BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                             Senator Ricardo Lara, Chair
                            2015 - 2016  Regular  Session

          AB 433 (Chu) - Public social services:  CalWORKs
          
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          |Version: March 26, 2015         |Policy Vote: HUMAN S. 5 - 0     |
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          |Urgency: No                     |Mandate: Yes                    |
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          |Hearing Date: August 17, 2015   |Consultant: Jolie Onodera       |
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          This bill meets the criteria for referral to the Suspense File.




          Bill  
          Summary:  AB 433 would maintain CalWORKs grant levels for up to  
          two months for a parent who experiences the loss of a child in  
          the assistance unit, as specified. 


          Fiscal  
          Impact:  
           Ongoing increase in CalWORKs grant costs, potentially in the  
            range of $60,000 to $110,000 (General Fund) annually, to  
            provide grant aid to affected families in the month of the  
            child's death and one month thereafter, that otherwise would  
            not have been provided and/or recovered through the  
            overpayment collection process.
           Likely minor, if any, increased CalWORKs grant costs (General  
            Fund) due to the prohibition on sanctioning a grieving parent  
            in the month of the child's death and the month thereafter. As  







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            counties can currently provide a good cause exemption to avoid  
            imposing sanctions, it is estimated that sanctions occur  
            infrequently under existing law.
           One-time minor, absorbable costs (General Fund) associated  
            with any automation changes necessary to effectuate the  
            provisions of this measure.
           Potentially state reimbursable, but likely minor,  
            administration and services costs (General Fund) to counties  
            associated with assisting these families as prescribed in this  
            measure.


          Background:  Existing federal law establishes the Temporary Assistance for  
          Needy Families (TANF) program to provide cash aid and  
          welfare-to-work services to eligible low-income families and, in  
          California, administers TANF funds through the California Work  
          Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program. 
          Under existing law, cash assistance under the CalWORKs program  
          is paid to each qualified family, which includes all eligible  
          brothers and sisters of each eligible applicant or recipient  
          child and the parents of the children. 


          CalWORKs program requirements include participation in specified  
          welfare-to-work activities unless certain circumstances are  
          present. When an individual fails or refuses to comply with  
          specified components of the program without good cause, the  
          individual is subject to prescribed sanctions such as reduction  
          in the CalWORKs family grant amount.


          Under existing law, an aided parent may be eligible for a good  
          cause exemption from welfare-to-work requirements upon the death  
          of a child in the family, however, such an exemption must be  
          requested and is applicable at the discretion of the county.  
          This bill seeks to ensure all families are exempt from sanction  
          and potential loss of grant aid until the end of the month  
          following the death of the child.  




          Proposed Law:  
           This bill would provide for the following benefits to a  







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          CalWORKs recipient who experiences the loss of a child in the  
          assistance unit:

                 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, or the following month.
                 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.


                 Defines "grieving parent" 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.


                 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.


                 Prohibits a county from establishing an overpayment for  
               aid granted under the provisions of this bill unless the  
               county would have sought recovery even if the child had not  
               died.




          Related  
          Legislation:  None applicable.


          Staff  
          Comments:  By maintaining CalWORKs grant levels for up to two  
          months for recipient families in which a child death has  







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          occurred and prohibiting counties from deeming such aid as  
          overpayments, this bill could result in an increase in CalWORKs  
          program costs. For those families consisting of more than one  
          aided child in the assistance unit, this bill would result in  
          additional costs applicable to the grant level associated with  
          the deceased child. For families consisting of only one aided  
          child in the household, this bill could result in maintenance of  
          the full family grant and administration costs, as the entire  
          family would have otherwise been discontinued from CalWORKs  
          eligibility in the absence of an eligible child in the  
          assistance unit, and any grant payments issued would have been  
          subject to overpayment recovery. 
          Staff notes that while the provisions of this bill do not  
          directly extend eligibility for the CalWORKs program under the  
          specified circumstances (as a family is not eligible to maintain  
          benefits under federal TANF and state rules in the absence of an  
          eligible child), prohibiting the ability of a county to  
          establish and collect overpayments for these cases will result  
          in increased CalWORKs program costs.


          While the exact number of child deaths that occur within  
          CalWORKs families on an annual basis is unknown, it is estimated  
          that the number is not large. Based on an estimated child  
          mortality rate of 14 deaths per 100,000 children (The Henry J.  
          Kaiser Family Foundation, Rate of Child Deaths (1-14) per  
          100,000 Children, 2011), assuming 140 CalWORKs families (based  
          on an estimated 1 million aided children in the CalWORKs  
          program) were provided with an additional two months of grant  
          costs would result in annual grant costs ranging from $60,000 to  
          $110,000 (General Fund), assuming 54 percent of impacted cases  
          would also otherwise be discontinued from CalWORKs eligibility  
          due to the absence of an eligible child. To the extent the  
          number of CalWORKs families affected each year by the provisions  
          of this measure is higher or lower would impact costs  
          accordingly. 


          This bill 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,  
          or the following month. As counties can currently provide a good  
          cause exemption to avoid imposing sanctions, it is estimated  
          that sanctions occur infrequently under existing law and  







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          therefore, this provision would likely result in minor, if any,  
          increase in CalWORKs program costs.

          The Department of Social Services has indicated any costs  
          associated with automation changes required to effectuate the  
          provisions of this measure would be minor and absorbable.


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