The Mississippi Department of Human Services recently made changes to several key policies that will better support working parents seeking assistance through the programs.
One of the most significant changes involves the residency policy requirement. Others expand the list of acceptable documentation and support short-form birth certificates.
Here is a link to the revised manual: http://www.sos.ms.gov/adminsearch/ACProposed/00023201b.pdf
Here are the changes in the CCPP Manual:
Amended Proof of Residency Policy to be far less punitive
The previous proof of residency policy was a significant barrier for parents in the 2017 redetermination process. It required a parent to provide a state-issued ID in addition to two supporting documents, such as utility bills, each with addresses matching the address on file with the agency. While the revised policy makes clear that a parent must reside in Mississippi to be eligible, a parent is now required to provide only 1 form of residence verification, which can include rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, or a state-issued ID.
If these forms of verification are inadequate, the new policy directs workers to review other documents that parents are required to submit to verify other factors of eligibility, such as income documents, and the policy makes clear that such documents must be accepted as verification of residence.
Most importantly, this policy does not mandate a specific type of document to prove verification and makes clear that any document reasonably establishing identity must be accepted. This gives parents and MDHS workers greater flexibility and will result is fewer terminations and denials once it is in effect.
MLICCI pushed for this change for the past year in many settings: We asked the agency to change this policy at a public hearing in May 2017; Parents and child care providers shared the personal impact this policy had on them through a series of town hall meetings throughout the state culminating in a summary report asking for this change. We contracted with the Mississippi Center for Justice to establish a source of legal representation for those parents who had lost assistance due to this policy in the agency appeals process. And we submitted numerous public comments at State Early Childhood Advisory Council meetings and appealed for this change through countless emails and meetings with agency officials.
Added a Proof of Identity policy
While this policy is new, it simply requires the parents to provide 1 form of documentary evidence of their identity, including a range of IDs, wage stubs or voter registration cards; Most importantly, this policy does not mandate a specific type of document and makes clear that any document reasonably establishing identity must be accepted
Expanded acceptable methods of submitting required documentation
The new policy allows parents to submit documents in person at their local MDHS office, in addition to online, fax, and postal mail. This change will make it easier for parents who are more familiar with their local county office than the state office in Jackson.
Expanded acceptable forms of income documents for self-employed parents
The new policy includes an alternative proof of income in the event a parent is newly self-employed and has yet to file a tax return. The previous policy did not include an alternative option for newly self-employed parents, so if they had yet to file a tax return, they were unable to comply with the previous requirement.
Eliminated the requirement to provide a long form birth certificate
If a parent needs a new copy of a long-form birth certificate, it takes substantial time and can sometimes be difficult to easily obtain, leading to a parent’s inability to comply with this requirement. Under the new policy, a parent need only prove that their child was born and they can achieve this through a range of documents, including immunization records and other types of documentation that parents and child care providers will have more readily available.