BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 371


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          Date of Hearing:  March 24, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES


                                     Chu, Chair


          AB  
                    371 (Mullin) - As Introduced  February 17, 2015


          SUBJECT:  CalWORKs Family Unity Act of 2015


          SUMMARY:  Streamlines CalWORKs eligibility standards for  
          two-parent families.  


          Specifically, this bill:


          1)Deletes the deprivation standard used to determine CalWORKs  
            eligibility for needy two-parent families by deleting the  
            following eligibility requirements for CalWORKs benefits:  

               a)    That either parent be unemployed;
               
               b)    That a child be considered deprived of parental  
                support due to the unemployment of his or her parent or  
                parents; and
               
               c)    That a parent work less than 100 hours per month.  

           2)Removes consideration of the state deprivation standard for  
            determining a minor dependent or nonminor dependent's  
            eligibility for Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Foster  
            Care (AFDC-FC) funds, and instead ties eligibility to  
            standards in federal regulations, as specified.

          3)Defines parent as a natural or adoptive parent with whom an  








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            eligible child is living.

          4)Deletes the eligibility requirement that a child must be  
            deprived of parental support or care due to the death,  
            physical or mental incapacity or incarceration of a parent,  
            the unemployment of one or both parents or the continued  
            absence of a parent from the home due to divorce, separation,  
            desertion, or any other reason, as specified. 

          5)Requires that CalWORKs aid, services, or both be granted,  
            subject to the regulations of the Department of Social  
            Services, to families with related children under 18 years of  
            age, with exemptions already stated in statute, if the family  
            meets the eligibility requirements specified in this chapter,  
            which include income and work requirements.

          6)Requires a parent to be excluded from the assistance unit if  
            he or she is absent from the home due to divorce, separation,  
            desertion, or any other reason, if his or her absence  
            interrupts or terminates the parent's functioning as a  
            provider of maintenance, physical care, or guidance for the  
            child, and the known or indefinite duration of the absence  
            precludes counting on the parent's performance of the function  
            of planning for the present support or care of the child.   
            Provides that, if these conditions exist, the parent may be  
            absent for any reason, and may have left only recently or some  
            time previously.

          EXISTING LAW:


          1)Establishes under federal law the Temporary Assistance for  
            Needy Families (TANF) program to provide aid and  
            welfare-to-work services to eligible families and, in  
            California, provides that TANF funds for welfare-to-work  
            services are administered through the CalWORKs program.  (42  
            U.S.C. 601 et seq., WIC 11200 et seq.) 



          2)Establishes income, asset and real property limits used to  
            determine eligibility for the program, including net income  








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            below the Maximum Aid Payment (MAP), based on family size and  
            county of residence, which is around 40% of the Federal  
            Poverty Level.  (WIC 11450, 11150 et seq.)

          3)Provides that a child whose parent is applying for CalWORKs  
            assistance shall be considered deprived of parental support or  
            care due to the unemployment of his or her parent when the  
            parent has worked less than 100 hours in the preceding four  
            weeks, as specified.  (WIC 11201)

          4)Grants CalWORKs aid, services, or both to families with  
            related children under 18 years of age, except as specified,  
            if they are deemed needy and deprived of parental support or  
            care due to the death, physical or mental incapacity or  
            incarceration of a parent; the unemployment of a parent or  
            parents; or the continued absence of a parent from the home  
            due to divorce, separation, desertion, or any other reason,  
            except occasional absence due solely to the parent's active  
            duty with the US armed services.  (WIC 11250)

          5)Establishes a 48-month lifetime limit of CalWORKs benefits for  
            eligible adults, including 24 months during which a recipient  
            must meet federal work requirements in order to retain  
            eligibility.  (WIC 11454, 11322.85)

          6)Requires all individuals over 16 years of age, unless they are  
            otherwise exempt, to participate in welfare-to-work activities  
            as a condition of eligibility for CalWORKs.  (WIC 11320.3,  
            11322.6)

          7)Establishes the number of weekly hours of welfare-to-work  
            participation necessary to remain eligible for aid, including  
            requirements for an unemployed parent in a two-parent  
            assistance unit, as specified.  (WIC 11322.8)
          
          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:


          CalWORKs:  The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to  








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          Kids (CalWORKs) program provides monthly income assistance and  
          employment-related services aimed at moving children out of  
          poverty and helping families meet basic needs.  Federal funding  
          for CalWORKs comes from the Temporary Assistance for Needy  
          Families (TANF) block grant.  The average 2015-16 monthly cash  
          grant for a family of three on CalWORKs (one parent and two  
          children) is $506.55.  According to recent data from the  
          California Department of Social Services, over 540,000 families  
          rely on CalWORKs, including over one million children.  Nearly  
          80% of the children are under age twelve and 40% are under age  
          five.


          Average grant amounts of $506.55 per month for a family of three  
          means $16.88 per day, per family, or $5.62 per family member,  
          per day to meet basic needs, including rent, clothing, utility  
          bills, food, and anything else a family needs to ensure children  
          can be cared for at home and safely remain with their families.   
          This grant amount puts the annual household income at $6,078 per  
          year.  Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2015 show that 100% of  
          poverty for a family of three is over three times that at  
          $20,090 per year.  


          Welfare-to-Work requirements:  Welfare-to-work activities within  
          the CalWORKs program include public or private sector subsidized  
          or unsubsidized employment; on-the-job training; community  
          service; secondary school, adult basic education and vocational  
          education and training when the education is needed for the  
          recipient to become employed; specific mental health, substance  
          abuse, or domestic violence services if they are necessary to  
          obtain or retain employment; and a number of other activities  
          necessary to assist a recipient in obtaining unsubsidized  
          employment.  


          Unless they are exempt, single parent adults must participate  
          for at least 30 hours per week in welfare-to-work activities,  
          whereas the minimum participation requirement for two-parent  
          families is 35 hours per week.  After receiving aid for up to a  
          maximum of 24 months, adults without an exemption must work in  
          unsubsidized employment or participate in community services  








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          activities for the minimum number of hours listed above.  If a  
          CalWORKs recipient who is not exempt from participation does not  
          meet his or her welfare-to-work requirements, the recipient is  
          sanctioned for noncompliance, and that recipient's portion of  
          the family's grant subtracted from the amount provided to the  
          family to meet basic needs.


          Need for this bill:  The Personal Responsibility and Work  
          Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), which was the  
          final piece of federal welfare reform legislation, repealed the  
          Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and  
          created the block-granted Temporary Assistance for Needy  
          Families (TANF) program.  The new approach emphasized  
          integrating parents into the workforce, and one of the resulting  
          four core purposes of the federal TANF program is to encourage  
          the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.  However,  
          current state law prevents a poor two-parent family from  
          receiving aid if the primary wage earner has worked more than  
          100 hours in a month.  This policy mirrors AFDC provisions  
          included in the Code of Federal Regulations, which haven't been  
          updated since before PRWORA was implemented, making California  
          one of only eight states that still implements this standard.  


          While the 100-hour policy is based on the assumption that an  
          average of 25 hours of work per week can generate enough income  
          for a parent to provide for his or her family and set the  
          family's income above the eligibility threshold for CalWORKs,  
          this is often not the case.  In direct conflict with the TANF  
          goal of two-parent family maintenance, this policy encourages  
          parents to split, as the same family would be eligible for aid  
          if the primary wage earner left the home.  This bill repeals the  
          100-hour standard while maintaining all resource and income  
          eligibility requirements, all of which reveal a CalWORKs  
          applicant family's need for assistance.


          According to the author, "The CalWORKs Family Unity Act of 2015  
          is a modest effort to strengthen the safety net for low-income  
          working families of California, who today endure the highest  
          poverty rate in the Nation.  By improving economic opportunities  








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          for low-income two-parent homes, we will also strengthen family  
          unit. "


          PRIOR LEGISLATION:


          AB 1502 (Mullin), 2014, was similar to this bill.  It included  
          removal of the deprivation standard, in addition to changes to  
          work requirements for relative caregivers within the CalWORKs  
          program.  It died on the Senate Appropriations Suspense File.


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:


          Support


          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees  
          (AFSCME), AFL-CIO 
          California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA) 
          California Catholic Conference of Bishops 
          California Partnership 
          Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organization 
          County Welfare Directors Association of CA (CWDA) 
          St. Anthony Foundation 
          Western Center on Law and Poverty 


          Opposition


          None on file.


          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Myesha Jackson / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089












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