April 2, 2020
The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) released new guidance on Employment Services provisions in the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, through an All County Welfare Directors Letter (ACWDL). The guidance encourages counties to minimize the fiscal impacts on families, during a time of economic uncertainty, while continuing to support them through supportive services.
Federal and state statute and regulations require families enrolled in the CalWORKs program to participate in Welfare-to-Work (WTW) activities designed to promote self-sufficiency through education and job placements. Families who are not exempt from this requirement may receive a financial penalty if they do not comply with the program rules. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect all industries throughout the country, including education, requiring all CalWORKs families to continue to meet the WTW requirements could be particularly devastating to these low income families. To mitigate financial impacts, CDSS has temporarily instructed counties to:
- Issue temporary and blanket good cause for not meeting CalWORKs WTW requirements. This includes good cause or exemptions for initial engagement activities, such as, the WTW Orientation, the Online CalWORKs Appraisal Tool (OCAT), and Family Stabilization.
- Cure sanctions for individuals who failed to participate in an activity that is no longer available, appropriate or required, including due to good cause. County Welfare Departments (CWDs) are encouraged to complete prepopulated Cure Sanction Plans for participants to sign without the participant requesting one.
- Avoid imposing sanctions on individuals who are currently in noncompliance status.
- Update their Expanded Subsidized Employment (ESE) plans if they continue to subsidize wages through the ESE program, even if the worksites are closed due to COVID-19.
- Utilize county discretion regarding documentation and verification practices in order to continue providing WTW supportive services.
The temporary instructions from CDSS in this ACWDL will expire on June 30, 2020.