68-1724. Cash assistance; duration; reimbursement of expenses; when; conditions; extension of time limit.

(1) Cash assistance shall be provided for a period or periods of time not to exceed a total of sixty months for recipient families with children subject to the following:

(a) If the state fails to meet the specific terms of the self-sufficiency contract developed under section 68-1719, the sixty-month time limit established in this section shall be extended;

(b) The sixty-month time period for cash assistance shall begin within the first month of eligibility;

(c) When no longer eligible to receive cash assistance, assistance shall be available to reimburse work-related child care expenses even if the recipient family has not achieved economic self-sufficiency. The amount of such assistance shall be based on a cost-shared plan between the recipient family and the state which shall provide assistance up to two hundred percent of the federal poverty level prior to October 1, 2023, or one hundred eighty-five percent of the federal poverty level on and after October 1, 2023. A recipient family may be required to contribute up to twenty percent of such family's gross income for child care. It is the intent of the Legislature that transitional health care coverage be made available on a sliding-scale basis to individuals and families with incomes up to one hundred eighty-five percent of the federal poverty level if other health care coverage is not available; and

(d) The self-sufficiency contract shall be revised and cash assistance extended when there is no job available for adult members of the recipient family. It is the intent of the Legislature that available job shall mean a job which results in an income of at least equal to the amount of cash assistance that would have been available if receiving assistance minus unearned income available to the recipient family.

The department shall develop policy guidelines to allow for cash assistance to persons who have received the maximum cash assistance provided by this section and who face extreme hardship without additional assistance. For purposes of this section, extreme hardship means a recipient family does not have adequate cash resources to meet the costs of the basic needs of food, clothing, and housing without continuing assistance or the child or children are at risk of losing care by and residence with their parent or parents.

(2) Cash assistance conditions under the Welfare Reform Act shall be as follows:

(a) Adults in recipient families shall mean individuals at least nineteen years of age living with and related to a child eighteen years of age or younger and shall include parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, or grandparents, whether the relationship is biological, adoptive, or step;

(b) The payment standard shall be based upon family size;

(c) The adults in the recipient family shall ensure that the minor children regularly attend school. Education is a valuable personal resource. The cash assistance provided to the recipient family may be reduced when the parent or parents have failed to take reasonable action to encourage the minor children of the recipient family ages sixteen and under to regularly attend school. No reduction of assistance shall be such as may result in extreme hardship. It is the intent of the Legislature that a process be developed to insure communication between the case manager, the parent or parents, and the school to address issues relating to school attendance;

(d) Two-parent families which would otherwise be eligible under section 43-504 or a federally approved waiver shall receive cash assistance under this section;

(e) For minor parents, the assistance payment shall be based on the minor parent's income. If the minor parent lives with at least one parent, the family's income shall be considered in determining eligibility and cash assistance payment levels for the minor parent. If the minor parent lives independently, support shall be pursued from the parents of the minor parent. If the absent parent of the minor's child is a minor, support from his or her parents shall be pursued. Support from parents as allowed under this subdivision shall not be pursued when the family income is less than three hundred percent of the federal poverty guidelines; and

(f) For adults who are not biological or adoptive parents or stepparents of the child or children in the family, if assistance is requested for the entire family, including the adults, a self-sufficiency contract shall be entered into as provided in section 68-1719. If assistance is requested for only the child or children in such a family, such children shall be eligible after consideration of the family's income and if (i) the family cooperates in pursuing child support and (ii) the minor children of the family regularly attend school.

Source:Laws 1994, LB 1224, § 24; Laws 1995, LB 455, § 15; Laws 2007, LB351, § 11; Laws 2019, LB460, § 2; Laws 2021, LB485, § 2.