Establishing Member Files
After you have selected a corps of individuals to serve in your community, the enrollment process begins by establishing member files. The organization and maintenance of member files is perhaps the most essential administrative function performed by a Program Director. The documents maintained in these files ensure that members are eligible for their positions at the time of enrollment and to receive member benefits throughout and after their term of service. All required member documentation must be retained for a minimum of three years after the close of the three-year grant with which it is associated as required by 45 CFR§2541.420. It is also imperative that these documents are kept in a safe and secure location with limited access granted only to essential program staff persons. If a member submits a written request to view the contents of their file, they must be permitted to do so.
A Member File Checklist of all required documentation can be found in Appendix F-Member File Checklist. The documents referenced there are described below. Questions or clarifications about these documents should be directed to your CCCS Program Officer.
A program may store member files electronically and use electronic signatures if the program can ensure the validity and integrity of the record and signature are maintained. See the most recent AmeriCorps State and National Terms & Conditions for required criteria electronic systems must meet.
TIP: Before a major enrollment/exit period, it may be helpful to do a refresher course on using the eGrants/MyAmeriCorps Portal. Tutorials are available at: http://www.nationalservice.gov/resources/americorps/myamericorps-support-americorps-state-commissions-and-sub-grantees-egrants-0
The application submitted by a member to apply for the AmeriCorps position must be included in the member’s file. This application should be signed and dated at the time of application. Applications submitted via the My.AmeriCorps.gov portal include compliant electronic dating and signature capacities. See the most recent AmeriCorps State and National Terms & Conditions for required criteria electronic systems must meet.
Member Contract/ Service Agreement
An AmeriCorps member must have a member contract or member service agreement in place prior to starting service. The member contract serves as a legally enforceable agreement between your organization and the person to whom you’ve offered the AmeriCorps service position. The member contract should include the member’s term of service; the service start date must be the same as the enrollment date certified in the My AmeriCorps/eGrants portal. The member contract must be signed by the member and an authorized program staff member prior to the start of service. A copy of the signed member contract must be provided to the member.
CNCS requires that all member contracts include:
- Member position description;
- The minimum number of service hours (as required by statute) and other requirements (as developed by the program) necessary to successfully complete the term of service and to be eligible for the education award;
- The amount of the education award the individual may receive upon successful completion of the term of service;
- Standards of conduct as developed by the program;
- The list of prohibited activities, including a verbatim list of those AmeriCorps-prohibited activities per federal regulations at 45 CFR 2520.65;
- Requirements under the Drug-Free Workplace Act (41 U.S.C. 701 et seq.);
- Civil rights requirements, complaint procedures, and rights of beneficiaries;
- Suspension and termination rules;
- The specific circumstances under which a member may be released for cause;
- Grievance procedures; and
- Other requirements as established by the grantee.
Your organization is responsible for finalizing the contents of this contract and obtaining the necessary signatures prior to the start of service. CNCS provides a sample member contract at http://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/resource/member-ho3-agreement-4-13-12.pdf. Keep in mind that you must tailor your member contract to suit the specific needs of your program while ensuring that applicable Terms & Conditions for AmeriCorps State and National Grants requirements are met (See Service Position Description Development).
My.AmeriCorps.gov/ eGrants Enrollment and Exit
CNCS requires that all members enroll and exit online using the My AmeriCorps portal.
A member must be pre-enrolled via My AmeriCorps prior to starting service with your program. Pre-enrollment means your program has invited the member applicant to join your program in the My.AmeriCorps.gov portal and that applicant has accepted your invitation and provided enrollment information in My.AmeriCorps.gov, triggering an automated social security and citizenship verification process by the Social Security Administration.
The member enrollment process via My AmeriCorps must be completed 5 days or less after a member’s first day of service; the start date a program certifies to in the My.AmeriCorps.gov/eGrants portal should be the same as the effective start date indicated on the member contract. Enrollment means your program has certified it has received citizenship and SSA verifications for the member applicant from the National Service Trust, completed a cleared National Sex Offender Registry Check on the member applicant, initiated state of service, state of residence, and FBI fingerprint criminal history checks on the member applicant, and officially enrolls the member in My AmeriCorps, enabling the member to serve hours toward his/her service year.
Detailed requirements and instructions are available in the Commission’s Member Pre-Enrollment & Enrollment in eGrants Policy.
The member exit process via My AmeriCorps must be completed 30 days or less after a member’s last day of service, whether or not they successfully completed their full term of service.
Adherence to these enrollment and exit deadlines is strictly monitored both by CCCS and CNCS via the My AmeriCorps portal. Programs are expected to prioritize compliance with this requirement highly.
As of the 2015-2016 service year, program staff are no longer permitted to use the staff portal in My AmeriCorps to enroll or exit members into or out of service unless the program has had a written request approved by CNCS for exemption from this requirement. AmeriCorps members must perform their own enrollment and exit process is My AmeriCorps. CNCS may grant exemptions based on extenuating circumstances related to barriers a program’s member target population may experience regarding computer access or ability. Contact your CCCS Program Officer if you feel this might apply to your program.
Programs may request hard-copy/written documents/forms from members related to enrollment or exit for retention in their member files. However, these forms are considered supplemental in nature — not a replacement for processing through the My AmeriCorps Portal — and therefore will not apply toward compliance with the enrollment or exit deadlines even if processed within the applicable timeline.
TIP: Encourage your members to complete the optional Member Exit Survey that accompanies the Member Exit Form they are required to complete in My AmeriCorps. The Member Exit Survey collects important data regarding each member’s service experience; greater response rates to this Survey improve the quality of the data. Members should be urged to complete this survey regardless of whether they exit service at completion or before.
Proof of Citizenship and Age
Members must provide to the AmeriCorps program documentation to show that they are of membership age and are U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens as articulated in the most recently updated Terms & Conditions for AmeriCorps State and National Grants. Program staff must document that the identification provided has been reviewed and verified. A list of acceptable documentation is included in Appendix F-Member File Checklist.
If during the pre-enrollment process, a member applicant’s social security number or citizenship cannot be verified automatically by the Social Security Administration, programs will be required to submit the applicant’s verification documentation to the CNCS Hotline. CNCS staff will review the submitted documentation and update the applicant’s status in the My.AmeriCorps.gov portal to “Manually Verified.” This verification documentation and a record of status change should be kept in the member’s file. See the Commission’s Member Pre-Enrollment & Enrollment in eGrants Policy
Any member under 18 must also have a Parental Consent Form on file.
Criminal History Check Documentation
Confirmation documentation must be retained for all three parts (statewide search(es), NSOPR/W and FBI search) of teach completed staff or member criminal history check — unless your program has a CNCS/CCCS-approved Alternate Search Protocol (ASP) in place. Documentation must detail the results of each part of the criminal history search conducted and the program must verify the name(s) of each record searched. Refer to Conducting Criminal History Checks for details on criminal history check requirements.
Proof of Education
In order to utilize the Segal Education Award benefit earned from successfully completing a full term of AmeriCorps service, a member must have a high school diploma or GED (45 CFR§2522.200). Members who have not yet obtained a GED or diploma at the time of enrollment can complete GED classes during their term of service or agree to complete GED classes/ obtain a diploma prior to using the award. These members need to complete a GED/Diploma Agreement Letter that states that they will obtain a GED/diploma and dictates the estimated date of completion.
If an enrolling member states that they have completed high school or has earned a high school equivalency, the program is strongly encouraged to obtain a copy of the his/her diploma, GED or official high school or college transcript as documented proof of education. However, if a program is unable to obtain said documentation after unsuccessful attempts, the member’s own certification in the My AmeriCorps Portal is sufficient. In this instance, a copy of the completed CNCS Enrollment Form or printout of the My AmeriCorps screen should be maintained in the file.
Media Release Form
Programs must obtain the prior written consent from all members before using their names, images, or other identifying information in press, photographs, or videos for publicity, promotional or other purposes per the most recently updated Terms & Conditions for AmeriCorps State and National Grants.
Tutoring Program Requirements
All programs that engage members as tutors must comply with 45 CFR§2522.900- 950. Applicable documentation should be included in the member file.
Performance evaluations are required for all AmeriCorps members. Part-time members must receive at least one end-of-term evaluation. Full-time members must receive both a mid-term and end-of-term evaluation. The format of the evaluation is determined by each individual program, but the evaluation must be reviewed and signed by the AmeriCorps member as well as their assigned site supervisor. (Please see the Supervising Members for further information.)
Health and Child Care Enrollment or Waiver
This requirement applies to full-time members only. All full-time members must have either proof of enrollment or a signed waiver for both health care and childcare benefits. For proof of enrollment, programs must retain the member’s signed and approved application. Members who elect to decline either or both services must certify in writing that they have sufficient health coverage elsewhere and/or do not qualify for or wish to use childcare benefits. For members who have declined health care due to sufficient coverage elsewhere, the program must maintain current copies of those members’ health insurance cards in the members’ files. For details on specific health care and childcare benefits, refer to Health Care and Childcare sections.
IMPORTANT: All recipients and subrecipients need to be prepared for potential breaches of Personally Identifiable Information, PII. OMB defines PII as any information about an individual, including, but not limited to, education, financial transactions, medical history, and criminal or employment history and information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual's identity, such as their name, social security number, date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, biometric records, etc., including any other personal information which is linked or linkable to an individual. All recipients and subrecipients must ensure that they have procedures in place to prepare for and respond to breaches of PII, and notify the Federal awarding agency in the event of a breach. If your CNCS grant-funded program or project creates, collects, uses, processes, stores, maintains, disseminates, discloses, or disposes of PII within the scope of that Federal grant award, or uses or operates a Federal information system, you must establish procedures to prepare for and respond to a potential breach of PII, including notice of a breach of PII to CNCS. Grantees experiencing a breach should immediately notify CNCS’ Office of Information Technology, your CNCS Program Officer, and CNCS’ Office of Inspector General.