California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
CalWORKs is a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to eligible needy California families. The program serves all 58 counties in the state and is operated locally by county welfare departments. If a family has little or no cash and needs housing, food, utilities, clothing or medical care, they may be eligible to receive immediate short-term help. Families that apply and qualify for ongoing assistance receive money each month to help pay for housing, food and other necessary expenses.
The amount of a family's monthly assistance payment depends on a number of factors, including the number of people who are eligible and the special needs of any of those family members. The income of the family is considered in calculating the amount of cash aid the family receives.
There are other programs and benefits for which a family may qualify by being on CalWORKs. See Other Programs and Services for a listing of these services.
Specific eligibility requirements take into account an applicant's citizenship, age, income, resources, assets and other factors. Generally, services are available to:
- Families that have a child(ren) in the home who has been deprived of parental support or care because of the absence, disability or death of either parent.
- Families with a child(ren) when both parents are in the home but the principal earner is unemployed.
- Needy caretaker relatives of a foster child(ren).
Where To Get Help
There are welfare offices located in each of the 58 California counties. Needy families may apply for CalWORKs at any office located in the county where they live. The county welfare department is listed under the County Government Section of the telephone book.
Families requesting assistance must complete application forms. The family can ask for immediate help if it has little or no cash and needs emergency housing, food, utilities, clothing or medical care.
Next, the welfare office will set up an interview with one of its workers to obtain facts and verify eligibility. Applicants must provide the County with proof of income and property, citizenship status, age, social security number, residence, shelter costs, work or school status and other information. Similar information may be requested for all of the people in the home. Additionally, adult family members must also be fingerprinted and photo imaged.
At the interview, the County will advise applicants of the rules that must be met to be eligible for CalWORKs. If the County determines that the applicants are eligible for CalWORKs, the family will receive monthly checks from the county welfare department until determined ineligible.
Other Programs and Services
There are many other programs and benefits for which an CalWORKs family may qualify:
- CalFresh Program (formerly Food Stamp Program): In most cases, eligible CalWORKs families qualify for food stamps to help meet their food needs. Often, the CalWORKs application is automatically used by the County to assess the family's food stamp eligibility.
- 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.
- 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). 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 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.
- 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.
- Family Planning: Any member of the family can get information about methods for planning family size, deciding when to have children and preventing unwanted pregnancies. The County will provide information if a family asks for it.
- Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP): Regular, preventative medical check-ups are available to help protect those members of the CalWORKs family who are under the age of 21. The County will provide the family with information about this benefit.
- Social Services: If the family needs help with a family problem, such as drug abuse or legal problems, a social worker is available to help. The family may request that the County provide a telephone number that can be called 24 hours a day.
- Child Care : Families that receive CalWORKs may also be eligible for child care services, such as help paying child care costs. The County will explain to the family what services are available.