(1) AUTHORIZATION.—Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the state board, in conjunction with the department and the Department of Children and Families, shall implement a Passport to Economic Progress program consistent with this section. The state board may designate local workforce development boards to participate in the program. Expenses for the program may come from appropriated revenues or from funds otherwise available to a local workforce development board which may be legally used for such purposes. The state board must consult with the applicable local workforce development boards and the applicable local offices of the Department of Children and Families which serve the program areas and must encourage community input into the implementation process.
(2) WAIVERS.—If the state board, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, finds that federal waivers would facilitate implementation of the program, the department shall immediately request such waivers, and the state board 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 the state board finds that federal waivers to provisions of the Food Assistance Program would facilitate implementation of the program, the Department of Children and Families 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 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 state board, 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) The state board, in cooperation with the department and the Department of Children and Families, 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 are 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 state board may reduce or suspend the bonuses in order not to exceed the appropriation or may direct the local workforce development boards to use resources otherwise given to the local workforce development board 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.—The state board, in conjunction with the department, the Department of Children and Families, and the local workforce development 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 the state board 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.