BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 371


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          GOVERNOR'S VETO


          AB  
          371 (Mullin)


          As Enrolled  September 15, 2015


          2/3 vote


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          Original Committee Reference:  HUM. S.


          SUMMARY:  Streamlines California Work Opportunity and  
          Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) eligibility standards for  
          two-parent families.  Specifically, this bill:









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          1)Eliminates 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 funds, and instead ties eligibility to standards in  
            federal regulations, as specified.
          3)Defines parent as a natural or adoptive parent with whom an  
            eligible child is living.


          4)Eliminates 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  








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            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.


          7)Establishes a July 1, 2016, implementation date for the  
            provisions of this bill.


          The Senate amendments:


          1)Clarify that the work requirement is 20 hours per week for a  
            pregnant woman receiving CalWORKs benefits during the 24-month  
            welfare-to-work time clock.


          2)Establish a July 1, 2016, effective date for the provisions of  
            this bill.


          3)Make other non-substantive, technical changes.


          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Senate Appropriations  
          Committee, this bill may have the following fiscal impact:


          1)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  








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            fewer cases discontinued from the CalWORKs program.


          2)One-time costs potentially in excess of $150,000 (General  
            Fund) for automation changes required to effectuate the  
            eligibility changes imposed under this measure.


          3)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 to some  
            degree by grant cost savings resulting from increased earnings  
            or higher rates of sanction.


          COMMENTS:


          CalWORKs:  The CalWORKs program, which is funded, in part,  
          through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families  
          (TANF) block grant, provides monthly income assistance and  
          employment-related services aimed at moving children out of  
          poverty and helping families meet basic needs.  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 12  
          and almost 40% are under age five.


          The average 2015- 16 monthly cash grant for a family of three on  
          CalWORKs (one parent and two children) is $506.55, and the  
          maximum monthly grant amount for a family of three, if the  
          family has no other income and lives in a high-cost county, is  
          $704.  This grant amount puts the annual household income at  
          $8,448 per year, or 42% of poverty.  (Federal Poverty Guidelines  
          for 2015 show that 100% of poverty for a family of three is  
          $20,090 per year.)









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          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  
          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 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  








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


          GOVERNOR'S VETO MESSAGE:


          This bill would remove "deprivation" as one of the eligibility  
          requirements for families applying to the California Work  
          Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program.


          The elimination of this policy and its annual cost should be  
          considered in the budget process.











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          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Myesha Jackson / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089  FN:  
          0002528