(1) AUTHORIZATION.—Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, Workforce Florida, Inc., in conjunction with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Economic Opportunity, shall implement a Passport to Economic Progress program consistent with the provisions of this section. Workforce Florida, Inc., may designate regional workforce boards to participate in the program. Expenses for the program may come from appropriated revenues or from funds otherwise available to a regional workforce board which may be legally used for such purposes. Workforce Florida, Inc., must consult with the applicable regional workforce boards and the applicable local offices of the Department of Children and Family Services which serve the program areas and must encourage community input into the implementation process.
(2) WAIVERS.—If Workforce Florida, Inc., in consultation with the Department of Children and Family Services, finds that federal waivers would facilitate implementation of the program, the department shall immediately request such waivers, and Workforce Florida, Inc., shall report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives if any refusal of the federal government to grant such waivers prevents the implementation of the program. If Workforce Florida, Inc., finds that federal waivers to provisions of the Food Assistance Program would facilitate implementation of the program, the Department of Children and Family Services shall immediately request such waivers in accordance with s. 414.175. (3) TRANSITIONAL BENEFITS AND SERVICES.—In order to assist them in making the transition to economic self-sufficiency, former recipients of temporary cash assistance participating in the passport program shall be eligible for the following benefits and services: (a) Notwithstanding the time period specified in s. 445.030, transitional education and training support services as specified in s. 445.030 for up to 4 years after the family is no longer receiving temporary cash assistance; (b) Notwithstanding the time period specified in s. 445.031, transitional transportation support services as specified in s. 445.031 for up to 4 years after the family is no longer receiving temporary cash assistance; and (c) Notwithstanding the time period specified in s. 445.032, transitional child care as specified in s. 445.032 for up to 4 years after the family is no longer receiving temporary cash assistance.
All other provisions of ss. 445.030, 445.031, and 445.032 shall apply to such individuals, as appropriate. This subsection does not constitute an entitlement to transitional benefits and services. If funds are insufficient to provide benefits and services under this subsection, the board of directors of Workforce Florida, Inc., or its agent, may limit such benefits and services or otherwise establish priorities for the provisions of such benefits and services.
(4) INCENTIVES TO ECONOMIC SELF-SUFFICIENCY.— (a) The Legislature finds that:
1. There are former recipients of temporary cash assistance and families who are eligible for temporary assistance for needy families who are working full time but whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
2. Having incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level makes such individuals particularly vulnerable to reliance on public assistance despite their best efforts to achieve or maintain economic independence through employment.
3. It is necessary to implement a performance-based program that defines economic incentives for achieving specific benchmarks toward self-sufficiency while the individual is working full time.
(b) Workforce Florida, Inc., in cooperation with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Economic Opportunity, shall offer performance-based incentive bonuses as a component of the Passport to Economic Progress program. The bonuses do not represent a program entitlement and shall be contingent on achieving specific benchmarks prescribed in the self-sufficiency plan. If the funds appropriated for this purpose are insufficient to provide this financial incentive, the board of directors of Workforce Florida, Inc., may reduce or suspend the bonuses in order not to exceed the appropriation or may direct the regional boards to use resources otherwise given to the regional workforce to pay such bonuses if such payments comply with applicable state and federal laws.
(c) To be eligible for an incentive bonus under this subsection, an individual must:
1. Be a former recipient of temporary cash assistance who last received such assistance on or after January 1, 2000, or be part of a family that is eligible for temporary assistance for needy families;
2. Be employed full time, which for the purposes of this subsection means employment averaging at least 32 hours per week, until the United States Congress enacts legislation reauthorizing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant and, after the reauthorization, means employment complying with the employment requirements of the reauthorization; and
3. Have an average family income for the 6 months preceding the date of application for an incentive bonus which is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
(5) EVALUATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.—Workforce Florida, Inc., in conjunction with the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Economic Opportunity, and the regional workforce boards, shall conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of the program operated under this section. Evaluations and recommendations for the program shall be submitted by Workforce Florida, Inc., as part of its annual report to the Legislature.
(6) CONFLICTS.—If there is a conflict between the implementation procedures described in this section and federal requirements and regulations, federal requirements and regulations shall control.