BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     AB 433


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          Date of Hearing:  May 13, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                                 Jimmy Gomez, Chair


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


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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          Yes


          SUMMARY:


          This bill temporarily maintains CalWORKs eligibility and grant  
          levels for a parent who experiences the loss of a child.  
          Specifically, this bill:








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          1)Prohibits applying a sanction for a grieving parent's failure  
            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  
            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.


           FISCAL EFFECT:


          1)On-going costs, likely less than $70,000 (GF) annually, to  
            provide grant aid to affected families in the month of the  
            child's death and the month after, that otherwise would not  
            have been provided. 


          2)Unknown, likely minor, increased grant costs for sanctions not  








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            applied in the month of the child's death and the month after.  
            Counties can currently provide a good cause exemption to avoid  
            imposing sanctions, so it is unlikely these sanctions occur  
            often under existing law.


          3)Unknown automation costs to DSS to implement the changes.

          4)Unknown, potentially reimbursable, but likely minor,  
            administrative and other costs to counties associated  
            providing information and extending child-only cases that  
            otherwise would have been halted.


          


          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose. 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.



            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 may face.









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          2)Background:  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.  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.



            Unless they are exempt, single parent adults must participate  
            for at least 30 hours per week in welfare-to-work activities,  
            and two-parent families must participate for at least 35 hours  
            per week.  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.





            Currently, counties are required to excuse CalWORKs recipients  
            from participation in a welfare-to-work activity 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.  












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            Reasons a county may grant a good cause exemption include a  
            lack of necessary supportive services, the recipient's status  
            as a victim of domestic violence, and the lack of access to  
            child care. Because statute does not limit the reasons for an  
            exemption, counties could grant a good cause exemption for a  
            parent who has suffered the loss of a child.  However, nothing  
            requires a county to do so.


            DSS does not have data on the number of children who die each  
            year while on CalWORKs.  However, California's child mortality  
            rate is 14/100,000, and studies indicate that low-income  
            children die at higher rates than other children. There are  
            approximately one million children on CalWORKs in California  
            who receive an average monthly grant of $128. Assuming a  
            mortality rate of up to twice the state rate, up to 280  
            children would die each year.  Providing 280 families a grant  
            of $128 for two months would cost approximately $70,000.





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