First of all, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to submit a solution to the response rate issue that we are faced with every year when doing verification.
My solution is based on 15 years of experience doing the verification process in the National School Lunch Program. I was part of a Pilot program with the USDA where I had to verify 100% of the applications for meals several years ago. I cannot recall the exact amount of years I had to verify 100% of the applications, but I think it was 3 years. Based on the data that the USDA received from this study, it was determined that it was not necessary to verify ALL applications because what people wrote on their application was deemed truthful.
A great deal of our free students are now directly certified, so the application process has decreased significantly throughout the years. I accept and process all applications at my school district. We have a separate process for verification of income for book waivers that I am not involved in at all.
Here are two of my solutions:
- I think all of the applicants for free or reduced meals should have to go through DHS and for them to certify whether a student is approved free or reduced as they are done in the direct certification for all of the other free categories. This would eliminate the verification process completely. If the applicant does not qualify through DHS, then they should not qualify at the school level by writing down their income without verification of 100% of all applicants.
- I think the verification process should be restructured and that verification should be done during the registration or application process. The reason I think that this should be done during this time is because this is the time when parent/guardian is bringing in verification of income for book waivers. When I approve an application and I have to contact a parent/guardian several months after this process, people do not comprehend what we are actually doing because they have already been approved. If you look at an application of benefits to become direct certified, the verification for that approval is done for SNAP, TANF, FOSTER, HOMELESS, MEDICAID, etc at the time of the application. They do not approve the application for benefits until they have the information they need to “verify” what the applicant has written on the application. It is the same with a home loan or any other “benefit” a person applies for in this country.
My solutions are common sense solutions and are based on many things that I have seen on a day to day, year to year basis. WE are allowing benefits to be issued with NO proof of anything. This is costing the taxpayers, both our state and federal governments a great deal of money because people are applying for the “benefit” of receiving free or reduced meals WITHOUT having to show any proof of what they have written on their application.
We are being inundated with so much senseless paperwork that could be done in a department that already has all of the processes it goes through to determine if people qualify for benefits.