California CalWORKS (CalWORKS) Application Information
How to Apply for CalWORKS
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CalWORKS (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) is a welfare assistance program that provides benefits to eligible California families. CalWORKS may also be known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The program can provide cash aid, education, employment, and training programs to help California families become self-sufficient. If an applying family has little to no cash and needs assistance with shelter, medical bills, clothes or food they may be able to receive help from CalWORKS immediately. Families may also receive ongoing benefits every month to help with necessary expenses. The level of ongoing benefits will depend on many factors that include the number of eligible people in your family, and whether any of those family members have special needs. There are additional services for those that are pregnant or parent teens through CalLEARN.
Providing quality child care is an integral part of the CalWORKS program. The program has consolidated the former welfare related childcare programs to help a parent transition back to work. Long-term child care is essential for families to successfully leave welfare aid while preserving the family unit.
Unless the CalWORKS recipient is exempt, they are required to participate in the Welfare-to-Work program (WTW) in order to receive aid. Those that are not required to participate in the WTW program may participate on a volunteer basis. This part of the CalWorks program is designed to aid welfare recipients in obtaining gainful employment.
Not everyone will be approved to receive CalWORKS benefits. There are various requirements that must be satisfied in order to qualify for CalWORKS assistance. The CalWORKS applicant must be resident of California, pregnant or responsible for an underage child, a U.S. national, a citizen, a legal alien, or a permanent resident. The applicant must also have low income, and be unemployed, under-employed, or about to become unemployed.
If you begin your application here you will be given detailed information and tips that cover all these requirements. After completing the application an interview is required to obtain facts and verify eligibility. During your interview you can ask for further explanation of the program rules and you will be assisted in the parts of your application that have not yet been completed.
There is a five year time limit for adults to receive benefits, but the children can remain on aid if otherwise eligible
The income of the family is considered in calculating the amount of cash aid the family receives. CalWORKs regulations have an income limit. This income limit is determined by subtracting $90 from the earned income of each employed person. After which all other earned and unearned income is added to determine the gross income for the family.
That amount is then compared to the Minimum Basic Standard of Adequate Care (MBSAC) level for the family size. If this calculation of a family's total gross income exceeds the family size MBSAC level they are not eligible.
Household Resource Limit Requirements
A household can only have a certain level of resources to be eligible for CalWORKS. Something is considered a resource when it can be drawn upon (or sold) to provide financial assistance. The limit for resources for CalWORKS is $2,000 for the household. Households that contain a member that is elderly (over 60) can have resources up to $3,000.
What is allowed?
- One House
- One Car (Value less than or equal to $4,650
Because changes can affect eligibility, recipients of CalWORKS must notify their County's Welfare Department about changes to their circumstances (such as a change to your income).
Every 3 months these households will be required to complete a QR 7 each quarter (each 3 months). A QR 7 form addresses the following.
- The QR 7 form will ask for the household income.
- You MAY report any change that will increase your benefits during the quarter. This may include things like a job loss or an increase in certain expenses.
- Report changes of address.
10 Day Reporting
Some other things must be reported within 10 days of occurrence:
- Household member becomes a fleeing felon
- Household member is convicted of a drug related felony
- Household member violates parole or probation
- Household income exceeds the Income Reporting Threshold (IRT) for the household size
Unless exempt, all CalWORKS recipients are required to participate in Welfar-to-Work (WTW) services in order to maintain eligibility. California's WTW program is designed to help families prepare for and obtain gainful employment. This program is available in, and run locally in all 58 counties.
All participants will receive a program orientation, which includes an evaluation of their education and work background. Most will also receive assistance in searching for a job.
Based on an individual's capabilities they may be assigned to vocational training, unpaid work preparation or an adult education program. Participants who find a job may continue to receive help with their medical and child care expenses.
CalWORKS Application Instructions
If going directly to your county of residence to apply it can take up to 7 days to schedule an interview appointment and up to 45 days to approve or deny your application. You can find your local county benefits office listed here. You can also find your county welfare department listed under the County Government Section in the telephone book.
If the applicant needs expedited services it may be possible to get assistance quicker. If you need assistance quicker you will need to be in one of the following categories:
- If you need to pay for basic needs, have less than $100.00 and it appears that you qualify for CalWORKS the county must provide you with $200.00 and process your application within 15 days
- If you are facing an eviction your application should be processed within three (3) days
- If you need assistance for a special circumstance you may be given a payment so that you do not need to go onto the program. If you end-up on the program that payment will count as one of your months payments.
There are two steps that will need to be completed in order to apply for CalWORKS assistance. This site will help guide you to download the needed forms and we recommend that you fill them out prior to bringing them to your county office. You can find your local county benefits office listed here. You can also find your county welfare department listed under the County Government Section in the telephone book.
To complete the initial step you will need to download and complete the following online form here . If you are having difficulty with accessing these forms you can contact your local County Human Services office.
Step two (2) is the interview to be set up by your county. You can choose between in person or an over-the-phone interview. These interviews typically take an hour.
Please click here for a CalWORKS general program fact sheet.