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What kind of benefit is CalWORKs?

Known federally as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), California’s state version of this program, Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs), supplements the needs of qualifying families and children with monthly cash assistance and provides other supportive or essential services. Because it is temporary, there is both a maximum monthly amount and a lifetime maximum amount of benefits an applicant can receive.

How is eligibility for CalWORKs determined?

Eligibility for CalWORKs generally depends on the applicant’s relationship to the child(ren) in their home. In homes where one or both parents provide support and care, the principal earner’s unemployment status is a major determining factor.

Other program requirements can also include the applicant’s Tribal eligibility or citizenship status and either their age or the age of the child(ren) in their home. The household or child(ren)’s available earned and unearned income, assets, and other resources may also be included in measuring eligibility and benefit payment. 

When a parent’s support or care cannot be provided due to absence, disability, or death, then families who provide that support and care may be eligible for assistance payments for the child(ren). However, this eligibility may be reevaluated based on the biological or legally established relationship of those caregivers to the child(ren). Eligibility standards and benefit rates can differ between counties. 

Kinship children in the care of relative legal guardians who do not qualify for transition into the Kin-GAP program may still be eligible to receive “child-only TANF” CalWORKs benefits. In foster care or kinship households with needy legal guardians, whether they are related or not, those adults can still apply for CalWORKs for themselves. They are also exempt from self-sufficiency activities when that time is necessary for the care of kinship children, instead.

How do I apply for CalWORKs?

CalWORKs operates in all counties of California; your county’s welfare department is in charge of processing applications and answering questions.You can apply online through the state’s e-benefits website or check California’s Department of Social Services list of county offices for your closest location to apply in person.

Dan Beeby

Dan Beeby

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Kinship Care CA