule, shall develop and implement a plan to:

(1) identify recipients of financial assistance that are at risk of exhausting their benefits under Section 31.0065; and

(2) provide referrals for the recipient and the recipient's family to appropriate preventive and support services, including faith-based services.

Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1169, Sec. 14, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Renumbered from Human Resources Code, Section 31.015 by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 728 (H.B. 2018), Sec. 23.001(56), eff. September 1, 2005.

Sec. 31.017. HEALTHY MARRIAGES AND STRONG FAMILIES GRANT PROGRAM. (a) The Health and Human Services Commission may administer a grant program to provide grants in amounts not to exceed $50,000 to programs that provide marriage education services and support the development of healthy marriages or strengthening of families. Grant recipients may use grant money to provide direct services to participants, develop a program, enlarge program capacity, or pay other program expenses, including provider training and technical assistance expenses.

(b) In selecting grant recipients, the Health and Human Services Commission shall give preference to applicants:

(1) whose programs will contribute to the geographic diversity of program locations; or

(2) who operate small programs, but who seek to maximize service delivery and build capacity.

(c) The Health and Human Services Commission shall require that each grant recipient provide program services at no cost to participants.

(d) The Health and Human Services Commission may contract with private entities to provide marriage education training and curriculum, technical assistance, and other support to grant recipients. In selecting entities to provide these services, the commission shall consider whether a prospective provider has knowledge and understanding of the needs of grant recipients operating programs in different areas of this state.

(e) The executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission may adopt rules to implement this section.

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1249 (H.B. 2683), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Sec. 31.018. MARRIAGE AND FAMILY PROGRAM FUNDING. (a) To the extent authorized by federal law, the Health and Human Services Commission shall spend a minimum of one percent of money received under the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant during each state fiscal year to fund programs that support the development of healthy marriages or the strengthening of families, including the healthy marriage development program under Section 31.015 and the healthy marriages and strong families grant program under Section 31.017.

(b) Using not more than 10 percent of the money required to be spent as provided by Subsection (a), the Health and Human Services Commission, through a contract or agreement with a public senior college or university, as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, shall establish a process for evaluating the best practices and outcomes of programs funded under Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1249 (H.B. 2683), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

SUBCHAPTER B. ADMINISTRATION OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND SERVICES


Sec. 31.031. APPLICATION FOR ASSISTANCE. (a) The department by rule shall prescribe the form for applications for assistance authorized by this chapter and the manner of their submission.

(b) The department may require the applicant to state the amount of property in which he or she has an interest, the amount of income which he or she has at the time the application is filed, and other information.

(c) The department shall require the applicant to provide proof to the department that each person who will receive assistance under this chapter is:

(1) a United States citizen or has a satisfactory immigration status as defined in Title IV, Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Section 602(a)(33)), in effect as of the effective date of this Act; and

(2) a resident of this state.

(d) The department shall require the applicant to provide proof to the department that each child five years of age or younger, or a child who is not enrolled in public school, for whom the applicant will receive assistance:

(1) has been immunized in accordance with Section 161.004, Health and Safety Code;

(2) is currently receiving an immunization series in accordance with Section 161.004, Health and Safety Code, if the child is of sufficient age; or

(3) is exempted under Section 161.004(d), Health and Safety Code.

(e) An applicant who cannot provide the proof required by Subsection (d) at the time of application shall provide the proof not later than the 180th day after the date the department determines the applicant is eligible for financial assistance.

(f) The department shall provide the applicant with information regarding immunization services available in the applicant's residential area. If the applicant does not read or comprehend English, the department shall provide the information in a language that the applicant reads or comprehends.

(g) The department by rule shall provide sanctions for a financial assistance recipient's failure to comply with Subsection (d) or (e).

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 2.01(a), 2.04, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.0315. DETERMINATION OF PARENTAGE. (a) A parent applying for assistance on behalf of a child shall identify the parent's spouse or, if unmarried, shall provide the name and last known address of the mother or alleged father of the child, as applicable.

(b) If the applying parent is under 18 years of age and resides with relatives, the applicant's relatives shall cooperate in identifying the other parent.

(c) A person who is not a parent and who is applying for assistance on behalf of a child shall provide the name and last known address of the mother and alleged father of the child.

(d) The department may waive the requirements of this section if it determines that there exists a reasonable explanation why it is impossible to provide the information required under Subsection (a), (b), or (c) or if it would not be in the best interests of the child to provide the information. In determining whether the best interests of the child warrant waiving the information requirements of this section, the department shall consider all relevant provisions of federal law and regulations.

(e) The department shall forward to the attorney general's office information received under this section.

(f) If the parent of a dependent child is under 17 years of age and the Title IV-D agency determines that the child's birth may be the result of sexual conduct that constitutes a criminal offense under the Penal Code, that agency shall refer the case to the appropriate law enforcement agency for further investigation.

Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.06, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 31.032. INVESTIGATION AND DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY. (a) On receipt of an application for assistance authorized by this chapter, the department shall investigate and record the applicant's circumstances in order to ascertain the facts supporting the application and to obtain other information it may require.

(b) After completing its investigation, the department shall determine whether the applicant is eligible for the assistance, the type and amount of assistance, the date on which the assistance shall begin, and the manner in which payments shall be made.

(c) The department shall promptly notify the applicant of its final action.

(d) In determining whether an applicant is eligible for assistance, the department shall exclude from the applicant's available resources:

(1) $1,000 for the applicant's household, including a household in which there is a person with a disability or a person who is at least 60 years of age; and

(2) the fair market value of the applicant's ownership interest in a motor vehicle, but not more than the amount determined according to the following schedule:

(A) $4,550 on or after September 1, 1995, but before October 1, 1995;

(B) $4,600 on or after October 1, 1995, but before October 1, 1996;

(C) $5,000 on or after October 1, 1996, but before October 1, 1997; and

(D) $5,000 plus or minus an amount to be determined annually beginning on October 1, 1997, to reflect changes in the new car component of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(e) If federal regulations governing the maximum allowable resources under the food stamp program, 7 CFR Part 273, are revised, the department shall adjust the standards that determine available resources under Subsection (d) to reflect those revisions.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 655, Sec. 1.07, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 198, Sec. 2.201(a), eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1251, Sec. 5(a), eff. June 20, 2003.

Sec. 31.0322. VICTIMS OF FAMILY VIOLENCE. (a) The department, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Title IV-D agency by rule shall adopt procedures under which requirements relating to financial assistance and related services, including time limits, child support enforcement, paternity establishment, work activity, and residency, may be waived or modified for an individual who is a victim of family violence if application of the requirements would:

(1) adversely affect the individual's ability to attain financial independence;

(2) make it more difficult for the individual to escape family violence; or

(3) place the individual at greater risk for additional family violence.

(b) The procedures must provide that:

(1) a requirement may be waived or modified only after a case-by-case determination and documentation of good cause and only to the extent necessary considering an individual's circumstances;

(2) a requirement may not be waived or modified for an individual for a period longer than one year;

(3) the appropriate agency shall refer an individual to a family violence program if necessary for assistance in developing a safety plan to protect the individual from further family violence; and

(4) confidentiality of information about the identification and location of victims of family violence and their children is maintained when necessary to prevent additional family violence.

(c) The department, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the Title IV-D agency may not deny an individual access to education, training, employment, or other services because the individual is a victim of family violence.

(d) The department shall coordinate the development and implementation of procedures under this section in collaboration with the Texas Workforce Commission, the Title IV-D agency, and at least one statewide advocacy group for victims of family violence.

(e) The department, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Title IV-D agency, and each local workforce development board, using existing resources, shall provide not less than four hours of training regarding family violence to each employee or other person who on behalf of the department, commission, agency, or board:

(1) provides information relating to requirements described by Subsection (a) and the availability of waivers or modifications of those requirements to an individual seeking or receiving financial assistance;

(2) recommends or grants waivers or modifications authorized by this section of requirements described by Subsection (a);

(3) recommends or imposes sanctions for noncooperation or noncompliance with requirements described by Subsection (a); or

(4) assesses employment readiness or provides employment planning or employment retention services to an individual receiving financial assistance.

(f) The training required by Subsection (e) must:

(1) be developed in collaboration with at least one organization with expertise in family violence issues; and

(2) include information relating to:

(A) the potential impact of family violence on:

(i) the safety of an individual seeking or receiving financial assistance; and

(ii) the ability of that individual to make a successful transition into the workforce;

(B) state laws and agency rules regarding options available to an individual receiving financial assistance for whom family violence poses a danger or impediment to attaining financial independence; and

(C) statewide and local resources available from state and local governmental agencies and other entities that could assist a victim of family violence in safely and successfully entering the workforce.

(g) Before the application of a sanction or penalty based on an individual's failure to cooperate with the department or Title IV-D agency, as required by Section 31.0031(d)(1), or failure to comply with the work or participation requirements imposed by Section 31.012, the agency recommending or applying the sanction or penalty must make reasonable attempts to contact the individual to determine the cause of the failure to cooperate or comply. If the agency determines that family violence contributed to the failure, the agency shall ensure that a person trained in family violence issues in accordance with Subsection (e) interviews the individual to identify the types of services necessary to assist the individual in safely and successfully entering the workforce.

(h) In this section:

(1) "Family violence" has the meaning assigned by Section 71.004, Family Code.

(2) "Title IV-D agency" has the meaning assigned by Section 101.033, Family Code.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1442, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Renumbered from Sec. 31.0321 by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 19.01(71), eff. Sept. 1, 1999. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 197, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 31.0324. ASSIGNMENT OF PROTECTIVE PAYEE. (a) In this section, "protective payee" means a person who:

(1) is interested in or concerned with the welfare of a child or relative of a child receiving financial assistance; and

(2) acts for the recipient of financial assistance in receiving or managing the financial assistance payment.

(b) The department by rule shall develop and implement a process that provides for the grandparent of a child receiving financial assistance under this chapter to serve as a protective payee to:

(1) receive and use the assistance on behalf of the child; and

(2) apply for financial assistance and be interviewed instead of the child's parent at any subsequent review of eligibility required by the department.

(c) The department shall:

(1) limit the use of the process established by Subsection (b) to situations in which the department determines the parent is not using the assistance for the child's needs as required by Section 31.0355(a); and

(2) establish by rule the circumstances under which the grandparent may be removed as a protective payee.

Added by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1316, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

Sec. 31.0326. VERIFICATION OF IDENTITY AND PREVENTION OF DUPLICATE PARTICIPATION. The Health and Human Services Commission shall use appropriate technology to:

(1) confirm the identity of applicants for benefits under the financial assistance program; and

(2) prevent duplicate participation in the program by a person.

Added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 944 (H.B. 710), Sec. 1, eff. June 17, 2011.

Sec. 31.033. REINVESTIGATION AND REDETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY. (a) The department may require periodic reconsideration of continued eligibility for assistance.

(b) After reconsideration of continuing eligibility, the department may change the amount of assistance or withdraw it if the department finds that the recipient's circumstances have altered sufficiently to warrant that action.

(c) The department may cancel or suspend assistance for a period of time if the department finds that the recipient is currently ineligible to receive it.

(d) The department shall notify the recipient immediately of its decision to change or withdraw assistance.

(e) A recipient of assistance must notify the department immediately if he or she comes into possession of income or resources in excess of the amount previously reported.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.034. APPEAL FROM LOCAL ADMINISTRATIVE UNITS. (a) An applicant for or recipient of financial assistance authorized by this chapter may appeal to the department an action or failure to act by a local administrative unit relating to the financial assistance. The department shall grant the applicant or recipient an opportunity for a hearing after reasonable notice.

(b) An applicant or recipient, or his or her authorized agent, may submit a written request for the information contained in the unit's records on which the action being appealed is based, and the unit shall advise the person making the request of the information within a reasonable time prior to the hearing. Information not provided to the requesting party may not be considered by the department at the hearing as a basis for decision.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.035. METHOD OF PAYMENT. (a) The department shall periodically furnish the comptroller with a list of persons eligible for financial assistance under this chapter and the amount to which each person is entitled.

(b) The comptroller shall draw warrants for the specified amounts on the proper accounts of the Texas Department of Human Services fund and shall transmit the warrants to the commissioner. The commissioner shall supervise the delivery of the warrants to the persons entitled to them.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 264, Sec. 11, eff. Aug. 26, 1985.

Sec. 31.0355. USE OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. (a) Financial assistance granted to a person under this chapter may be used only to purchase goods and services that are considered essential and necessary for the welfare of the family, including food, clothing, housing, utilities, child care, and incidentals such as transportation and medicine or medical supplies or equipment not covered by Medicaid. The department by rule shall define what constitutes essential and necessary goods and services for purposes of this subsection.

(b) If a recipient of financial assistance who receives the assistance by electronic benefits transfer to an account is authorized to make a cash withdrawal from the account through a provider of the goods or services described by Subsection (a), the recipient may make the cash withdrawal only at the customer service department of the provider and not at the provider's point-of-sale terminal.

(c) The department shall encourage housing authorities, utility companies, public transportation companies, and other nonfood retailers to accept payment for goods and services described by Subsection (a) through the state's electronic benefits transfer (EBT) system.

(d) To determine the feasibility of using the EBT system to accept payment for goods and services described by Subsection (a), the department shall conduct a pilot project in which utility companies, housing agencies, and other retailers use the EBT system to accept payment for medicine, medical supplies, and medical equipment not covered by Medicaid and other goods and services described by Subsection (a). The cost of the point-of-sale (POS) devices in the pilot project shall not be a state expense, except for POS devices located in retail businesses that sell medicine or medical supplies or medical equipment. The department shall work in conjunction with the office of client transportation services of the Health and Human Services Commission to determine if EBT transportation applications are feasible.

(e) If the department determines that the pilot projects show that use of the EBT system is feasible and useful for the businesses and clients participating in the pilot project, the department shall promote the use of the EBT system to appropriate businesses statewide with the goal of securing the participation of all those businesses in using the EBT system to accept payment for goods and services described by Subsection (a).

(f) The department shall evaluate the pilot project and report to the 76th Legislature on the effectiveness of the pilot project not later than January 15, 1999.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 637, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 31.036. ELIGIBILITY OF PERSON LEAVING THE STATE. A recipient of assistance who moves out of the state is no longer eligible for the assistance. However, a recipient's temporary absence from the state for reasons and for periods of time approved by the department does not terminate the recipient's eligibility for assistance.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2346, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.037. PAYMENT OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FUNDS ON DEATH OF RECIPIENT. (a) If a person dies during a month for which the person is eligible for financial assistance and has not endorsed or cashed the warrant issued for financial assistance during that month, the department may pay financial assistance to the person who was responsible for caring for the recipient at the time of his or her death and who is responsible for paying the obligations incurred by the recipient.

(b) The department shall adopt rules prescribing the method of determining the person entitled to receive the deceased recipient's financial assistance, the manner of payment of the funds, and limitations on the payments.

(c) Payments to persons responsible for deceased recipients under this section may be made only in the manner and to the extent permissible under the laws and regulations governing the disbursement of funds received through the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2347, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.038. CANCELLATION OF UNCASHED WARRANTS. The department may cancel a financial assistance warrant that has not been cashed within a reasonable period of time after issuance. The cancellation must be performed in the manner required by rules of the comptroller.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2347, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1467, Sec. 1.33, eff. June 19, 1999.

Sec. 31.039. ISSUANCE OF REPLACEMENT ASSISTANCE WARRANTS. The comptroller may issue a replacement financial assistance warrant to a recipient who has failed to receive or has lost the original warrant in accordance with Section 403.054, Government Code.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2347, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 794, Sec. 12, eff. Aug. 26, 1985; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 449, Sec. 35, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.

Sec. 31.040. NONTRANSFERABILITY OF ASSISTANCE FUNDS. The right to financial assistance granted to recipients under this chapter may not be transferred or assigned at law or in equity, and the funds are not subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process or to the operation of an insolvency law.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2347, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.041. RIGHT TO ASSISTANCE NOT VESTED. (a) The provisions of this chapter providing assistance shall not be construed as vesting a right in the recipient to the assistance.

(b) Assistance granted under this chapter is subject to modification or repeal by the legislature, and a recipient has no claim for compensation or otherwise because the law authorizing the assistance is amended or repealed.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2347, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.042. PRORATION OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. If at any time state funds are not available to pay in full all financial assistance authorized in this chapter, the department may direct the proration of the financial assistance.

Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 2348, ch. 842, art. 1, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1979.

Sec. 31.043. FILL-THE-GAP BUDGETING. (a) To extend the period of supported employment for families who receive financial assistance under this chapter, the department may use a form of fill-the-gap budgeting or another method under which the department disregards earnings of family members who obtain employment while receiving the assistance.

(b) The department may limit the percentage of earnings disregarded, impose a time limit on how long the earnings are disregarded, or gradually reduce the percentage of earnings disregarded in order to remain within available funding.

(c) Funding for earnings disregards may also come from savings associated with sanctions related to noncompliance with the personal responsibility agreement and work requirements in this chapter, from savings resulting from caseload declines below projections specified in the appropriations bill, and from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant funds.

(d) In this section, "fill-the-gap budgeting" means a system of budgeting in which benefits are gradually lowered using a percentage of the difference between the standard of need and the countable income to calculate the grant benefit.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 878, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Sec. 31.044. INACTIVE ELECTRONIC BENEFITS TRANSFER ACCOUNT. (a) This section applies only to an account to which financial assistance provided under this chapter has been transferred under the electronic benefits transfer system for access and use by a recipient of that assistance.

(b) The department shall close an account that has not been used by the account holder during the preceding 12 months.

(c) The comptroller shall withdraw any unused benefits remaining in the account and disburse the benefits as authorized by federal and state law.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 322, Sec. 4, eff. May 26, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 458, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Renumbered from Sec. 31.043 by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 19.01(72), eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

SUBCHAPTER C. LIMITATION ON AMOUNT OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE


Sec. 31.051. DEFINITION. In this subchapter, "state budget" shall equal the amount appropriated by the legislature for the biennium from funds subject to the limitations set forth in the Texas Constitution, including any appropriated federal funds in the amounts estimated in the Act making such appropriations.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1667, ch. 312, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

Sec. 31.052. LIMITATION ON AMOUNT OF FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. For each fiscal biennium, the maximum amount that may be paid out of state funds for assistance grants to or on behalf of needy dependent children and their caretakers may not exceed one percent of the state budget.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1667, ch. 312, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

Sec. 31.053. DETERMINATION BY LEGISLATIVE BUDGET BOARD. (a) With regard to the general appropriations bill introduced in each house in each regular session, it shall be the duty of the legislative budget director, not later than the seventh day of the session, to inform in writing the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house of representatives of three items of information:

(1) the biennial amount of the "state budget," as defined for the purposes of this subchapter, based on the general appropriations bills as introduced;

(2) the maximum biennial amount of one percent of the state budget; and

(3) the biennial amount which would be appropriated by the general appropriations bills for assistance to or on behalf of needy dependent children and the caretakers of such children and which is subject to the limitation.

(b) At the request of the lieutenant governor or speaker the legislative budget director shall update this information and shall provide a statement of other legislation affecting appropriations.

(c) The Legislative Budget Board may adopt rules necessary to perform its duties under this subchapter.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1667, ch. 312, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.