BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




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                                   THIRD READING 


          Bill No:  AB 371
          Author:   Mullin (D), et al.
          Amended:  9/1/15 in Senate
          Vote:     21  

           SENATE HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE:  5-0, 6/23/15
           AYES:  McGuire, Berryhill, Hancock, Liu, Nguyen

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  7-0, 8/27/15
           AYES:  Lara, Bates, Beall, Hill, Leyva, Mendoza, Nielsen

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  79-0, 6/2/15 - See last page for vote

           SUBJECT:   CalWORKs Family Unity Act of 2015


          SOURCE:    Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations


          DIGEST:  This bill deletes the statutory requirement that a  
          childs eligibility for the California Work Opportunity and  
          Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program 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 also prohibits 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. 


          ANALYSIS:   


          Existing law:









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           1) Establishes 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  
             below the Maximum Aid Payment, based on family size and  
             county of residence, which is approximately 40 percent of the  
             federal poverty level (FPL).  (WIC 11450, 11150 et 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 age 18, have  
             been deprived of parental support or care due to the death,  








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             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))


           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:










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           1) Deletes the consideration of child deprivation as a factor  
             in determining eligibility, and enables eligibility without  
             regard to the employment status of a parent (current law  
             requires the principal earner to be unemployed or working  
             less than 100 hours per month) if the family meets all other  
             eligibility requirements.


           2) Provides that the absence of a parent, as defined, is not a  
             condition of eligibility to receive CalWORKs benefits, and  
             expands the definition of "absent parent" to include parents  
             absent solely by reason of the performance of active duty in  
             the armed forces.


           3) Reduces work requirements for pregnant women from 30 hours  
             to 20 hours per week during the welfare-to-work 24-month  
             clock, and aligns work requirements for two-parent assistance  
             units for all families including two adults, as specified.


          Background


          CalWORKs. California has the highest poverty rate in the nation  
          - just under one-quarter of residents are living at or below the  
          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 provides cash  
          assistance to approximately 540,000 families, including more  
          than one million children. Nearly 80 percent of the children are  
          under age 12 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 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. 








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          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 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  
          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.  [The Urban Institute's  
          Welfare Rules Database, 2012.] This bill modifies 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.









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          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.


          FISCAL EFFECT:   Appropriation:    No          Fiscal  
          Com.:YesLocal:   Yes


          According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, this bill will  
          result in ongoing major increase in CalWORKs grant, services,  
          and administrative costs of $15.7 million to $18.5 million  
          (General Fund) per year to the extent removing the child  
          deprivation rule results in additional eligible cases and fewer  
          cases discontinued from the CalWORKs program. It also will incur  
          one-time costs potentially in excess of $150,000 (General Fund)  
          for automation changes and an unknown net increase/decrease in  
          CalWORKs program costs (General Fund) resulting from the changes  
          to hourly work requirements for assistance units with two  
          adults, which could result in increased employment services  
          costs, offset by grant cost savings resulting from increased  
          earnings or higher sanction rates.










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          SUPPORT:   (Verified8/31/15)


          Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations (source)
          Western Center on Law and Poverty


          OPPOSITION:   (Verified8/31/15)




          None received




          ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT:   The Western Center on Law and Poverty  
          writes that current law denies applications for CalWORKs  
          assistance from two-parent families when the primary wage earner  
          is working over 100 hours a month regardless of the family's  
          income. This is due to a rule that the current CalWORKs program  
          maintains, known as the child deprivation test, which 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.  California is one of  
          only nine states that maintain the deprivation tests.  Western  
          Center on Law and Poverty additionally writes that AB 371 will  
          remove the deprivation test in CalWORKs which will not only even  
          the rules for two-parent households but also simplify the  
          CalWORKs program eligibility requirements  and align them with  
          CalFresh and Medi-Cal. "It is unfortunate that a family working  
          100 hours per week would still be poor enough to qualify for the  
          program, but with wage stagnation at its peak, it happens more  
          frequently now than it did in previous decades. What's worse is  
          that existing law not only punishes families who are working  
          hard to get ahead but receiving a low-wage, but it incentivizes  
          families to split.  This is because the same family would be  
          eligible for aid if the primary wage earner left.  AB 371 would  
          level the playing field for two-parent households whose primary  








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          wage earner is working for a low-wage by allowing them to  
          qualify for the program if their income and assets are below the  
          thresholds for their family size," according to Western Center  
          on Law and Poverty.

          ASSEMBLY FLOOR:  79-0, 6/2/15
          AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Travis Allen, Baker, Bigelow, Bloom,  
            Bonilla, Bonta, Brough, Brown, Burke, Calderon, Campos, Chang,  
            Chau, Chiu, Chu, Cooley, Cooper, Dababneh, Dahle, Daly, Dodd,  
            Eggman, Frazier, Beth Gaines, Gallagher, Cristina Garcia,  
            Eduardo Garcia, Gatto, Gipson, Gomez, Gonzalez, Gordon, Gray,  
            Grove, Hadley, Harper, Roger Hernández, Holden, Irwin, Jones,  
            Jones-Sawyer, Kim, Lackey, Levine, Linder, Lopez, Low,  
            Maienschein, Mathis, Mayes, McCarty, Medina, Melendez, Mullin,  
            Nazarian, Obernolte, O'Donnell, Olsen, Patterson, Perea,  
            Quirk, Rendon, Ridley-Thomas, Rodriguez, Salas, Santiago,  
            Steinorth, Mark Stone, Thurmond, Ting, Wagner, Waldron, Weber,  
            Wilk, Williams, Wood, Atkins
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Chávez

          Prepared by:Mareva Brown / HUMAN S. / (916) 651-1524
          9/1/15 21:30:39


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