BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES
                               Senator McGuire, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:              AB 371
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          |Author:   |Mullin                                                |
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          |Version:  |February 17, 2015      |Hearing    | June 23, 2015   |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant|Mareva Brown                                          |
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                     Subject:  CalWORKs Family Unity Act of 2016


            SUMMARY
          
          This bill deletes the statutory requirement that a child's  
          eligibility for CalWORKs benefits in a two-parent household be  
          based upon the child's "deprivation," defined as a parent's  
          unemployment or a parent working fewer than 100 hours per month.  
          This bill would prohibit an absent parent from being included in  
          the family's assistance unit for purposes of determining  
          eligibility or computing the amount of aid to be paid. 

            ABSTRACT
          
          Existing law:

             1)   Establishes in federal statute 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 California Work  
               Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (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 below the Maximum Aid Payment (MAP), based on family  
               size and county of residence, which is approximately 40  
               percent of the Federal Poverty Level.  (WIC 11450, 11150 et  








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               seq.)

             3)   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)

             4)   Establishes that a child is deprived of parental support  
               for the purposes of receiving CalWORKs benefits due to the  
               unemployment of his or her parent(s) when the parent has  
               worked less than 100 hours in the preceding four weeks, and  
               meets specified federal definitions of an unemployed  
               parent.  (WIC 11201)

             5)   Establishes that a family receiving CalWORKs benefits  
               with a child who is considered to be deprived of parental  
               support due to unemployment may continue to receive  
               assistance regardless of the number of hours his or her  
               parent works provided the family does not exceed the  
               applicable gross or net income limits and is otherwise  
               eligible for assistance. (WIC 11201 (c))

             6)   Establishes that a family is eligible for CalWORKs  
               benefits and services if their related children under the  
               age of 18 years, have been 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,  
               except absence occasioned solely by reason of the  
               performance of active duty in the uniformed services of the  
               United States, as defined. (WIC 11250)

             7)   Defines "continued absence" to exist when the nature of  
               the absence is such as either to interrupt or to terminate  
               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. If these  
               conditions exist, the parent may be absent for any reason,  
               and may have left only recently or some time previously.  
               WIC 11250 (c))










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             8)   Requires that in a family eligible for CalWORKs aid due  
               to the unemployment of the principal wage earner, the  
               exemption criteria for an adult caring for a young child  
               may be applied only to one parent. (WIC 11320.3 (b)(6)(B))

             9)   Requires the payment of CalWORKs assistance to nonparent  
               caregivers who are caring for a foster child, ward of the  
               court, or child at risk of foster care placement, as  
               defined. (WIC 11401) 

             10)  Specifies weekly number of hours required of  
               welfare-to-work participation for adults to remain eligible  
               for CalWORKs benefits in households of different sizes,  
               including for those households with "unemployed parents."  
               (WIC 11322.8)
            
          This bill:

             1)   Eliminates the requirement that a child must be  
               "deprived of parental support or care" in order to be  
               eligible for CalWORKs benefits in a two-parent family by  
               deleting the following requirements:  


                a)     That either parent be unemployed;
               b)     That a child must be considered deprived of parental  
                 support; and
               c)     That a parent must work less than 100 hours per  
                 month to be considered unemployed.
          
             1)   Replaces those statutory definitions, for the purposes  
               of this chapter, with the definition of a "parent" to mean  
               a natural or adoptive parent with whom an eligible child is  
               living.  


              2)   Deletes the eligibility requirement that a child must be  
               deprived of parental support or care due to one of the  
               following:  


                a)     A parent's death, physical or mental incapacity or  
                 incarceration,
               b)     The unemployment of one or both parents,









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               c)     The continued absence of a parent from the home due  
                 to divorce, separation, desertion, or any other reason,  
                 as specified. 


             1)   Deletes the eligibility requirement to establish the  
               continued absence of a parent, and the definition of  
               continued absence of a parent and replaces that language  
               with the requirement that CalWORKs aid, services, or both  
               shall be granted to families with related children, as  
               defined, if the family meets specified eligibility  
               requirements.



             2)   Replaces the statutory citation for "deprived of  
               parental support or care," which this bill deletes, with  
               a deprivation citation in federal law in California  
               statute pertaining to children in the child-welfare  
               system.



             3)   Specifies that a parent shall not be included in the  
               benefit calculation for an 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. If these conditions exist, the parent may  
               be absent for any reason, and may have left only recently  
               or some time previously.


             4)   Requires the California Department of Social Services  
               (CDSS) to implement the new statutory requirements in an  
               all-county letter or similar instruction no later than  
               March 1, 2016 and to adopt implementing regulations no  
               later than July 1, 2018.











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            FISCAL IMPACT
          
           According to the Assembly Appropriations committee, this bill  
          would result in an ongoing increase in CalWORKs grant, services,  
          and administrative costs in the range of $1 million to $2  
          million (General Fund) to the extent this bill results in  
          additional eligible cases and fewer cases discontinued from the  
          CalWORKs program.  This will be partially offset to the extent  
          the newly eligible cases will no longer receive a CalFresh  
          stipend available only to non-assistance households.

            BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION
          
          Purpose of the bill:

          According to the author, the current CalWORKs program maintains  
          a provision that is an outdated holdover from the old Aid to  
          Family with Dependent Children Program (AFDC), known as the  
          deprivation test. The deprivation test requires a family to show  
          absence of parental support in addition to proving that they  
          have met income and asset tests in order to receive assistance  
          through the program.  


          According to the author, the most harmful impact of this rule is  
          that it results in a denial of aid to two-parent families when  
          parents are employed, even if their income and assets qualify  
          them for aid. AB 371 will even out the rules for two-parent  
          households, and simplify CalWORKs program eligibility  
          requirements to align them with CalFresh and Medi-Cal, according  
          to the author.


          CalWORKs


          California has the highest poverty rate in the nation - just  
          under one-quarter of residents are living at or below the  
          federal poverty level (FPL) according to the national  
          Supplemental Poverty Measure. These families earn no more than  
          $20,090 per year for a family of three. One of California's most  
          essential anti-poverty strategies is the CalWORKs program, which  
          provided cash assistance to approximately 540,000 families in  
          2014, including more than 1 million children. Nearly 80 percent  









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          of the children are under age twelve and almost 40 percent are  
          under age five. Federal funding for CalWORKs comes from the TANF  
          block grant.


          A grant to a family of three in a high-cost California county is  
          $704 per month, or $8,448 per year, which is approximately 42  
          percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). This grant  
          translates to $23.46 per day, per family 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. 


          In 1989, a similar CalWORKs grant was worth about 81 percent of  
          FPL, and 55 percent in 1997. Part of the reason for this decline  
          has been a series of changes over the past five years including  
          significant grant cuts, the elimination of a Cost of Living  
          Adjustment, and a major restructuring of the Welfare to Work  
          activities, requirements and time limits. Adults in the program  
          have gone from a 60-month lifetime limit on CalWORKs aid to a  
          48-month limit, with strict requirements on work participation  
          to remain in the program after 24 months.


          Deprivation standard

          The state's deprivation standards were originally enacted to  
          comply with federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children  
          (AFDC) rules, which required that two-parent families take  
          additional steps to prove deprivation in order to receive aid.  
          The AFDC statute was replaced in 1996 with the Temporary  
          Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, which emphasized  
          work preparation in conjunction with receipt of the grant. One  
          of the four core purposes of the TANF program is to encourage  
          the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.  
          California's CalWORKs program is framed around the TANF program  
          and its block grant. With the TANF program, the federal  
          government gave states the ability to modify program eligibility  
          and requirements.  

          The deprivation test prohibits a two-parent family from  
          qualifying for CalWORKs if the primary wage earner is working  
          over 100 hours a month, regardless of their income. It also  









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          requires a county human services agency to verify parental  
          absence in order to assist a family with two parents. The  
          100-hour work limit is a remnant of the prior AFDC law, which  
          was based on the assumption that an average of 25 hours per week  
          would put a family above the threshold to receive cash benefits.  
          Many states have modified or removed special requirements for  
          two-parent units, but California remains one of just six states  
          that maintains the 100-hour limit.<1> This bill would modify  
          eligibility criteria to simply require families meet income and  
          asset tests, regardless of how many hours they work or how many  
          parents are in the home.


          Welfare-to-Work requirements


          Adult benefits in the CalWORKs program are contingent upon  
          participation in welfare-to-work activities, which can include  
          job finding, job training, educational pursuits, subsidized  
          employment or unsubsidized employment, as defined and within  
          specific parameters. Federal and state requirements may vary  
          slightly.


          Single parent adults are required to participate for at least 30  
          hours per week in welfare-to-work activities, and two-parent  
          families are required to work a minimum of 35 hours per week,  
          unless participants are exempted. 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  
          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 is subtracted from the amount provided to the  
          family to meet basic needs.


          Related legislation:

          AB 1502 (Mullin, 2014) was substantially similar to this bill.  

          ---------------------------
          <1> The Urban Institute's Welfare Rules Database, 2012










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          It was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

                               ARGUMENTS IN OPPOSITION

          The Department of Finance writes that it is opposed to this bill  
          because it expands eligibility for the CalWORKs program. "Under  
          current law, one factor of CalWORKs eligibility is child  
          deprivation. To meet the requirements of child deprivation, a  
          child must be deprived of parental support or care due to a  
          deceased parent, parental incapacity, an absent parent, or an  
          unemployed parent. This bill seeks to simplify CalWORKs  
          eligibility by removing the child deprivation criteria from  
          benefit determination."

                                ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT

          The California Coalition of Welfare Rights Organizations (CCWRO)  
          argues that the deprivation test inappropriately penalizes  
          two-parent working families, who are poor enough to qualify for  
          CalWORKs benefits. "The deprivation test is estimated to impact  
          thousands poor, two-parent working families throughout the  
          state, denying them CalWORKs assistance simply because the  
          primary wage earner worked too many hours. This rule is contrary  
          to the stated goals of the program to encourage work and family  
          unity. AB 371 would level the playing field for two-parent  
          households whose primary wage earner is working for a low-wage  
          by allowing these families to qualify for the program if their  
          income and assets are below the thresholds for their family  
          size."

            COMMENTS
          
          California's adherence to the deprivation standard - along with  
          Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee and several other states -  
          is at odds with the current federal law which states a primary  
          goal is to maintain two-parent families for needy children.   
          While this bill repeals the 100-hour standard, it maintains the  
          income eligibility requirements, ensuring that a family's need  
          is based on income and resource measurements. This bill differs  
          from AB 1502 (Mullin), which was held in Senate Appropriations  
          last year. The current bill does not include language related to  
          changes in work requirements for relative caretakers in the  
          CalWORKs program. AB 371 only addresses the deprivation test. 










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          To conform existing statute to the changes in this bill, staff  
          recommends the following amendments: 
          
           1.Page 3, line 12:
           
            11201. For purposes of this chapter, "parent" means a natural  
            or adoptive parent  with whom an eligible child is living.
           
           2.Additionally, amend Section 11320.3.(b) of the Welfare and  
            Institutions Code to read:  
           
               (6) A parent or other relative who meets the criteria in  
            subparagraph (A) or (B).
               (A) (i) The parent or other relative has primary  
            responsibility for personally providing care to a child six  
            months of age or under, except that, on a case-by-case basis,  
            and based on criteria developed
            by the county, this period may be reduced to the first 12  
            weeks after the birth or adoption of the child, or increased  
            to the first 12 months after the birth or adoption of the  
            child. An individual may be exempt only once under this  
            clause.
               (ii) An individual who received an exemption pursuant to  
            clause (i) shall be exempt for a period of 12 weeks, upon the  
            birth or adoption of any subsequent children, except that this  
            period may be extended on a case-by-case basis to six months,  
            based on criteria developed by the county.
               (iii) In making the determination to extend the period of  
            exception under clause (i) or (ii), the following may be  
            considered:
               (I) The availability of child care.
               (II) Local labor market conditions.
               (III) Other factors determined by the county.
               (iv) Effective January 1, 2013, the parent or other  
            relative has primary responsibility for personally providing  
            care to one child from birth to 23 months, inclusive. The  
            exemption provided for under this clause shall be available in  
            addition to any other exemption provided for under this  
            subparagraph. An individual may be exempt only once under this  
            clause.
               (B) In a family eligible for aid under this chapter  due to  
            the unemployment of the principal wage earner  , the exemption  
            criteria contained in subparagraph (A) shall be applied to  









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            only one parent.
             

           3.Additionally, amend Welfare and Institutions Code Section  
            11322.8 to read: 

             11322.8.  (a) For a recipient required to participate in  
            accordance with paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section  
            11322.85, unless the recipient is otherwise exempt, the  
            following shall apply:


            (1) (A) An adult recipient in  a one-parent   an  assistance unit  
             that includes   only one adult   or two adults in which one adult  
            is disabled as defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (3) of  
            subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3,  and does not include a  
            child under six years of age shall participate in  
            welfare-to-work activities for an average of at least 30 hours  
            per week during the month.


            (B) An adult recipient in  a one parent assistance unit   an  
            assistance unit   that includes only one adult, or two adults in  
            which one adult is disabled as defined in subparagraph (A) of  
            paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3  , and a  
            child under six years of age  , or an assistance unit that  
            consists only of a pregnant woman,  shall participate in  
            welfare-to-work activities for an average of at least 20 hours  
            per week during the month.


            (2)  An adult recipient   who is an unemployed parent  ,  as defined  
            in Section 11201  ,  Except as provided in paragraph (1), an  
            assistance unit that includes two adults  shall participate for  
            an average of at least 35 total hours of welfare-to-work  
            activities per week during the month. However, both  parents   in  
            a two-parent assistance unit   adults  may contribute to the 35  
            hours


             (b) For a recipient required to participate in accordance  
            with paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 11322.85, the  
            following shall apply: 










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            (1) Unless otherwise exempt, an adult recipient in an  
            assistance unit that includes only one adult  or two adults in  
            which one adult is disabled as defined in subparagraph (A) of  
            paragraph (3) of subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3, or an  
            assistance unit that consists only of a pregnant woman , shall  
            participate in welfare-to-work activities for an average of at  
            least 30 hours per week during the month, subject to the  
            special rules and limitations described in Section  
            607(c)(1)(A) of Title 42 of the United States Code as January  
            1, 2013. 


            (2) Unless otherwise exempt, an adult recipient in  a  
            one-parent   assistance unit   an assistance unit that includes  
            only one adult and  that includes a child under six years of  
            age shall participate in welfare-to-work activities for an  
            average of at least 20 hours per week during the month, as  
            described in Section 607(c)(2)(B) of Title 42 of the United  
            States Code as of January 1, 2013.


            (3) Unless otherwise exempt, an adult recipient  an unemployed  
            parent, as defined in Section 11201  ,  and except as provided in  
            paragraph (1), an assistance unit that includes two adults  
             shall participate in welfare-to-work activities for an average  
            of at least 35 total hours per week during the month, subject  
            to the special rules and limitations described in Section  
            607(c) (1) (B) of Title 42 of the United States Code as of  
            January 1, 2013. 

           4. Page 8, line 6. 
           
               SEC. 8. (a)  This act shall be operative nine months after  
                                 it is approved by the Governor, or July 1, 2016, whichever  
               is later.
                
                (b)  Notwithstanding the Administrative Procedure Act  
               (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of  
               Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the State  
               Department of Social Services shall implement this act  
               through an all-county letter or similar instructions from  
               the director  no later than March 1, 2016  .










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                (b)   (c)  The department shall adopt regulations as necessary  
               to implement this act no later than July 1, 2018.



            PRIOR VOTES
          
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          |Assembly Floor:                                            |79 - |
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          |Assembly Appropriations Committee:                         |17 - |
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          |Assembly Human Services Committee:                         |7 -  |
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            POSITIONS
                                          
          Support:       
                    AFSCME
                    California Catholic Conference of Bishops
                    California State PTA
                    LIUNA Locals 777 & 792
                    National Association of Social Workers
                    San Mateo County Board of Supervisors 
                    St. Anthony Foundation
                    Western Center on Law and Poverty
                    2 individuals

          Oppose:   
                    None received.

                                      -- END --
          











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