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Collateral contact DEFINITION OF A COLLATERAL CONTACT A collateral contact is a source of information that is knowledgeable about the clients situation

and serves to support or corroborate information provided by a client. Communication with a collateral contact may be made in person, over the telephone, or by mail. Possible collateral contacts include:
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Past or present landlords; Employers; School officials; Neighbors; Day care providers; and Other persons outside the household.

If the information provided by a collateral contact is questionable, the case worker may need to make additional contacts. PURPOSE OF A COLLATERAL CONTACT Collateral contacts help ensure correct eligibility and payment determinations through validation of household circumstances by a third party. Case workers may make a collateral contact when a clients statement is questionable or when documentary evidence of certain eligibility criteria is not available. HOW TO OBTAIN A COLLATERAL CONTACT A case worker may request that the client provide the names of several persons as collateral contacts. This can occur during a face-to-face interview, a home visit, by telephone or in writing when an eligibility factor or questionable statement must be verified by a source outside of the household. The client may give the case worker the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the contact persons in writing or verbally. The case worker must explain to the client why a collateral contact is necessary and what information will be requested. Sometimes a client may request that DPA not contact a specific contact person. In this situation, the case worker should respect the client's request. The case worker is not required to use a collateral contact person designated by the household if the contact person cannot be expected to provide accurate third party verification. If a contact person designated by the household is unacceptable, the case worker may select a contact person. WHAT TO DO IF THE CLIENT DOES NOT NAME A COLLATERAL CONTACT PERSON If a client does not designate a contact person, the case worker should explain what information is needed or which eligibility criteria must be verified. Benefits may not be denied or discontinued because a client did not designate a contact person. All clients are required to furnish information and verification necessary to establish initial and

continuing program eligibility. Benefits may be denied because a client did not provide requested information or adequate verification that he or she met certain eligibility criteria. WHEN TO MAKE A COLLATERAL CONTACT The client is responsible for providing information needed to determine the households eligibility. The case worker must first give the household the opportunity to resolve any questionable information or to provide any necessary verification. When necessary, the case worker may make a collateral contact to confirm questionable information or to assist the client in expediting the verification process. Note: It is important that Eligibility Technicians and case managers communicate with each other regularly to avoid multiple contacts within a short time frame to the same collateral contact. Employers in particular dislike repeated requests from the same agency for the same information. HOW TO CONDUCT A COLLATERAL CONTACT Whenever possible, collateral contacts should be made in the presence of the client. Then, if the contact person provides inadequate or discrepant information, the client can explain the discrepancy and/or designate an alternate contact person When making a collateral contact, case workers must always:
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Identify themselves by giving their name, title, and the name of the division or department; Ask only questions which are pertinent to determining the client's eligibility for public assistance; and Document all of the information reported by the contact in the case record, including the contact person's name, title, relationship to the client, and phone number. Note: In the course of making collateral or other third party contacts, the contact person may learn that the client is applying for assistance. This does not constitute a violation of the confidentiality regulations. If, however, the contact person asks for information about the client, the case worker must politely decline to give information and explain the confidentiality requirements.