Unless you are disabled, your school age children under age 16 who are on the TAFDC grant must meet DTA’s school attendance requirements. If a child has too many unexcused absences, you will lose that child’s portion of the grant. This is called “Learnfare.” 106 C.M.R. § 203.900; DTA Online Guide (Learnfare Introduction). Children who are taught at home must provide documentation of an approved home school arrangement.
You will be put on TAFDC “probation” if your child had more than eight unexcused absences during the previous school quarter. A quarter is 45 school days. If the child has more than three unexcused absences during any month in the probation period, you will lose the child’s share of the grant. Probation continues until the child has six months in a row with no more than ten unexcused absences.
- Learnfare does not apply to your child if you are disabled. For disability, see Qualifying for a disability excemption?.
- Learnfare does not apply to children who are not the grant because they get SSI benefits, or because of their non-citizen status.
- Is your child missing school because of a learning disability or other disability? You can ask for a disability accommodation. See What if a disability makes it hard for you to meet DTA rules or use DTA services?, How do you ask DTA for an accommodation?, What are your rights if DTA denies your reasonable accommodation request?, Should you ask DTA to screen you for a learning disability?
- DTA requires you to tell DTA what school your child is enrolled in. If you do not provide the information, DTA will close your entire case. DTA Operations Memo 2013-49 (Sept. 12, 2013). DTA can require information about your child’s school attendance, but the requirement to provide school enrollment information may be illegal and it may be illegal to close the case for the entire family because of missing school enrollment information for one child. Contact an advocate if this is a problem for you.
- DTA cannot terminate the family grant even if the only child on the grant is under a Learnfare sanction. DTA Transitions, August 2004, p. 3.
- DTA considers any child age 6 or older to be school age and subject to the Learnfare requirement. See DTA Online Guide (Learnfare Introduction). DTA should not consider a six-year old child to be school age if the child has not yet started school and will still be six next September when school starts.
- DTA says children 16 or 17 must be in school full-time or register for the Employment Services Program (ESP). 106 C.M.R. § 207.000 (C). This may be illegal; consult an advocate if this is a problem for you. Also consider asking for an accommodation on the basis of disability or learning disability. See How do you ask DTA for an accommodation?, What are your rights if DTA denies your reasonable accommodation request?, Should you ask DTA to screen you for a learning disability?