The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is a time-limited program that provides financial assistance to eligible needy families with (or expecting) children to help pay for housing, food, utilities, clothing, medical care, and other necessary expenses.
Generally, families are eligible to receive cash aid and services when:
- The eligible children are deprived of parental support or care due to:
- Unemployment/underemployment; or
- Continued absence of one or both parents.
- A needy or non-needy caretaker provides care for foster children.
The program also provides assistance with the following types of services:
- Homeless Assistance;
- Cal-Learn, a teen parent program;
- Welfare-to-Work services by participating in the Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program which provides the following types of assistance:
- Job preparation and work opportunities;
- Child care; and
- Specialized supportive services such as Domestic Violence; treatment for mental health and substance abuse problems; and Family Preservation Program.
Receiving many of the above services enables parents receiving CalWORKs assistance to become self-sufficient.
In order to receive CalWORKs benefits, the following will be taken into consideration for every member of the family when making a determination:
- Citizenship status or immigration status;
- Assets; and
- Other factors.
“Change to the Maximum Family Grant Rule”
Beginning January 1, 2017, children who were not receiving CalWORKs cash aid because of the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule were added to the grant and the cash aid increased.
Impact to Child Support Income
Families who were receiving child support payments directly from the absent parent or from the Child Support Services Department (CSSD) for a child who was previously denied cash aid because of the MFG rule may see some changes to the child support amount received when the child becomes eligible for cash aid.
These families will continue to receive up to $50 per month, called a “disregard”, when a current child support payment is received by CSSD. The rest of the child support received will be used to re-pay the cash aid the family has received.
The changes these families can expect to see are:
Child Support Payments Received from CSSD
- Beginning January 1, 2017, child support payments received for a former MFG child will be assigned to the State as a condition of receiving CalWORKs benefits.
- VOLUNTARY MID-PERIOD REPORT – Families must notify DPSS of any child support payment decrease. A decrease of child support payment may result in an increase to the CalWORKs cash aid.
Child Support Payments Received from the Absent Parent
- Beginning January 1, 2017, child support payments received for a former MFG child must be forwarded to the local Child Support Agency as a condition of receiving CalWORKs. The local Child Support Agency will assign the payment to the State as a condition of receiving CalWORKs.
- AVOID A COOPERATION PENALTY - Forwarding direct child support payments received is a child support cooperation requirement unless the family is exempt from cooperating. The payments must be forwarded to CSSD as soon as possible before the next SAR 7 report is due or the next annual Redetermination is due to avoid a 25 percent reduction to the CalWORKs grant.
Families are exempt from cooperation if they have a Good Cause for not cooperating. The child support exemptions are applicable when:
- Cooperation may reasonably be anticipated to result in serious physical, sexual, or emotional harm;
- The child for whom aid is sought was conceived as a result of incest or rape;
- Legal proceedings for the adoption of the child are pending; or
- A public or private agency is counseling the applicant regarding keeping the child or relinquishing the child for adoption.
For questions about child support or the amount of child support collected is higher than the amount of CalWORKs cash aid received, families can contact the Local Child support Agency at http://www.childsup.ca.gov/home/lcsaoffices.aspx or call
For questions regarding the MFG repeal, changes to Child Support Cooperation or to report a change in child support payment received, families can contact the Customer Service Center at 1-866-613-3777.
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HOW TO APPLY
Needy families may apply for assistance online or by coming in to one of our local DPSS Office locations. However, the easiest and quickest way is to apply for CalWORKs online at https://www.dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov/ybn/SignInPage.html or by selecting the icon below.
Your Benefits Now
When applying, you can ask for immediate help if your family has little or no cash and needs emergency housing, food, utilities, clothing, or medical care.
The DPSS office will set up a mandatory face-to-face interview with a CalWORKs Eligibility Worker. During the interview, the CalWORKs Eligibility Worker will:
- Obtain the necessary facts and verify the applicant’s eligibility to the program;
- Advise and explain the rules and responsibilities to the applicants; and
- Have the applicant complete the required application and forms and provide proof of income and property, citizenship status, age, social security number, residence, shelter costs, work or school status and other information for each family member.
*New Applications*: Families who are applying for benefits could schedule an appointment online by accessing the Your Benefits Now website at https://www.dpssbenefits.lacounty.gov/ybn/Index.html. Families can also access some of the CalWORKs rules by clicking on the following links:
In addition, families can click on the Most Commonly Requested Documents link to obtain:
- A list of the required documents needed to apply for the programs and/or services needed; and
- The name and description of some agencies where you are able to get the required documents.
Fingerprinting: All adult family members must be fingerprinted and photo imaged. However, some family members may qualify for an exemption. Ask your Eligibility Worker if you qualify for an exemption. Please note that the fingerprinting and photo imaging information is not shared outside the agency.
OTHER PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
There are many other programs and benefits for which a CalWORKs family may qualify:
- Medical Coverage: In most cases, each member of the family getting CalWORKs will also qualify for Medi-Cal which will pay for most medical costs. The County will explain this benefit to the applicant.
- Welfare-to-Work Program: The Welfare-to-Work Program helps family members acquire the skills needed to get a job. The County will determine if a family must participate in Welfare-to-Work activities as a requirement for CalWORKs. Families may also volunteer to participate.
- Child Care: Families that receive CalWORKs may also be eligible for child care services to help pay for child care costs. The County will explain to the family what services are available.
- CalFresh Program (formerly Food Stamp Program): In most cases, eligible CalWORKs families qualify for CalFresh to help meet their food needs. Often, the CalWORKs application is automatically used by the County to assess the family's eligibility to CalFresh benefits.
- Child Support: If the family includes a child aided by CalWORKs whose parent is not living with the caretaker, the County will automatically notify the local Child Support Agency (LCSA). There are some exceptions to this referral to the LCSA for child support enforcement including families that have reached the 48-month time limit on aid and families that request an exception due to domestic violence. For all other cases, the LCSA will provide all necessary child support services, including establishing paternity, establishing and enforcing a support obligation and collecting support payments. If the child's paternity has not been previously established, the adult caretaker is required to help the local child support agency to do so. This may mean participating in an interview and submitting the child to blood testing if the alleged parent, once contacted, refuses to acknowledge paternity.
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