BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                                        
                                  SENATE HUMAN
                               SERVICES COMMITTEE
                          Senator Leland Y. Yee, Chair


          BILL NO:       AB 309                                       
          A
          AUTHOR:        Mitchell                                     
          B
          VERSION:       March 19, 2013
          HEARING DATE:  June 11, 2013                                
          3
          FISCAL:        Yes                                          
          0
                                                                      
          9
          CONSULTANT:    Tepring Piquado
                                        

                                     SUBJECT
                                         
                            CalFresh: homeless youth

                                     SUMMARY  

          This bill clarifies that there is no minimum age  
          requirement for CalFresh eligibility and requires  
          information and training about CalFresh that is developed  
          for the homeless include information about unaccompanied  
          homeless children, as specified. Requires county welfare  
          departments, upon receipt of a signed CalFresh application  
          from an unaccompanied minor, to determine eligibility of  
          benefits without delay. Requires the county welfare  
          department to notify the child or youth in writing of the  
          reason, if the application is denied.

                                     ABSTRACT  

           Existing law:

              1)   Establishes under federal law the Supplemental  
               Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as  
               food stamps, to provide food benefits to needy  
               families and individuals. (7 USC  2011 et seq.)  

                                                         Continued---



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              2)   Establishes in California statute the CalFresh  
               program to administer the provision of federal SNAP  
               benefits to families and individuals meeting specified  
               criteria. (WIC  18900 et seq.)


             3)   Provides in California law that the eligibility of  
               households shall be determined to the extent permitted  
               by federal law. (WIC  18901)


             4)   Generally, provides in federal law that  
               participation in SNAP shall be limited to those  
               households whose incomes and other financial  
               resources, held singly or in joint ownership, are  
               determined to be a substantial limiting factor in  
               permitting them to obtain a more nutritious diet. (7  
               USC  2014(a))





             5)   Defines "Household" as an individual who lives  
               alone or who, while living with others, customarily  
               purchases food and prepares meals for home consumption  
               separate and apart from the others; or a group of  
               individuals who live together and customarily purchase  
               food and prepare meals together for home consumption.  
               (7 USC  2012(n)(1))


             6)   Specifies in federal law that parents and their  
               children 21 years of age or younger who live together  
               ares to be treated as a group of individuals who  
               customarily purchase and prepare meals together for  
               home consumption even if they do not do so. (7 USC   
               2012(n)(2))


             7)   Under the federal law, the term "Unaccompanied  
               youth" includes a youth not in the physical custody of  
               a parent or guardian. (42 USC  11434a(6))






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             8)   Defines "Homeless individual" as an individual who  
               lacks a fixed and regular nighttime residence; or an  
               individual who has a primary nighttime residence that  
               is a supervised publicly or privately operated  
               shelter, an institution, a temporary accommodation for  
               not more than 90 days in the residence of another  
               individual, or a public or private place not designed  
               for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping  
               accommodation for human beings. (7 USC  2012(m))


             9)   Requires the California Department of Social  
               Services (DSS) to develop CalFresh information on  
               expedited services targeted to the homeless  
               population. These shall be made available to homeless  
               shelters, emergency food programs, and other community  
               agencies that provide services to homeless people.  
               (WIC  18904.25(a))


             10)  Requires each county welfare department annually to  
               offer training on CalFresh application procedures to  
               homeless shelter operators. (WIC  18904.25(b))


             11)  Requires local educational agencies to designate an  
               appropriate staff person as a local educational agency  
               liaison for homeless children and youths. (42 USC   
               11432(g)(1)(J)(ii))).


             12)  Requires each local educational agency liaison for  
               homeless children and youths to ensure that homeless  
               children and youths are identified. (42 USC   
               11432(g)(6)(A)(i)))  


          This bill:


              1)   Requires, in determining eligibility for CalFresh,  
               that no minimum age requirement be imposed other than  
               those that exist under federal law.

             2)   Requires the department in its existing outreach  




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               program that provides targeted information about  
               expedited benefits for the homeless to specifically  
               include information about homeless children and youth,  
               as defined.

             3)   Requires the department to make CalFresh  
               information available to local educational agency  
               liaisons for homeless children and youths, as  
               specified, in addition to existing outreach targets.

             4)   Requires each county welfare department (CWD) to  
               include eligibility criteria and specific information  
               regarding the eligibility of unaccompanied homeless  
               children and youth in the established annual training  
               on CalFresh application procedures.

             5)   Requires each CWD to determine CalFresh eligibility  
               without unnecessary delay upon a signed application  
               from an unaccompanied youth under 18, as specified.  
               This determination shall include whether the youth is  
               eligible to apply as a household of one or if he or  
               she must apply with members of a household with whom  
               he or she is regularly purchasing and preparing foods.

             6)   Requires each CWD to screen an application from an  
               unaccompanied youth under age 18 for entitlement to  
               expedited service, as specified.

             7)   Requires a CWD to provide the child or youth a  
               written notice explaining the reason for the denial,  
               if the application of the child or youth for CalFresh  
               benefits is denied. (42 USC  11432(g)(6)(A))

             8)   Deletes redundant language in WIC section 18914. 


                                  FISCAL IMPACT  

          An Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis indicates  
          that costs associated with this legislation should be minor  
          and absorbable within existing resources.

                            BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION
                                         
           Purpose of the bill




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          According to the author, AB 309 will end the denial of  
          CalFresh benefits to unaccompanied homeless minors by  
          clarifying state law. The author states that CalFresh food  
          benefits are denied to these minors inconsistently across  
          the state. 

          The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  
          (SNAP), does not place age restrictions on a head of  
          household applying for or receiving benefits under the  
          program. Unaccompanied youth can apply for and receive food  
          assistance benefits without a parent's or guardian's  
          signature. However, according to the author, in practice  
          many county offices are unaware that a youth under 18 years  
          old can receive SNAP benefits through the CalFresh program  
          and may deny these benefits to youth under 18, including  
          unaccompanied homeless minors. 

           CalFresh
           
          The SNAP program known in California as CalFresh, is a  
          federal food benefit administered by the U.S. Department of  
          Agriculture (USDA) and, at the state level, by the DSS.  
          Overall caseload for the program in California has grown  
          steadily since 2001, and approximately 4 million people are  
          currently receiving CalFresh, up from just over 3 million  
          in 2010. According to USDA data, California has the lowest  
          participation rate in the country - only 55 percent of all  
          eligible persons receive CalFresh benefits.

          The CalFresh program is intended to improve the health and  
          well-being of individuals by providing a means to meet  
          their nutritional needs. These benefits are 100% funded by  
          the federal government. (The USDA, California and its  
          counties share in the cost of administering the program).  
          The average amount of CalFresh benefits received per  
          household is about $200 per month per adult. 

           Household

           Federal law requires states to consider parents with a  
          child under 21 years of age to be treated as a group of  
          individuals who customarily purchase and prepare meals  
          together for home consumption, even if they do not  
          customarily do so. However, this household definition does  




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          not apply if the child does not live with their parent. In  
          that circumstance, a child may apply for benefits as head  
          of household. Under the federal law, unaccompanied youth  
          are not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian.

           Homeless Youth

           According to a report by The California Youth Project,  
          every year, about 200,000 young people in California become  
          homeless. By definition, homeless individuals lack a fixed  
          and regular nighttime residence; have a primary nighttime  
          residence that is a supervised publicly or privately  
          operated shelter, or in an institution; live temporarily  
          (for 90 days or less) in the residence of another  
          individual, or in a public or private place not ordinarily  
          used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. 

          Unaccompanied youth include young people who have run away,  
          have been forced out, and/or have been abandoned by a  
          parent or guardian. Many unaccompanied youth flee their  
          homes as a result of physical and sexual abuse or neglect,  
          are forced out because they are pregnant, gay or lesbian,  
          or are leaving the child welfare or juvenile justice  
          system. According to the author, some of these youth have  
          reported being denied CalFresh food benefits although they  
          are eligible under state and federal law.
           
          McKinny-Vento Liaisons

           Every school district must designate a liaison for children  
          and youth experiencing homelessness. The McKinney-Vento Act  
          requires school district liaisons to ensure that homeless  
          children and youths are identified by school personnel and  
          through coordination with other agencies. The purpose of  
          identification is to offer appropriate services to the  
          family, child or youth, including assisting in applying for  
          CalFresh benefits. 





           Redundant Code Section

           This bill deletes the following redundant language from the  




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          Welfare and Institutions Code 18914 which was amended by AB  
          1400 (Committee on Human Services (A) - (Beall (Chair),  
          Ammiano, Hall, and Portantino, 2011). The code section  
          states:
               To the extent provided by federal law, the county  
               welfare department shall provide CalFresh benefits on  
               an expedited basis to households determined to be in  
               immediate need of food assistance.

               This section shall become operative July 1, 1991.

               (Amended (as added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 1293, Sec. 9)  
               by Stats. 2011, Ch. 227, Sec. 89. Effective January 1,  
               2012. See version as amended by Sec. 88 of Ch. 227,  
               which succeeds prior amendments by Stats. 1987, Ch.  
               1293, Sec. 8, and Stats. 1990, Ch. 443.)

          This bill  does not  delete or amend the language from the  
          Welfare and Institutions Code 18914 which was amended by AB  
          1359 (Skinner, 2012). The code section states:

               (a) In accordance with, and to the extent provided by,  
               federal law, the county human services agency shall  
               provide CalFresh benefits on an expedited basis as  
               provided in subdivision (b) to households determined  
               to be in immediate need of food assistance.

               (b) Pursuant to the federal requirements of Section  
               273.2(i)(2) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal  
               Regulations, the county human services agency shall  
               screen all CalFresh applications for entitlement to  
               expedited service. Applicants who meet the federal  
               criteria for expedited service as defined in Section  
               273.2(i)(1) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal  
               Regulations shall receive either a manual  
               authorization to participate or automated card or the  
               immediate issuance of CalFresh benefits no later than  
               the third day following the date the application was  
               filed. To the maximum extent permitted by federal law,  
               the amount of income to be received from any source  
               shall be deemed to be uncertain and exempt from  
               consideration in the determination of entitlement for  
               expedited service. For purposes of this subdivision, a  
               weekend shall be considered one calendar day.





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               (c) The State Department of Social Services shall  
               develop and implement for expedited issuance a uniform  
               procedure for verifying information required of an  
               applicant.

               (Amended (as amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 227, Sec. 88)  
               by Stats. 2012, Ch. 468, Sec. 1. Effective January 1,  
               2013. See the version added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 1293,  
               Sec. 9, as further amended by Stats. 2011, Ch. 227,  
               Sec. 89.)

                                     COMMENTS
           
          Staff notes that DSS expects to release an All County  
          Information Notice (ACIN) on July 1, 2013 regarding this  
          issue.
                                         
                                  PRIOR VOTES
           
          Assembly Floor:     76 - 0
          Assembly Appropriations:17 - 0
          Assembly Human Services:  7 - 0 
                                         
                                   POSITIONS  

          Support:       National Association for the Education of 
                              Homeless Children and Youth (sponsor) 
                         American Federation of 
                              State, County and Municipal Employees  
                         (AFSCME)
                         California Association of Food Banks
                         California Black Health Network
                         California Catholic Conferences of Bishops
                         California Coalition for Youth (CCY)
                         California Communities United Institute
                         California Federation of Teachers
                         California Food Policy Advocates
                         California School Employees Association
                         California State Conference of the National  
                              Association for the Advancement of  
                              Colored People (CANAACP)
                         California State PTA
                         Coalition of California Welfare Rights  
                    Organization, Inc.
                         County of San Diego




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                         County Welfare Directors Association of  
                    California (CWDA)
                         Housing California
                         Junior Leagues of California State Public  
                    Affairs Committee
                         Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
                         San Diego Hunger Coalition
                         San Francisco Unified School District  
                    (SFUSD)
                         Silicon Valley Community Foundation
                         United Way of California
                         Western Center on Law and Poverty
                         
          Oppose:   None on file

                                        
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