BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 371


                                                                    Page  1





          Date of Hearing:  April 15, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


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


           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Policy       |Human Services                 |Vote:|7 - 0        |
          |Committee:   |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |-------------+-------------------------------+-----+-------------|
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |-------------+-------------------------------+-----+-------------|
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
          |             |                               |     |             |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 


          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          Yes


          SUMMARY:


          This bill streamlines the California Work Opportunity and  
          Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) eligibility standards for  
          two-parent families by requiring that aid be granted to a family  








                                                                     AB 371


                                                                    Page  2





          that meets applicable eligibility requirements, without regard  
          to the employment status of the parent. Specifically, this bill:  
           


          1)Deletes the eligibility requirement for CalWORKs benefits: 


               a.     That either parent be unemployed  
                b.     That a child be deprived of parental support due to  
                 unemployment  
                c.     That a parent work less than 100 hours per month  

           1)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. 

          2)Replaces that language with the requirement that aid,  
            services, or both be granted under this chapter, and subject  
            to the regulations of the department, to families with related  
            children under 18 years of age, with exemptions already stated  
            in statute, if the family meets the eligibility requirements  
            including income and work requirements.

          3)Establishes that the absence of a parent is not a condition of  
            eligibility to receive benefits, and defines absence of a  
            parent to mean the continued absence of a parent from the home  
            due to divorce, separation, desertion, or any other reason. 

          FISCAL EFFECT:


          Ongoing increase in CalWORKs grant, services, and administrative  
          costs in the range of $1million to $2 million (GF) to the extent  
          this bill results in additional eligible cases and fewer cases  
          discontinued from the CalWORKs program. This will be partially  








                                                                     AB 371


                                                                    Page  3





          offset to the extent the newly eligible cases will no longer  
          receive a CalFresh stipend available only to non-assistance  
          households.








          COMMENTS:


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


            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 regardless of income. This "deprivation  
            standard" was originally enacted to comply with the now  
            outdated AFDC rules (repealed in 1996) which required that  
            two-parent families take additional steps to prove deprivation  
            in order to receive aid. Now in direct conflict with the TANF  
            goal of two-parent family maintenance, many states began  
            modifying or removing special requirements for two-parent  
            units shortly after the 1996 repeal of AFDC.  By 2001, just 14  
            states still had laws in place with restrictions on two-parent  
            households. As of 2011, California was one of just four states  
            that retained the 100-hour working limit for two-parent  
            families. This bill repeals the 100-hour standard while  
            maintaining all resource and income eligibility requirements.










                                                                     AB 371


                                                                    Page  4








          2)Background. In 1996, federal legislation repealed the Aid to  
            Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and created the  
            block-granted Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)  
            program. The new approach emphasized integrating parents into  
            the workforce, and encouraged the formation and maintenance of  
            two-parent families. In California, TANF funds are  
            administered through the CalWORKs program.
            


            CalWORKs:  The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility  
            to 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 puts the annual household income at $6,078 per year. The  
            poverty level for a family of three is $20,090 per year  
            according to the 2015 Federal Poverty Guidelines.


            Two parent families make up about 8.6% of total CalWORKs  
            cases. Two parent families with a wage earner working 100 or  
            more hours per week at minimum wage are unlikely to qualify  
            for a CalWORKs grant (especially if the family size is smaller  
            than four) or will qualify for a reduced amount ($124 -  
            $165/month), even with the $225 income disregard. They are  








                                                                     AB 371


                                                                    Page  5





            also unlikely to be using welfare-to-work activities beyond  
            employment and are less likely to use child care services than  
            the average recipient. They may, however, use other CalWORKs  
            supportive services such as transportation. Assuming a monthly  
            average of 320 newly eligible cases and 400 cases no longer  
            discontinued, and based on utilization rates reasonable for  
            two parent households, total annual costs under this bill  
            would be in the range of $1million to $2 million (GF). This  
            cost will be partially offset to the extent the newly eligible  
            cases will no longer receive a CalFresh stipend available only  
            to non-assistance households.


          3)Prior Legislation. AB 1502 (Mullin), 2014, was similar to this  
            bill.  It included removal of the deprivation standard, but  
            also included changes to work requirements for relative  
            caregivers within the CalWORKS program. The latter changes are  
            not included in this bill. AB 1502 was held on the Senate  
            Appropriations Committee Suspense File.



          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Swenson / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081