Allows for baccalaureate and advanced degree programs to count towards the work participation rate and further provides for certain educational and training activity (homework expected or required by the educational institution) to count towards the satisfaction of the participant's work activity requirement.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to clarifying the definitions of vocational educational training and educational activities
PURPOSE OF THE BILL: The bill would amend the social Services Law (SSL) to allow attendance in up to four years of post-secondary education to count toward, an individual's public assistance employment requirement where the attendance is consistent with the individual's employment and assessment plan goals, and make corresponding changes to income and resource exemptions for monies set aside for paying' for education.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 of the bill would amend SSL § 335 (a) to match with the corresponding law in §335-a.
Sections 2 and 3 of the bill would amend SSL § 336(1) (h) and (1) (i) to include up to four years of postsecondary education in the definition of "vocational educational training."
Section 4 of the bill would amend SSL § 336-a(1) to allow for up to four years of postsecondary education to count as participation for purposes of an individual's public assistance employment requirement and provide that all assignments to vocational educational training and educational activities will be permitted only to the extent that such an assignments consistent with an individual's assessment and employment plan.
Section 5 of the bill would amend SSL §131-n(1)(c), which provides that up to $1,400 maybe kept in a separate bank account and deemed exempt and disregarded in calculating the amount of public assistance benefits where the funds are to be used for payment of tuition at a two-year accredited post-secondary institution, to add an accredited four-year institution.
Section 6 of the bill would provide for an immediate effective date, provided that the amendments to paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 of section 131-n of the social services law made by section five of this act shall not affect the expiration of such section and shall be deemed to expire therewith.
EXISTING LAW: SSL §§ 336 and 336-a currently provide that a public assistance recipient may be assigned no more than two years of post-secondary education as part of public assistance employment activities.
SSL § 131-n(1)(c) currently provides that up to $1,400 may be kept in a separate bank account and deemed exempt and disregarded in calculating the amount of public assistance benefits where the funds are to be used for payment of tuition at a two year accredited post-secondary institution.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S.5846-B; Died in Finance
STATEMENT IN SUPPORT: This bill would permit social service districts to exercise the flexibility permitted by recent changes to the federal regulations in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF). The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 required states to meet certain work participation rates for recipients o.f assistance funded by the TANF program or face severe fiscal penalties. The federal law and implementing regulations specified which kinds of work activities counted towards meeting the work participation rate. Participation in a four year college program was not a countable activity. State law, SSL §330 et seq., mirrored the federal requirements in imposing work obligations on public assistance recipients and not permitting participation in a four-year college program to count towards that requirement.
Changes in federal regulations in response to the federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (Pub.L. 109-171) now permit states to count four-year college attendance by recipients toward the work participation requirements in certain circumstances. The changes proposed by this bill would permit New York to take advantage of this federal change which would, benefit both recipients and social services districts. While a four-year college degree may not be a viable option for many public assistance recipients, for whom there exists an array of services and programs, a four-year diploma is a realistic goal for some recipients.
For those recipients, a college diploma is a proven way out of poverty and an important tool in staying off assistance. This is particularly true for recipients who were already attending college when the current spell of neediness occurred. This would alleviate concerns that a recipient would have to drop out of college in order to perform his or her public assistance work requirements to maintain necessary assistance.
The bill will also benefit social services districts. It will give them one more option in fashioning a program for public assistance recipients. It will also help them meet work participation requirements. The bill does not require districts to approve every recipient for attendance in a four-year college. Instead, it permits a district to consider such activity for its local employment plan and to make individual assignments consistent with its evaluation and assessment of employability.
Consistent with the general purpose of permitting four-year colleges as a permissible work activity, the bill would amend section SSL 131-n, which specifies income and resources an applicant or recipient of public assistance may have and still be eligible for assistance. Currently, an applicant or recipient can maintain up to $1,400 in a bank account for the purpose of paying for a two-year secondary education. Without changing the amount, this bill would permit a person to maintain an account for a four year secondary education. The bill also provides that any assignment to any vocational educational training or educational activity will be permitted only to the extent that it is consistent with the individual's assessment
and employment plan goals. This provision reflects the goals of the assessments and employability plans as set forth in SSL § 335 and § 335-a and the State's policy of meeting the educational needs of public assistance recipients in order to enhance their employment opportunities.
BUDGET IMPLICATIONS: It is anticipated that this bill would have a minimal fiscal impact.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill would become effective immediately; provided, however, that the amendments to paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 of section 131-n of the social services law made by section five of this act shall not affect the expiration of such section and shall be deemed to expire therewith.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2323 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 18, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. MONTGOMERY, ADAMS, DIAZ, DILAN, HASSELL-THOMPSON, HUNTLEY, KRUEGER, OPPENHEIMER, PARKER, PERKINS, SAMPSON, SAVINO, SQUA- DRON, STAVISKY, STEWART-COUSINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Social Services AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to clarifying the definitions of vocational educational training and educational activ- ities THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subdivision 2 of section 335-a of the social services law, as amended by section 148 of part B of chapter 436 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows: (a) Based on the assessment required by subdivision one of this section, the social services official, in consultation with the partic- ipant, shall develop an employability plan in writing which shall set forth the services that will be provided by the social services official and the activities in which the participant will take part, including supportive services and shall set forth an employment goal for the participant.
[A local social services district may assign recipients in households without dependent children to any activity.]TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, THE EMPLOYABILITY PLAN SHALL REFLECT THE PREFERENCES OF THE PARTICIPANT IN A MANNER THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE RESULTS OF THE PARTICIPANT'S ASSESSMENT AND THE NEED OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES DISTRICT TO MEET FEDERAL AND STATE WORK ACTIVITY PARTICIPATION REQUIREMENTS, AND, IF SUCH PREFERENCES CANNOT BE ACCOMMODATED, THE REASONS SHALL BE SPECIFIED IN THE EMPLOYABILITY PLAN. The employability plan also shall take into account the participant's supportive services needs, available program resources, local employment opportunities, and where the social services official is considering an educational activity assignment for such participant, the participant's liability for student loans, grants and scholarship awards. The employability plan shall be explained to theEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD05081-01-1 S. 2323 2
participant. Any change to the participant's employability plan required by the social services official shall be discussed with the participant and shall be documented in writing. S 2. Paragraph (h) of subdivision 1 of section 336 of the social services law, as amended by chapter 214 of the laws of 1998, is amended to read as follows: (h) vocational educational training as time limited by federal law. For the purposes of this title, "vocational educational training" shall include but not be limited to organized educational programs offering a sequence of courses which are directly related to the preparation of individuals for current or emerging occupations
[requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree]INCLUDING PROGRAMS THAT REQUIRE UP TO FOUR YEARS OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION. Such programs shall include competency-based applied learning which contributes to an individual's academic knowledge, higher-order reasoning, and problem-solving skills, work attitudes, general employability skills, and the occupational-spe- cific skills necessary for economic independence. Such term also includes applied technology education; S 3. Paragraph (i) of subdivision 1 of section 336 of the social services law, as added by section 148 of part B of chapter 436 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows: (i) job skills training directly related to employment. JOB SKILLS TRAINING DIRECTLY RELATED TO EMPLOYMENT SHALL INCLUDE BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO PARTICIPATION IN UP TO FOUR YEARS OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION TO THE EXTENT CONSISTENT WITH FEDERAL AND STATE REQUIREMENTS; S 4. Subdivision 1 of section 336-a of the social services law, as amended by section 148 of part B of chapter 436 of the laws of 1997, is amended to read as follows: 1. Social services districts shall make available vocational educa- tional training and educational activities INCLUDING PROGRAMS THAT REQUIRE UP TO FOUR YEARS OF POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION. Such activities may include but need not be limited to, high school education or educa- tion designed to prepare a participant for a high school equivalency certificate, basic and remedial education, AND education in English proficiency and SHALL INCLUDE no more than a total of [two]FOUR years of post-secondary education (or the part-time equivalent if full-time study would constitute an undue hardship) [in]. EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION MAY BE OFFERED WITH any of the following providers which meet the performance or assessment standards established in regulations by the commissioner for such providers: a community college, licensed trade school, registered business school, or a two- year OR FOUR-YEAR college; provided, however, that such post-secondary education must be necessary to the attainment of the participant's indi- vidual employment goal as set forth in the employability plan and such goal must relate directly to obtaining useful employment in a recognized occupation. WHEN MAKING ANY ASSIGNMENT TO ANY EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITY PURSUANT TO THIS SUBDIVISION, SUCH ASSIGNMENT SHALL BE PERMITTED ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT SUCH ASSIGNMENT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE INDIVIDUAL'S ASSESSMENT AND EMPLOYMENT PLAN GOALS IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTIONS THREE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE AND THREE HUNDRED THIRTY-FIVE-A OF THIS TITLE AND SHALL REQUIRE THAT THE INDIVIDUAL MAINTAINS SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS PROVISION "SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS" SHALL MEAN SATISFACTORY PROGRESS AS DEFINED IN 20 USC 1091(C). S 5. Paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 of section 131-n of the social services law, as amended by chapter 373 of the laws of 2003, is amended to read as follows:S. 2323 3
(c) an amount up to one thousand four hundred dollars in a separate bank account established by an individual while currently in receipt of assistance for the purpose of paying tuition at a two-year OR FOUR-YEAR accredited post-secondary educational institution, so long as the funds are not used for any other purpose, S 6. This act shall take effect immediately; provided, however, that the amendments to paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 of section 131-n of the social services law made by section five of this act shall not affect the expiration of such section and shall be deemed to expire therewith.