The Social Services Agency-Welfare Department administers programs providing cash, medical, and food assistance; assessment and protection for children and adults; in-home supportive services for adults and center-based and home-delivered meals for seniors; and employment programs which provide education, training, and job placement on behalf of federal, state, and local government. The specific responsibilities of the Social Services Agency will vary by county. The Agency is administered by a director, who is appointed by the County Administrative Officer or the Board of Supervisors, and a variety of management and specially trained support staff.
Recently enacted legislation at the federal level, HR 3734 “The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996,” dramatically changes the way welfare services will be delivered nationally and in the state. Over the next few months, the state administration, Legislature and counties will be redesigning the welfare system to focus more on welfare-to-work programs instead of delivering a cash grant. The new program entitled “Transitional Assistance for Needy Families” replaces the former entitlement program, “Aid to Families with Dependent Children.” Until new legislation is passed, the former program will remain in place.
The Social Services Agency-Welfare Department’s programs are organized in six major divisions (the types of programs and organization can vary by county):
Income Maintenance — Through a network of offices, provide access to benefits from the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children), Food Stamps, Medi-Cal, and county-funded General Assistance programs.
Family and Children’s Services — Respond to allegations of abuse or neglect of children. Protect children and preserve families when possible; shelter children in the children’s shelter or in foster and group homes when it is not safe for them to remain with their families; and create new families through adoption.
Aging and Adult Services — Respond to allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of elderly and dependent adults. Coordinate the delivery of in-home domestic services. Administer a senior nutrition program to provide congregate site and home-delivered meals. Help military veterans and their relatives obtain veterans’ benefits.
Employment and Training — Operate three job training programs which help disadvantaged people achieve their educational and vocational goals: Greater Avenues to Independence (GAIN) for AFDC recipients; Job Training Partnership Act (TPA) for laid-off workers, disadvantaged adults, youth, and elders; and Targeted Assistance Program (JTAP) for refugees.
Public Administrator-Public Guardian — Administer personal/financial management for people who cannot care for themselves because of serious physical or mental incapacity. Protect clients’ assets from exploitation and administer estates of people who die without leaving a will. (See full description of Public Administrator-Public Guardian in this section.)
Financial Management and Administration — Develop and monitor the agency’s budget and administer all fiscal activities and support functions of the agency.