Frequently Asked Questions About CDSS Programs


  • How do I apply for public assistance benefits?

    Applications for all public assistance programs, including California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), Refugee Cash Assistance, Food Stamps, Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services, Adoptions, Foster Care, Employment Programs, and General Assistance/General Relief are processed by the local county welfare department. Check the County Government section of your telephone directory for the location of the office in your county.

  • How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

    At the Social Security Administration. Check the United States Government section of your telephone directory for the location of the office in your community, or call (800) 772-1213.

  • How do I apply for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program benefits?

    At the Social Security Administration. Check the United States Government section of your telephone directory for the location of the office in your community, or call (800) 772-1213.

  • How do I apply for Medicare benefits?

    At the Social Security Administration. Check the United States Government section of your telephone directory for the location of the office in your community, or call (800) 772-1213.


  • What is the CalWORKs Program?

    CalWORKs gives cash aid and services to families with an eligible needy child(ren) who is deprived because of the absence, disability, or death of a parent or unemployment of the principal earner when both parents are in the home. Needy caretaker relatives of a child receiving either Foster Care or Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program benefits may also be eligible for cash aid.

    CalWORKs has a cumulative 60-month time limit on receipt of cash aid and requires recipients to meet strict work participation requirements. Families receiving cash aid are required to obtain immunizations for all pre-school children and all school-age children are required to attend school regularly. After five years on aid, a safety net will provide aid to the children only.

  • What must you do to get cash aid?

    You must give the county facts and proof to show you are eligible for CalWORKs. Your facts are computer matched with facts from tax, welfare, employment, the Social Security Administration, and other agency records. Differences in facts may be checked out with employers, banks, and others.

    You must cooperate with the county, state and federal staff. A county worker can come to your home at any time to check out your facts, including seeing each family member, without calling ahead of time. You may not get benefits or your benefits may be stopped if you do not cooperate.

  • How much cash aid do you get?

    The maximum aid payment you can get depends on your eligible family size, income and the region you live in.

  • How long will it take to get the first CalWORKs check?

    If you are eligible for cash aid and provide all the facts asked for, your check should be mailed to you within 45 days from the date you applied.

  • What is the property limit in the CalWORKs Program?

    For applicants and recipients, there is a $3,000 property limit if the assistance unit has at least one member who is 60 years of age or older, and $2,000 for all other assistance units, with one vehicle being excluded if not over the vehicle exclusion limit of $4,650.

    Also, recipients can save up to $5,000 in restricted accounts to buy a home, start a business, or pay for college or vocational training for any member of the assistance unit.

Child Care

  • If I am on CalWORKs cash assistance, when am I eligible for child care benefits?

    If you are receiving CalWORKs cash assistance and are in one of the following situations, you could be eligible for child care benefits:

    1. You are attending a county welfare department-approved education or training program;
    2. You are working and need child care;
    3. You are a teen participating in Cal-Learn; or
    4. You choose to refuse a cash aid payment and need child care.

  • Would I be eligible for child care benefits if I transitioned off cash assistance?

    Child care benefits may be provided to permit a parent or adult in a formerly-aided family to accept, continue or retain employment for up to two years after the family exits the CalWORKs Program.

  • Who can I call for more information about child care for families at risk of going on cash assistance, or for families transitioning out of CalWORKs?

    You can call the CalWORKs Child Care Program information toll-free telephone number at 1-800-998-9114.

  • How can I find out about subsidized child care programs?

    If you are on CalWORKs cash assistance, you can contact your eligibility worker at the county welfare department. If you are not in the CalWORKs Program, you can contact your local Resource and Referral Agency to obtain this information.

  • What is Trustline?

    Trustline is a registry for license-exempt child care providers that may include nannies and babysitters. It provides a unique and useful service to those who wish to have their children cared for in their own homes or in the home of the provider and who wish to check the potential caregiver's criminal and child abuse record histories. Trustline checks, through the Department of Justice, the California Criminal History file and the Child Abuse Central Index, to see if a license-exempt child care provider has a record of criminal convictions or substantiated reports of child abuse. Applicants for Trustline have been denied registry for some of the following reasons: murder, assault, neglect, sexual and physical abuse, etc.

Food Stamps

  • What is the Food Stamp Program?

    The Food Stamp Program is a nutrition assistance program in which eligible low-income households purchase food with the use of coupons that can be used like cash at participating grocery stores.

  • What agency is responsible for the Food Stamp Program?

    At the Federal level, the program is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Consumer Service (FCS). FCS pays for 100% of the coupons that are issued and half of the State administrative costs to operate the program. FCS also issues the rules that states follow in administering the program at the state level. Each State is responsible for its own program. In California, the Food Stamp Program is supervised at the state level by the California Department of Social Services and is administered at the local level by each county welfare department.

  • How many people receive food stamps in California?

    For the period July, 1996 through June, 1997, a monthly average of 2,930,071 persons received food stamps. The total value of the food stamps issued in this same period totaled approximately $2.5 billion.

  • Where do you apply for food stamps?

    In California, you must apply at the local county welfare department office in the county in which you reside.

  • Can someone contact the county welfare department by phone and be told if they are eligible for food stamps?

    No. It is not possible for the county welfare department to accurately determine eligibility without having a potential recipient complete an application. In this way, all of the eligibility factors can be correctly considered and a potential recipient is not inadvertently misinformed about their eligibility.

  • How many food stamps can you receive?

    This depends on the size of the household. The maximum allotment for one person is $122 per month. The maximum allotment for a four-person family is $408 per month. In California the average amount of benefits per person is approximately $70 per month. The average amount of benefits per household is approximately $189 per month.

  • How much money can you have and still get food stamps?

    Households may have no more than $2,000 in countable resources (e.g., bank account); households with at least one person age 60 or older can have $3,000 in countable resources. A household's gross monthly income cannot exceed 130 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines. For a household of three, this standard totals $1,445. A household's net monthly income cannot exceed 100 percent of the Federal poverty guidelines. For a household of three, this standard totals $1,111.

  • What foods can you purchase with food stamps?

    Food stamps can be used to buy any food or food product that is produced for human consumption except hot foods or lunch counter items prepared or heated in the store; alcoholic beverages and tobacco; vitamins or medicines; or pet food. Seeds and plants for use in home gardens to produce food can also be purchased with food stamps. Food stamps cannot be used to buy nonfood items.

  • Can single people living alone receive food stamps?

    Yes. Being married and/or having children is not a requirement.

  • Can you receive aid from other programs and still receive food stamps?

    Yes. In California, 64 percent of the Food Stamp households also receive cash aid from other public assistance programs.* There is a restriction that a household cannot participate simultaneously in the Food Stamp Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. Also, in California, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) Program recipients do not qualify for food stamps.

  • Can a homeless person receive food stamps?

    Yes. A person must reside in the county in which an application is filed. Residence in a permanent dwelling or a fixed mailing address is not required.

    * Source DFA 256 as of 11-97


  • What is Welfare-to-Work?

    The intent of the Welfare-to-Work Program is to assist individuals who are receiving assistance through the CalWORKs Program to transition as rapidly as possible from dependency on public assistance into unsubsidized employment and self-sufficiency. Under the CalWORKs Program, adult recipients of aid, unless exempted, are required to meet work requirements by participating in welfare-to-work activities, in order to maintain their portion of the assistance unit's grant. Supportive services are provided to help individuals participate in their required program activities or accept work.

    Within the 60-month time limit, applicants will be eligible for 18 cumulative months and current recipients will be eligible for 24 cumulative months of aid. Aid can continue after the 18-and 24-month cumulative time limits, if the county certifies that there is no job currently available and the recipient participates in community service. Counties may also extend the 18-month time limit for up to 6 months if the extension is likely to result in unsubsidized employment or employment is not available in the local labor market.

  • What type of educational, employment and training services are offered through Welfare- to-Work?

    Job search services - includes supervised job search, unsupervised job search, job placement, job development, job club, and employment counseling. In these activities, Welfare-to-Work participants learn how to prepare job applications and resumes, interview properly and find job openings.

    Subsidized employment - includes on-the-job training, transitional employment, or supported work, in which Welfare-to-Work participants are placed into public or private sector jobs where they receive training, supervision and counseling to learn job duties and good work habits. All or part of the recipient's CalWORKs cash aid is used to help pay for the wages that the participant receives.

    Vocational training - includes specific job skills that are in demand in the county - welding, cosmetology, food service, etc.

    Self-initiated placement (in certain situations) - If a CalWORKs recipient/applicant is already enrolled in an undergraduate degree or certificate training program that leads to employment before being required to participate in Welfare-to-Work, he/she may be allowed to remain in that program as his/her self-initiated placement, subject to the following conditions:

    1. The program is scheduled to be completed within 18 or 24 months.
    2. The participant is making satisfactory progress in the program;
    3. A determination is made that the education or training program will likely lead to self-supporting employment; and
    4. The participant does not already possess a baccalaureate degree unless he/she is pursuing a California regular classroom teaching credential.

    Adult basic education - includes any of the following educational services that are necessary for the participant to obtain employment:

    1. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and high school proficiency or General Education Development (GED) certificate instruction; or
    2. English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) instruction.

    Work Experience - A nonpaid welfare-to-work activity that helps provide basic job skills, enhances existing job skills in a position related to the participant's experience, or provides a needed community service that will lead to unsubsidized employment. Participants may be assigned to obtain work experience in public agencies as well as private sector businesses. Wages are not paid to work-experience participants, but they do continue to receive CalWORKs benefits.

  • What type of supportive services does Welfare-to-Work offer?

    Because Welfare-to-Work staff understand that participants may need more than just training and job counseling to be successful in the Welfare-to-Work Program, each county will help arrange and/or pay for child care, transportation, work-related or training-related expenses, and certain personal counseling related to problems that affect the outcome of the individual's participation in welfare-to-work activities. In some counties, Welfare-to-Work participants may also receive case management services and supportive services for up to 12 months after they become employed, regardless of whether the employment results in ineligibility for aid.

  • Who must participate?

    Every adult CalWORKs recipient who is not exempt is required to participate in Welfare-to-Work.

  • Who doesn't have to participate?

    Certain persons do not have to participate in Welfare-to-Work because of special individual and/or family circumstances. Persons are "exempt" from Welfare-to-Work participation if they are:

    1. Under 16 years old or 60 years old or older;
    2. Sixteen (16) or 17 years old and go to school (not college) full-time, unless enrolled in school as part of the Welfare-to-Work Program;
    3. Physically or mentally unable to work or participate in a welfare-to-work activity on a regular basis for at least 30 calendar days.
    4. The nonparent relative caretaker of a child who is a dependent or ward of the court, or a child at risk of being placed in foster care.
    5. Staying at home to take care of individual(s) in the household who can't take care of themselves if that keeps the recipient from working or participating in a welfare-to-work activity on a regular basis.
    6. The parent or caretaker relative of a child six months old or under (or, depending on the county, for a child 12 weeks old or under or for a child 12 months old or younger). This exemption may be applied only one time under the CalWORKs Program. A subsequent exemption for the birth of another child or adoption of another child six months old or younger will be granted for a period of 12 weeks (or , depending on the county, for a period up to six months). In addition, this exemption does not apply to individuals who are required to participate in the Cal-Learn Program.
    7. Pregnant and the individual provides medical verification that she is unable to work or participate in a welfare-to-work activity on a regular basis for at least 30 calendar days.

  • Where do I call for more information on Welfare-to-Work?

    Persons who wish to obtain more information on Welfare-to-Work should contact their county welfare department.


  • What is Cal-Learn?

    Cal-Learn is a program designed for pregnant and parenting teens receiving CalWORKs benefits to help them stay in or return to school and obtain a high school diploma or equivalent degree. Each teen in Cal-Learn is assigned a case manager to help them identify issues and problems they may face and help them obtain services if necessary. Teens in the program are eligible for bonuses or sanctions (financial incentives or disincentives) based on report card grades. Cal-Learn also helps with child care, transportation expenses and certain educational expenses.

  • Who is eligible for Cal-Learn?

    Pregnant and parenting teens under the age of 19 are eligible for Cal-Learn if they are receiving CalWORKs benefits and do not have their high school diploma or its equivalent. As of January 1, 1998, Cal-Learn participants will be able, on a voluntary basis, to continue Cal-Learn participation through the age of 19, as long as they have not yet graduated from high school or its equivalent. To be eligible to continue in the Cal-Learn Program, the 19-year-old teen parent must be participating, full time, in a program leading toward a high school diploma or its equivalent.

  • What does the case manager do?

    It is the responsibility of the Cal-Learn case manager to assess the health, education, and social service needs of the teen parent and assist the Cal-Learn teens and their families in obtaining needed services. The case manager works with the teen parent in identifying needs and problems and in finding ways to meet those needs.

  • When does Cal-Learn pay for child care and transportation?

    Cal-Learn will pay for child care and transportation for the teen parent to attend case management meetings, orientation and school. All supportive services that are necessary to enable the teen parent to attend school regularly will be reimbursed.

  • What kinds of educational expenses does Cal-Learn pay for?

    Cal-Learn pays for necessary educational expenses for the teen to attend school. For example, Cal-Learn pays for lab fees, books and costs to take the General Education Development (GED) test.

  • How do you earn a bonus if you are in the Cal-Learn Program?

    Teen parents in Cal-Learn must turn in their report cards to their case manager and can earn up to four $100 bonuses or sanctions per year based on how they do in school. Report cards reflecting satisfactory progress ("C" average or better) earn a $100 bonus. Report cards reflecting less than adequate progress (less than a "D" average) receive a $100 sanction. A $500 bonus is awarded if the teen graduates while participating in Cal-Learn.

  • What happens when you are in Cal-Learn and graduate from high school?

    If you earn your high school diploma or equivalent while you are participating in the Cal-Learn Program, you will receive a $500 graduation bonus. You will no longer be eligible for Cal-Learn once you graduate; however, you will be expected to participate in Welfare-to-Work activities and will be eligible for GAIN supportive services based on your assigned activity.

  • Is Cal-Learn being evaluated?

    Yes. The Cal-Learn Program, part of the California Work Pays Demonstration Project, is being evaluated to see how effective the application of bonuses and sanctions, and the provision of case management are in assisting and encouraging teen parents to attend school and graduate.

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

  • How do I apply for IHSS?

    To apply for IHSS contact your local county welfare or social services agency in your area.

  • How does the IHSS Program work?

    A county social worker will interview you at your home to determine your eligibility and need for IHSS. Based on your ability to safely perform certain tasks for yourself, the social worker will assess the types of services you need and the amount of time which the county will authorize for each of these services. This assessment will include information given by you and, if appropriate, by your family, friends, physician or other health practitioner.

    You will be notified if IHSS benefits have been approved or denied. If denied, you will be notified of the reason for the denial. If approved, you will be notified of the services and the number of hours per month which have been authorized for you. If you are approved for IHSS, you must hire someone (your individual provider) to perform the authorized services. You are considered your provider's employer and, therefore, it is your responsibility to hire, train, supervise and fire this individual.

    If your county has contracted IHSS providers you may choose to have services provided by the contractor. If your county has homemaker employees you may receive services from a county homemaker.

  • Who is eligible for IHSS?

    A person must be disabled, age 65 or older or blind and unable to live safely at home without help or financially unable to purchase needed services.

  • What are other eligibility criteria for IHSS?

    • You must be a citizen of the United States or a qualified alien. You must also be a California resident.

    • You must live at home or an abode of your own choosing (acute care hospital, long-term care facilities, and licensed community care facilities are not considered "own home").

    • Your personal property may not exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.

    • Personal property that is considered in determining your resources includes cash on hand, checking and savings accounts, the value of stocks, bonds, trust deeds, real property (other than the home you own and live in), automobile and recreational vehicles, promissory notes and loans.

    • Personal property that is not considered in determining your resources includes the home you own and in which you live, one automobile needed for transportation to medical appointments or work, and all life insurance policies if the combined face value is $1,500 or less.

    • If you do not receive SSI/SSP Program benefits, your income will be used to determine your eligibility for IHSS. Depending on the amount of your income, you may be required to pay for a portion of your IHSS benefits (Share of Cost).

  • What services are available?

    IHSS provides a wide range of services, which may include housecleaning, shopping, cooking, laundry and personal care.

  • Are medical services provided to IHSS recipients?

    IHSS recipients are automatically eligible for Medi-Cal for their medical/health care. For most people who qualify for IHSS, the benefits are paid under the Personal Care Services Program (PCSP) which is part of Medi-Cal. The State of California may have the right to recover from your estate, if any, the cost of all Medi-Cal benefits received after age 55.

  • How are IHSS payments made?

    The current IHSS hourly rate set by State law is $5.75 per hour. The State issues all checks for individual provider payments. If the provider qualifies, the State withholds the applicable amounts for disability insurance and Social Security taxes.

    You and your provider must complete, sign, and submit time sheets verifying the delivery of authorized services for the month. If you receive services under the PCSP, you and your provider must complete the PCSP Provider/Enrollment Agreement form. Your provider will not be paid until this form is submitted to the IHSS social worker.

Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP) Program

  • What is the SSI/SSP Program?

    The SSI/SSP Program is a federal/state-funded public assistance program for aged, blind or disabled persons who have little or no income and resources.

  • How does the SSI/SSP Program work?

    If you apply for benefits due to disability or blindness and you have no medical source that will furnish your medical records, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send you to a doctor for a specific test or exam. SSA then reviews your medical information, verifies other aspects of your application (income, resources, etc.) and makes a decision on whether you qualify for benefits. In some cases, the disability determination process may take many months. If you are determined to be disabled, you will be paid for the months you were disabled while the determination process took place. After that, you will receive a benefit check each month for as long as you qualify. SSA will periodically reverify your eligibility.

    If you apply due to your age, SSA verifies your age and other aspects of your application (income, resources, etc.) and makes a decision on whether you qualify for benefits. If you qualify, you will receive a monthly check from SSA for as long as you continue to qualify. SSA will periodically reverify your eligibility.

    If SSA determines that you do not qualify to receive SSI/SSP Program benefits, you will be given information on appealing that decision.

  • What are the income limits?

    Your monthly income, after certain amounts are disregarded by SSA, cannot be greater than the maximum monthly SSI/SSP benefit amount. Income is anything you receive in cash or in-kind which can be used or sold to meet your needs for food, clothing and shelter. As noted above, some income is not counted in determining eligibility. An SSA claims representative will review your application and verify your income to determine if you meet the program's income limits.

  • What are the resource limits?

    The resources you own cannot be greater than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. Resources are cash or other property (real or personal) which you can convert to cash for your support. Some examples are stocks, bonds, mutual funds, mortgages, bank accounts, household goods, boats and vehicles, or land.

    Some resources are not counted in determining your eligibility, such as your principal place of residence (regardless of value), your car (if it is used to provide necessary transportation or if it does not exceed a certain value), and household goods and personal effects of reasonable value.

  • Are medical services provided to SSI/SSP Program recipients?

    Yes. If you are eligible for SSI/SSP Program benefits, you automatically receive benefits under the Medi-Cal Program.

  • What is the definition of "blindness"?

    Under SSI/SSP Program rules blindness means that you are statutorily blind. Statutorily blind means you have central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in your best eye with the use of corrective lens. This definition also applies to children. Your doctor can tell you if you are statutorily blind. In order to meet eligibility based on blindness, you may submit proof from a doctor or other medical person accepted by SSA, or SSA can request the proof from your doctor with your permission. SSA then reviews this information to determine if you qualify.

  • What is the definition of "disabled"?

    SSI/SSP Program rules define disabled to mean that you are unable to do any substantial gainful activity because of a mental or physical impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or result in death. Substantial gainful activity generally means work with wages in excess of $500 per month.

    For children under age 18, disabled means there is medical evidence of a severe physical or mental impairment which limits the child's ability to function and the impairment is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.

    In order to meet eligibility based on a disability, you must submit proof from a doctor or other medical person accepted by the SSA, or SSA can request the proof from your doctor with your permission. SSA then reviews this information to determine if you qualify.

  • What happens to SSI/SSP recipients who become residents of public institutions, such as State hospitals, jails, prisons, veterans hospitals, or any other place operated or controlled by the Federal, State or local government?

    Individuals incarcerated or hospitalized in State or veterans hospitals are not eligible to receive SSI/SSP Program benefits because their needs are met by the public institutions.

  • Which noncitizens qualify?

    A noncitizen qualifies if he/she is lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States (U.S.) and:

    1. Is a refugee, asylee, Cuban/Haitian entrant or Amerasian immigrant in his/her first 7 years of U.S. residency; or

    2. Is an active duty member of or an honorably-discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, or is the spouse or unmarried dependent child of such a person; or

    3. Has worked and earned 40 quarters of credit under Social Security. Work credits earned by a spouse, or by a parent while the noncitizen was under 18, may also count toward the 40 quarters of Social Security credits; or

    4. Was already receiving SSI/SSP Program benefits when the eligibility law was changed on August 22, 1996; or
    5. Is a noncitizen member of specified Indian tribes, or native American who comes under Section 289 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act; or

    6. Was residing in the United States as of August 22, 1996, and is determined disabled (including blind), regardless of the onset date of the disability; or

    7. Is an SSI/SSP recipient who filed his/her application before January 1, 1979, and the SSA has no clear and convincing evidence that he or she does not meet the current eligibility standards.

Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) Program

  • Why do I have to see one of your doctors when my doctor has already certified me disabled?

    The SSA requires us to document your disability based on medical evidence. This evidence, consisting of specific signs, symptoms, tests and x-ray findings can normally be obtained from your doctor, hospital, psychologist or other treating source. If you have no treating source, or have not been treated recently, or if there are gaps or conflicts in the medical evidence, we may ask you to see one of our consultative doctors. Sometimes we may need special tests performed that your doctor does not have. Or, your condition may require the attention of a doctor who specializes in health problems such as yours. At no time will you be charged for a consultative examination. We will gladly share the report with your doctor if you wish us to do so.

  • My doctor says I cannot work. How can SSA find that I can work, and besides, who is going to hire me?

    Disability for SSA benefits or SSI/SSP Program benefits cannot be based solely on your doctor's opinions. We must have the objective medical evidence that your doctor used to reach an opinion. This information is joined with other medical information and information about your ability to function and work gathered from your other sources. At the point we have a clear "picture" of your current impairments, we compare this picture with very strict standards Congress and the SSA have set up in regulations. If the impact of your impairments does not meet the severity levels required, you will not be granted benefits. Even if your impairment may prevent you from working at your previous job, you may be capable of doing other work.

Individual and Family Grant Program

  • If a disaster victim has registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), must he/she apply separately for an Individual and Family Grant Program (IFGP) grant?

    No. Registering with FEMA over the telephone enables an applicant to be referred to all appropriate disaster assistance agencies. However, to be eligible for IFGP assistance, applicants must accept all assistance offered from other sources.

  • If an applicant is offered, but feels he cannot afford a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, can he/she instead apply for an IFGP grant?

    No. Assistance must be accepted from all other sources prior to receiving a grant. The SBA determines if an applicant has the ability to repay a loan. If the SBA determines an applicant is unable to repay a loan, their application may automatically be forwarded to the IFGP.

  • What categories of assistance does the IFGP cover?

    The IFGP determines grant eligibility for medical/dental expenses, housing repairs, personal property losses, transportation, funeral, moving and storage expenses.

  • Will the IFGP cover all of my losses in these categories?

    No. The IFGP only covers basic necessities and essential services within each category. Assistance is based on medium grade items, materials, equipment and services.

  • How does the IFGP determine the amount of the grant?

    Real and personal property awards are based on a FEMA Inspection Report and Federally-approved IFGP guidelines. Other categories require supporting documentation from the applicant verifying disaster relatedness and the dollar amount of the loss or expense. However, the IFGP does not restore applicants to their pre-disaster status and does not cover real property upgrades, luxury, nonessential, or decorative items. The IFGP has preestablished maximum awards for grant assistance.

  • How long will it take to receive my IFGP grant money?

    Each case is processed as expeditiously as possible. Once an award letter is issued, a check for the amount of the grant will be issued within twenty days.

  • Do I have to pay the money back?

    No. The funds do not have to be repaid unless the monies were not spent according to the IFGP guidelines or it is determined that the assistance was or could have been duplicated from another source.

  • What is the average IFGP grant award?

    Grant amounts are established annually by the FEMA. The majority of IFGP grants are between $200 and $2,000. Grants are only given for serious needs and necessary expenses as a direct result of the disaster.

  • Can an IFGP applicant appeal a grant determination?

    Yes. All applicants have the right to appeal a determination made by the IFGP. An appeal process notice is provided to all IFGP applicants describing the appeal process. An appeal must be submitted in writing no later than 60 days from the date on the appeal process notice.

Emergency Food Assistance Program

  • If a person or family needs food, how can they obtain it?

    If they meet the Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) eligibility requirements and need food to prepare meals at home, they can contact the local EFAP agency by phone or by email at the CDSS Authorized Food Distributing Agencies web page . Look for the agency's listing in the business section of the local telephone directory. Most of these organizations are also listed in the "Social Service Organization" section of telephone directory advertising. Congregate Feeding Agencies (CFA) for homeless individuals are also listed in this section.

    Please note that people seeking meals at CFA's are expected to eat them in the CFA's dining room. Similarly, if someone receives EFAP food for household use, it must be used to prepare meals at home. It may not be sold, traded or bartered.

  • What types of food products are available?

    The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a variety of wholesome, nutritious food items, including canned fruits, vegetables, juices, beans, meats and packaged grains. Specific items vary from one year to the next, but generally include food such as peanut butter, kernel corn, green beans, macaroni, spaghetti and rice. The CDSS supplements these USDA food products with fresh and packaged items donated by California food growers, packers and resellers. Specific items vary depending upon the season, harvest and market conditions. Likely donations include gourmet lettuce mixes and baked goods. Most items are packed in family-sized packages, such as 16 to 48 ounce cans and 1- to 2- pound packages.

  • Why isn't there any cheese on the available food products list?

    California has not received dairy products from the USDA in many years. The EFAP was originally intended to help USDA maintain its product price support programs by distributing surplus food items to the needy. Cheese was a commodity that the USDA provided in the past when significant dairy surpluses threatened to ruin the market. To keep dairy prices stable, the USDA obtained the excess dairy production and turned it into items like nonfat dry milk, cheese and butter. Since there is no longer a dairy surplus, the EFAP rarely receives any dairy items and has not received any in years.

  • How much food is available?

    The EFAP was originally designed as a supplementary food program intended to augment the purchased food items of households. Historically, the EFAP has received surplus food resulting from over-production in addition to purchased food designed to round out the USDA's overall offering of products. As a result, the amount of food that California has received has varied depending upon what surplus products have been available.

    For example, in 1984, California received 1 billion pounds of USDA food. Currently, now that surpluses have dried up, the State receives only 16 million pounds annually.

  • Does every person receive the same types and amounts of food?

    California never receives enough of any one product at any one time to distribute it to every household or CFA in the state. Instead, the CDSS makes every effort to distribute what it does receive so that each authorized EFAP agency gets its fair share. This often means that one household, or CFA, gets corn while another gets green beans. Also, larger households and recipient agencies may receive more of one item than smaller households.

  • How can an emergency feeding organization become a CDSS-authorized EFAP food distribution agency?

    The first step an agency must take is to get its County Board of Supervisors to formally designate it as the county's EFAP food distributing agency. The Board must pass a resolution, a copy of which must be provided to CDSS. As long as the agency meets all Federal and State eligibility requirements, the CDSS will adopt it as an authorized EFAP food distributing agency. Currently, 51 counties have designated EFAP food distributing agencies. Usually, a county designates only one agency to be authorized. However, three County Boards of Supervisors (Orange, Los Angeles and Sacramento) have designated two agencies in each county. Also, some counties have developed cooperative agreements to provide services to other counties. For example, the Butte County agency also serves Colusa, Glenn, Plumas and others.

  • If an emergency feeding agency is not the county's authorized EFAP agency, can it still get EFAP food for its recipients and recipient agencies?

    Generally, any agency that is a nonprofit organization or government agency may be eligible if it has a primary purpose to provide food to low-income households or to serve congregate meals to the homeless. The agency must apply to the authorized EFAP food distributing agency in the county where the agency is located. Any emergency feeding agencies, such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, women's shelters, food pantries and food closets, which are not already receiving EFAP food through the authorized EFAP agency in their county, should contact that agency to apply.

  • What are the record-keeping requirements for an authorized EFAP agency?
    There are various reports and reporting forms that must be maintained which include:

    1. perpetual inventory records documenting incoming and outgoing commodities;
    2. distribution records accounting for food given to households and recipient agencies, including food closets, pantries, CFA's, etc.;
    3. activity reports including summary information about the numbers of households and persons served.
    In addition, authorized EFAP food distributing agencies must maintain records of agreements with subdistribution agencies, expenses and other program-related data.

  • Are food distribution agencies reimbursed for their expenses for operating the EFAP?

    CDSS-authorized food distributing agencies, which provide county-wide EFAP services to recipients and recipient agencies, receive reimbursement to help offset some of the costs of operating the program. This reimbursement is paid from EFAP Federal funds totaling about $5.8 million annually. This amount is less than authorized EFAP agencies spend to operate the program. As a result, subdistribution agencies, such as food closets, pantries and CFA's receive no reimbursement.

  • Who decides which agencies will receive this food?

    On a county-by-county basis, the CDSS distributes food among the agencies (designated by the County Boards of Supervisors) that are authorized to distribute EFAP food. This distribution is done on the basis of a "fair share" formula that takes into account factors such as the number of people being served in each county as well as the number living in poverty and unemployed. This method ensures that, regardless of where needy people reside, they will have equal access to EFAP food in their local communities. It is then up to the authorized EFAP agencies in the counties to redistribute the food among local emergency feeding organizations such as CFA's and food pantries.

  • Does the State of California fund the EFAP Program?

    No. This program is funded entirely with Federal funding. No State money is provided to support these services or purchase additional food.

  • What protections does the Department provide to ensure that authorized EFAP agencies properly handle and distribute USDA and donated food?

    Reports are submitted and maintained by each authorized EFAP agency that show where and how much food has been distributed. These reports are closely monitored by Department staff. In addition, State staff perform periodic on-site reviews of food distribution agencies to ensure that EFAP rules are followed and that food is received, stored, handled, distributed and accounted for properly. This way the Department ensures that food gets to the persons for whom it is intended.

[What's New] [Getting Services] [Getting Information] [HOME]