BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                                                                     AB 433


                                                                     Page A


          Date of Hearing:   April 28, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES


                                  Kansen Chu, Chair


          AB 433  
          (Chu) - As Amended March 26, 2015


          SUBJECT:  Public social services:  CalWORKs


          SUMMARY:  Temporarily maintains CalWORKs eligibility and grant  
          levels for a parent who experiences the loss of a child.


          Specifically, this bill:


          1)Prohibits applying a sanction for a grieving parent's failure  
            or refusal to comply with program requirements during the  
            month in which a child in the CalWORKs assistance unit dies  
            and the following month.


          2)Requires a county, upon receiving notification of the death of  
            a child in the assistance unit, to assist a grieving parent in  
            accessing other services for which the parent may be eligible  
            and provide information to the parent about mental health  
            services, including services provided by the county human  
            services agency, if appropriate.


          3)Defines grieving parent, for purposes of this bill, as an  
            aided adult who is required to participate in welfare-to-work  











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            activities and who experiences the death of a child in the  
            assistance unit.


          4)Maintains an assistance unit's CalWORKs grant amount for the  
            month in which a child in the assistance unit dies and the  
            following month.  Provides that aid continued for an  
            assistance unit under these circumstances shall not be deemed  
            an overpayment unless the county determines that the  
            assistance unit would have otherwise been subject to  
            overpayment recovery, as specified, if the child hadn't died.


          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 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 around 40% of the Federal  
            Poverty Level.  (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)Requires all individuals over 16 years of age, unless they are  
            otherwise exempt, to participate in welfare-to-work activities  











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            as a condition of eligibility for CalWORKs.  (WIC 11320.3,  
            11322.6)

          5)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)

          6)Requires a county to excuse a CalWORKs recipient from  
            welfare-to-work participation for good cause when the county  
            has determined the recipient has a condition or is faced with  
            a circumstance that temporarily prevents or significantly  
            impairs the recipient's ability to be regularly employed or to  
            participate in welfare-to-work activities.  Further requires a  
            county welfare department to review a good cause determination  
            to establish its continuing appropriateness, as specified, no  
            less than every three months, and requires a recipient that  
            has been granted good cause to provide information to the  
            county, including written documentation, as required, to  
            complete the review.  (WIC 11320.3(f))

          7)Subjects an individual receiving CalWORKs benefits to a  
            financial sanction, as specified, when he or she does not meet  
            program requirements without good cause, and establishes a  
            corrective action process, which includes communication  
            between the county and the individual.  (WIC 11327.4, 11327.5)

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          COMMENTS:


          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  











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          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.  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 almost 40% are  
          under age five.


          Maximum grant amounts in high-cost counties of $704 per month  
          for a family of three with no other income means $23.46 per day,  
          per family, or $7.82 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 $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.  


          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 and services  
          for up to a maximum of 24 months, adults without an exemption  
          must work in unsubsidized employment or participate in community  











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          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.


          Good cause exemptions:  Currently, counties are required to  
          excuse CalWORKs recipients from participation in a  
          welfare-to-work activity or from meeting certain program  
          requirements if the county determines that a condition or other  
          circumstance exists that temporarily prevents or significantly  
          impairs a recipient's ability to be regularly employed or to  
          participate in welfare-to-work activities.  Some of the  
          circumstances that may cause a county to grant a good cause  
          exemption, which are defined in statute, include a lack of  
          necessary supportive services, the recipient's status as a  
          victim of domestic violence if meeting certain program  
          requirements would put that recipient or children in the family  
          at risk of harm, and the lack of access to child care, including  
          a lack of suitable care for a child with special needs.  Because  
          statute does not limit the reasons for an exemption to what is  
          on this list, counties could potentially grant good cause today  
          for a parent who has suffered the loss of a child.  However,  
          because statute only requires the good cause exemption to be  
          granted upon determination by the county that a particular  
          condition or circumstance exists that limits a recipient's  
          ability to work, counties currently have the ability to not  
          grant an exemption after a parent has experienced this kind of  
          tragedy if they don't believe the parent's ability to work is  
          limited.


          Furthermore, because there is no automatic exemption provided  
          for in law when a parent is unable to participate in  
          welfare-to-work activities due to the death of a child, parents  
          are required to request an exemption through filling out a  
          standard, statewide form.  While the form might help the county  











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          maintain a record of the request, it requires a parent who has  
          just suffered the loss of a child to reach out to the county  
          office to request an exemption, without knowing whether one will  
          be granted, and to confirm that they are physically or mentally  
          incapable of working by checking a box on the form.


          Need for this bill:  According to the author, this bill is a  
          necessary step toward assisting a relatively small number of  
          families with a temporarily consistent level of resources that  
          will help them remain as stable as possible during a time of  
          family tragedy.  Without a guaranteed exemption, a parent in  
          fear of risking aid and services for the rest of his or her  
          family could be required to continue in a work activity without  
          time to grieve, ultimately diminishing the parent's mental  
          health and his or her ability to continue to work in the future,  
          as well as the overall stability of the family.


          A 2005 research study published in The New England Journal of  
          Medicine, cited a correlation between the risk of first  
          psychiatric hospitalization among parents, especially mothers,  
          who lost a child that was under 18 years old.  For mothers, the  
          study revealed that the risks were highest in the first year  
          after losing a child, and the risk decreased with an increased  
          number of children in the family.<1>  By requiring that grieving  
          parents receive information from their counties about mental  
          health services available to them, this bill seeks to address  
          families' mental health needs as quickly as possible and  
          decrease some of the long-term impacts families will undoubtedly  
          face.
          ---------------------------


          <1> Jiong Li, M.D., Ph.D., Thomas Munk Laursen, M.Sc., Dorthe  
          Hansen Precht, M.D., Ph.D., Jrn Olsen, M.D., Ph.D., and Preben  
          Bo Mortensen, M.D., Dr.Med.Sc. "Hospitalization for Mental  
          Illness among Parents after the Death of a Child." New England  
          Journal of Medicine 2005; 352:1190-1196.











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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Western Center on Law and Poverty - sponsor


          California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA)


          California Catholic Conference of Bishops 


          California Immigrant Policy Center


          Coalition of California welfare Rights Organization 


          Courage Campaign 


          Friends Committee on Legislation 


          National Association of Social Workers, CA Chapter (NASW-CA) 




          Opposition













                                                                     AB 433


                                                                     Page H


          None on File.




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