It is always essential to determine eligibility for your participant’s continued enrollment mainly because a change in their income and family size could affect their ability to remain in the program. Every time recertification rolls around whether it’s done on the anniversary date or all at once during a specific time of the year - you might think to yourself, “Already!” Yes, Already…. So, now that time has come and you have to meet with the participants, verify their eligibility and collect documents. We know it takes time out of your already hectic days and it can become a scheduling nightmare. However, if done strategically, you could breeze through the process and get it done. Believe it or not - there is a method to the madness that has been proven to be efficient and less time-consuming.
First things first - be sure you’re clear on the requirements for recertification. As you are aware, participants must be recertified to determine whether or not they can continue to participate in SCSEP. You have to verify their eligibility at least once every 12 months. Remember, it’s not annually but every 12 months of being enrolled. We all know things happen, so you can verify eligibility any time if circumstances warrants. Now, are you supposed to be “Inspector Gadget?” Not at all! It’s not your responsibility to investigate income changes between certifications. However, if you learn of a considerable change that impacts the participant’s income and family size, it could make the participant over income. Therefore, you should recertify their eligibility as soon as you become aware of these changes. Just some good ole’ food for thought.
Tell me, how would you conduct recertification? A grantee may opt to recertify on the participants' anniversary dates while the other prefers recertifying all participants at the same time each year. For example, Super Duper Aging Services conducts recertification in March every program year. March is a good time because the new Health and Human Services poverty guidelines are published in January. This will enable you to recertify your participants based on the new guidelines. Now you may be thinking, “What if I recertified participants in February or even January?” Its ok, you can conduct another recertification to ensure they continue to meet the income criteria. Its good practice to double-check and be on the right side of eligibility compliance.
Now, on the other hand, Forever Young Senior Services utilizes SPARQ’s recertification report to schedule each participant according to their anniversary date. They meet with each participant individually, review their eligibility and may even use that opportunity to re-assess the participant’s training progress and update their IEP. Hmm, have you ever thought of that? This additional activity may be one of those best practices to consider while conducting a recertification. Bottom line – it’s your choice which process you prefer and eventually what works for you and keeps you compliant.
When preparing for your recertification, it’s good to give ample notice to the participants – some grantees provide 30 days’ notice. Make sure the notice contains the essential information about why, when, where, and the specific documentation needed. Regardless of which recertification process you use, be well prepared, have your income calculation worksheet and your data collection handbook or even a “cheat sheet” of some sort. Most importantly, make the process as smooth and easy as possible, and use this time to engage with your participants.
Look out for more information; the SCSEP Recertification TEGL is forthcoming.