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Financial Assistance for Families with Children

Published on: 7/1/2019 4:14 PM

California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)

     24-Hr Automated InfoLine: 
  1-877-96-BENEFITS  or 1-877-962-3633

CalWORKs is a program that helps eligible families become self-supporting through temporary cash aid and assistance in finding and keeping a job (CWES). It is California’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program and provides a number of services, including cash aid, child care, and job search guidance. When receiving CalWORKs cash aid, the family also receives Medi-Cal and may be eligible for CalFresh benefits.

Generally, adults can get up to 48 months of cash aid. There are, however, certain circumstances that, if present, enable the adult to be exempted from this time limit. When cash aid stops for the adult family members, money may still be available to help support minor children in the home.

The eligibility information listed below will give you an idea of whether you may be eligible to receive CalWORKs assistance.  However, eligibility for the program can only be fully evaluated by an Eligibility Worker (EW) at one of our Social Services Agency Intake Offices.

Basic Eligibility Requirements
Deprivation – A parent or caretaker relative may be eligible for CalWORKs assistance if he/she cares for an eligible child who is without parental support because one or both parents are either absent from the home, disabled, deceased, or unemployed.
Age – Eligibility requirements that relate to age include the following:
•  Children are eligible until their 18th birthday.  Eighteen-year-olds may continue to be eligible if they are full-time students, regularly attending high school or the equivalent, and expected to graduate before their 19th birthday.
•  Pregnant or parenting teens (under the age of 18) must live with their parent(s) or other appropriate relative in order to receive CalWORKs.
•  Children age 6 and older must regularly attend school. Proof that children under the age of six have had age-appropriate immunizations is also required.
•  Children age 19 or older are NOT eligible for CalWORKs, but may continue to be eligible for other programs, such as CalFresh or Medi-Cal.

Income Limits and Payment Amounts – The following rules are related to income and how it is used when figuring out CalWORKs eligibility and payment amounts:
•  A family’s gross non-exempt income, minus $90.00 for each employed individual, must fall below the amount shown on the Minimum Basic Standard of Adequate Care (MBSAC) Chart below. (The MBSAC Chart, for example, shows that for a family of three, MBSAC is $1,453.00. This means that, in order to qualify for CalWORKs, this family’s gross [before taxes] non-exempt income, minus $90.00 for each employed individual, must be under $1,453.00.)
•  Any money the family currently has available to meet their needs is counted as income.  Income includes but is not limited to: Job earnings, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Disability Benefits, Social Security Benefits, and so on. The net income amount must be less than the amount shown on the Maximum Aid Payable (MAP) Chart for the family size.
The chart below shows income limits as well as the maximum amount of money a family can get each month through CalWORKs. The amounts are set by the State.  Your Eligibility Worker will tell you exactly how much money you will get after figuring out how much money you already have coming in.  To figure out what monthly payments to you will be, the Eligibility Worker will also look at other information such as how much the things you own are worth.

Maximum Aid Payments (MAP) Effective April 1, 2019 and
Minimum Basic Standards for Adequate Care (MBSAC)
Effective July 1, 2019 

Number of Eligible  Family Members in the Same Home Maximum Amount of Aid Payable to the Unemployable Maximum Amount of Aid Payable to the Employable MBSAC (adjusted income must fall below the applicable amount listed)
1 $ 431 $ 391 $ 714
2 710 635 1,172
3 879 785 1,453
4 1,044 937 1,724
5 1,188 1,065 1,967
6 1,335 1,196 2,213
7 1,467 1,315 2,432
8 1,599 1,431 2,646
9 1,728 1,548 2,871
10 1,858 1,662 3,116
Note: Payments are not based on the actual living expenses of the family.  If eligible, the family receives a set amount of money, and it is their responsibility to determine how to meet their household expenses.

Property – A CalWORKs family can own up to $2,250 of real and personal property. Real property includes land, houses, and other buildings. Examples of personal property include checking and savings accounts. If a family has a parent or caretaker 60 years of age or older, the property limit is increased to $3,500.

If you own and live in your home, it is not counted as property.

Citizenship – The applicant and his/her family must be United States citizens or have satisfactory immigration status. The immigration status of all noncitizens is verified with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), formerly Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).  If an immigrant entered this county as a sponsored noncitizen, the income and resources of the sponsor will be considered in determining CalWORKs eligibility.
Employment – Once it is determined that you meet the CalWORKs eligibility requirements, another determination is made based on whether the adults are employable or unemployable.
•  All parents or caretaker relatives must participate in CalWORKs Employment Services activities unless they are exempt.
•  Employment Services participants are assigned to activities meant to lead to a job and eventual self-sufficiency. Necessary supportive services, such as child care and transportation, will be provided.

Child Support – All absent parents are responsible for the financial support of their children. The custodial parent or caretaker relative must provide sufficient information to locate the absent parent(s) to determine the absent parent’s financial responsibility.
•  The absent parent will be contacted by the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) to pay back all or part of the CalWORKs money received.
•  Child support is counted as income and CalWORKs recipients who receive direct child support are required to assign their support rights to the County.

Diversion Program

The Diversion Program is available to potentially eligible CalWORKs applicants to help the family overcome a short-term crisis. It is intended to provide immediate financial assistance that can help individuals keep or start a job and continue to be self-supporting. 

If it is determined by the Eligibility Worker (EW) that a family may be better served by receiving a one-time Diversion Program payment instead of monthly cash payments, the EW will discuss this option with the applicant.

Special Needs
Additional benefits are available to CalWORKs recipients for special diets, pregnancy needs, and Homeless Assistance. The Homeless Assistance payment is a once-in-a-lifetime payment.

Time Limits
CalWORKs parents or caretaker relatives are limited to a total of 48-months of cash assistance. This also applies to any months (from January 1998 on) in which the parent(s) received cash aid from any state. There are, however, certain exemptions to the 48-month lifetime limit which can be explained by your Eligibility Worker. Once the CalWORKs 48-month lifetime limit is reached, unless an exemption is authorized, the adult will no longer be eligible for CalWORKs. However, the children may remain eligible.

Direct Deposit and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)
 CalWORKs benefits are provided to eligible persons using one of the following two methods:
•  Persons eligible for CalWORKs cash benefits have the option to have benefits “directly deposited” into their checking or savings account.
•  If Direct Deposit is NOT selected, cash benefits are received through a plastic Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at automated teller (ATM) and point-of-sale (POS) machines.

Applying for CalWORKs
Click here for a list of Social Services Agency Intake Offices. A decision on whether or not you are eligible for CalWORKs can only be made by a CalWORKs Eligibility Worker.
CalWORKs Application Guidelines

Documents You Will Need to Bring When You Apply

Your Eligibility Worker will tell you what documents you need to provide. The documents will be used to see if you are eligible for CalWORKs, and to figure out what the payments to you and your family will be. The following list contains examples of the kind of documents you may need to give your Eligibility Worker.

  Proof of Deprivation
  • Death Certificate(s)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Award Letter
  • Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB)—Approval or Denial Letter 
  Proof of Age 
  • Birth Certificates
  • Naturalization Certificate 
  • Immigration Card 
  Proof of Residence 
  • Rent receipt 
  Proof of Citizenship, Noncitizen Status, or Immigrant Status 
  • Birth Certificate
  • Alien Registration Card 
  Social Security Number 
  • Social Security Card(s)
  • Proof of Application for Social Security Card (For each person you’re applying for).
  Proof of Immunizations for Children Under the Age of Six
  • Immunization (Shots) Record 
  Proof of Income 
  • Pay stubs
  • Award Letter
  • Papers that show where the money came from 
  Proof of Expenses 
  • Utility bill
  • Rent receipt 
  Proof of Property 
  • Bank statements
  • Car registration
  • Papers that show value of property


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