Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

Waiver Of The Face-To-Face Interview For The Food Support Program by chenboying



Bulletin                                                                       October 15, 2009

    Minnesota Department of Human Services -- P.O. Box 64941 -- St. Paul, MN 55164-0941


• County Directors
                             Waiver Of The Face-To-
• Financial Supervisors
• County Financial
                             Face Interview For The
  Workers                    Food Support Program
• Social Services
  Supervisors and Staff
• Tribal Human Services      TOPIC
  Directors                  Implementation of the face-to-face interview waiver for the Food
• Community                  Support Program.
                             Inform county staff about the face-to-face interview waiver along
                             with tips on successful phone interviews.

                             Direct policy questions related to this bulletin to PolicyQuest.
Please read, review and
implement changes
effective October 1, 2009.

                             CHARLES E. JOHNSON
October 15, 2011             Assistant Commissioner
                             Children & Family Services
Bulletin #09-01-05
October 15, 2009
Page 2

I. Background

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) applied for and received approval from
Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) to waive the requirement to document hardship when
conducting a telephone interview in lieu of a face-to-face interview at application and
recertification for the Food Support (FS) program.

FNS finds that telephone interviews have consistently benefited households and assisted State
agencies in managing caseload growth. Minnesota now joins 34 other states that have already
implemented this waiver.

This waiver does not impact the Quality Control procedures used for reviewing FS cases. States
that have implemented this waiver have not seen a negative impact on their FS error rates.

As a condition of approval, Minnesota DHS and county agencies must:

    •   Determine on a case by case basis if a face-to-face interview is appropriate;
    •   Provide a face-to-face interview if requested by the client or authorized representative;
    •   Issue a Notice of Missed Interview (NOMI) to the client if the telephone interview is
        missed; and
    •   Ensure that the quality of the application or recertification process is not negatively
        affected. The requirements for requesting information during the interview and the
        verification process are the same regardless of the type of interview conducted.

Based on conversations with other states that have implemented the waiver and information
presented at the BIG TEN conference, this waiver has reduced waiting room congestion, allowed
for more focused interviews, created easier flexibility in interview times and benefited clients in
not having to make additional trips to the local office. All of this has been helpful in managing
the increased case load size. DHS recognizes this is a major change in process and offers the
following training, tips and things to consider regarding implementation.

II. Implementation

Effective immediately, counties can do phone interviews for all FS applications and
recertifications without the need to document hardship in the case file. All counties must
determine how to apply this change in the interviewing process for Food Support cases in a fair
and consistent manner. Many Food Support cases have another program open or requested.
Other programs may require a face-to-face interview. Consult your policy manuals on interview
requirements for other programs.
Bulletin #09-01-05
October 15, 2009
Page 3

III. Tips and Things to Consider
    • Consider location of the phone interview for data privacy issues, noise to co-workers and
        other interruptions. A sign announcing, “Phone Interview In Progress” at your desk may
        prevent interruptions.
    • Prepare your work space for the phone interview by having a space for the Combined
        Application Form (CAF) and the Worker Information Form (WIF) along with the
        Request for Verification form for any additional verifications needed.
    • If the phone interview is a recertification and you are conducting the phone interview at
        your desk, have the MAXIS case on your computer screen so you can easily review for
    • Headsets are recommended for the phone interview so both hands are free to document
        the responses to the questions.
    • Use your best customer services skills and a friendly voice when interviewing by phone.
        While it is easier to keep the focus on the interview questions, allow time for pauses and
        clients to absorb the information that we are requesting from them.
    • Inform and train your front office and receptionist staff. If they are responsible for setting
       appointments for interviews or giving information about interview options, work closely
       with them to ensure they have the information needed to schedule phone interviews.
       Develop a script or give them suggested language to use if that would be helpful.
    • Remind clients that they must send the completed CAF (signed and dated) to the county
       office before the interview can take place.
    • Clarify exactly what programs the client is requesting before setting up the interview
       appointment so the correct type of interview format is completed.
    • If during the phone interview, the client indicates a need for cash and if there are minor
       children in the household, advise them that a face-to-face interview is mandatory. Follow
       your county procedures in setting up this interview.
    • DHS will update the Suggested SPEC/MEMO Text to reflect the phone interview
       process. This POLI/TEMP section also includes updated guidance for the Notice of
       Missed Interview (NOMI) process.
    • If you feel an additional appointment reminder is needed for clients when setting up a
       recertification interview, you may confirm the time and date along with any other
       information specific to the case in a SPEC/MEMO to client.
    • Language barriers should not prevent clients from phone interviews. The same
       arrangements for interpreters and/or use of the language line should be arranged in
    • Consider what has to be done differently for new applications versus recertification
    • Screening for expedited food is critical; however, for those unable to stay for an
       immediate interview they may be available for a phone interview later in the day.
    • Some counties issue the initial EBT card for new applicants before the interview or when
       the case has been processed. Consider if there are changes needed to your county
       procedures to adapt to phone interviews.
    • Counties should develop fair and consistent guidelines available to all staff that outlines
       how to determine when a client needs to come into the office for an interview.
Bulletin #09-01-05
October 15, 2009
Page 4

IV. Training

Since many other states have already implemented this waiver, the TSS/TES training unit has
received tips for successful implementation from other states. These tips are in Attachment A of
this bulletin, and will be posted on TrainLink. Attachment B is an optional guide that counties
may use to facilitate the phone interview.

In late October and early November of 2009, the TSS/TES training unit will offer webinars to
county staff highlighting interview techniques and other suggestions for phone interviews in lieu
of face-to-face interviews. These webinars will be approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours in length and
allow county staff to sit at their desks to receive this information. Further details and instructions
on how to register and logon to the webinar will be announced in the near future via normal
training announcements for county staff.

DHS requests that counties share their best practices and tips. DHS training will gather this
information from the Training Advisory Committee (TRAC), compile and post the tips and best
practices on TrainLink.

V. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Advisory

This information is available in alternative formats to individuals with disabilities by calling
Aaron Coonce at (651) 431-4049. TTY users can call through Minnesota Relay at (800) 627-
3529. For Speech-to-Speech, call (877) 627-3848. For additional assistance with legal rights and
protections for equal access to human services programs, contact your agency’s ADA
                                                                            Attachment A
                                                                       Bulletin # 09-01-05

                         Helpful Hints for Telephone Interviews
    • Prepare as much as possible for the phone interview prior to contact.
    • Locate previous case record, if any.
    • Access MAXIS and read CASE/NOTE to see if previous history or information has any
       effect on current eligibility (e.g., program violations, sanctions, external matches)
    • Get appropriate screen prints from other systems (i.e. SAVE) and review information
       submitted by client so that discrepancies can be discussed.
    • Enter as much information as possible from the application into MAXIS.
    • Make note of unanswered questions that need clarification.
    • Have the Food Support Summary Checklist with you to act as a guide. (Attachment B)
    • Script introduction
    • Introduce yourself by using your title and name of your office.
    • Verify that you are speaking to the client.
    • Establish if it is a convenient time for you to speak with the client.
               If inconvenient, set up a convenient date and time allowing for both the client and
               yourself to review and complete the interview.
    • Explain to client the purpose of the call is to:
           1. Acknowledge their request for assistance.
           2. Clarify their answers on application.
           3. Answer questions they have regarding application process.
           4. Complete the application/interview process.
    • A smile in your voice can help make the telephone interview proceed more smoothly! Use
       calm, patient tone if the client’s voice seems anxious.
    • Keep your sentences short and uncomplicated, no compound sentences.
    • Ask for clarification if you do not understand what client is trying to say.
    • Ask open-ended questions and avoid leading questions. Do not ask, “Has your rent changed?”
       Instead, say, “How much is your rent?”
    • Keep the client focused by anticipating and blocking interruptions.
    • Restate what caller has said to make sure the information you are hearing is correct.
    • Offer any useful information that you feel is relevant to the telephone interview.
    • If telephone interview requires an additional follow-up call, ask when the best time to reach
       the client is. Follow-up with a SPEC/MEMO with a date and time of the next call.
    • Script the closing.
    • Make sure that if the client has questions you will give them an answer.
    • Schedule a follow up contact call if needed.
    • Summarize next steps or follow up verifications. Explain alternate verifications that are
    • Be clear on appropriate dates, such as when verifications are due.
    • Provide your telephone number and best time to reach you.
    • Tell the client that you will assist if they have difficulty obtaining verifications.
    • Thank the client for their time and reassure them that you will do your best to help them.
    • Complete entry of application into MAXIS.
                                                                                     October 15, 2009
                                                                        Attachment B
                                                                  Bulletin # 09-01-05
                        Food Support Summary Checklist
     Case Name:______________________     MAXIS Case #:_______
    Circle Y / N    Check Pertinent Area     Notes
 Application Screening   □ Expedited Y/N (Circle One)
                         □ Waiver Face to Face
   Processing Y / N
                           (Telephone Interview)
                         □ Walk In □ Mail In / Drop Off / FAX
                         □ Date of Application:___________
                         □ Date of Interview:____________
                         □ Identity               □ SSN
                         □ Residence
 Household Composition   □ Household Members
                         □ Non household members
        Y / N
                         □ Deemers
                         □ Student Status
                         □ Eating Groups
   Noncitizen Y / N      □ Qualified Noncitizen
                         □ Ineligible Noncitizen
                         □ Noncitizen choosing not to Apply
Work Requirement Y / N   □ FS FSET
                         □ Voluntary Quit
                         □ Prior Disqualification
     Assets Y / N        □ Checking          □ Vehicles
                         □ Savings           □ Stocks, IRAs
                         □ Domestic Violence Brochure (DVB)
                         □ Other
     Income Y / N        □ Employed
                         □ Employment past 60 days /
                            Voluntary Quit
                         □ External Agency Matches
                         □ IPV
 Earned Income Y / N     □ Last Six Months
                         □ Excluded Income
                         □ Self-employment (Tax Forms)
                         □ Non-continuing Income
Unearned Income Y / N    □ SSI / RSDI
                         □ Unemployment (UC)
                         □ Child Support     □ Worker’s Comp.
                         □ Other _______
  Shelter Costs Y / N    □ Rent
                         □ Mortgage □ Taxes         □ Insurance
                         □ Homeless
                         □ No deduction allowed (not verified)
  Utility Costs Y / N    □ Heat / Air            □ Actual
                         □ Electric
                         □ Phone
                         □ No deduction allowed (not verified)
 Child Care Expenses     □ Child Care Assistance Program

         Y / N
Child Support Payments   □ Verified Legal Obligation
                         □ No deduction allowed (not verified)
         Y / N
Medical Expenses Y / N   □ Elderly / Disabled
                         □ No deduction allowed (not verified)
        Other:           □ Categorically Eligible

                                                                                  October 15, 2009

To top