BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:   April 14, 2015


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES


                                  Kansen Chu, Chair


          AB 743  
          (Eggman) - As Amended April 9, 2015


          SUBJECT:  CalWORKs:  eligibility:  work activities


          SUMMARY:  Establishes the CalWORKs Self-Sufficiency through  
          Education and GI Bill Exemption Act of 2015.


          Specifically, this bill: 


          1)Ensures education, training, vocation or rehabilitation  
            benefits, and related allowances provided through the United  
            States Department of Veterans Affairs, as specified, are not  
            considered as income or property for purposes of determining  
            CalWORKs eligibility or grant levels.



          2)Provides that individuals participating in a self-initiated  
            program leading to employment, as specified, are not required  
            to participate in job search activities.



          3)Requires a county, upon determining that a welfare-to-work  
            plan assessment is necessary for a person participating in an  








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            approved self-initiated program, as specified, to schedule the  
            assessment at a time that does not interfere in any way with  
            the person's self-initiated program, employment, or child care  
            obligations, and requires supportive services to continue for  
            that person until the assessment has been completed.



          4)Provides that satisfactory progress in an assigned education  
            or training activity shall be defined by the institution  
            administering the education or training activity.



          5)Provides that satisfactory progress in an undergraduate degree  
            or certificate program that leads to employment shall be  
            defined by the educational institution.



          6)Exempts a person enrolled in postsecondary school, as  
            specified, from CalWORKs job club and job search requirements,  
            as defined.



          7)Provides that either a county welfare department or a local  
            education agency or provider can identify a self-initiated  
            program as leading to employment.  Deletes the requirement  
            that a county annually agree to a list of such activities, and  
            instead requires a county to approve the list, annually.



          8)Establishes a statewide standard for allowable activities  
            identified as leading to employment by aligning the list of  
            allowable activities used at the county level with the list  
            used by the Employment Development Department.









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          9)Allows study time, as defined by the educational institution a  
            person is attending, to be counted toward the minimum number  
            of hours of welfare-to-work participation that are required,  
            as specified.



          10)Deletes language that only authorizes supportive services  
            reimbursement for participation in a self-initiated training  
            or education program when no other source of funding for those  
            costs is available.



          11)Requires child care supportive services to be continued, for  
            a period not to exceed six weeks, when hours of educational or  
            vocational training are reduced due to a break in instruction  
            at an institution and an individual is eligible to continue in  
            the educational or vocational program following the break in  
            instruction.



          12)Excludes any hours of participation in a self-initiated  
            education or training program from the work activity  
            limitations of the CalWORKs 24-month time clock.



          13)Removes self-initiated programs from consideration among  
            assigned program activities when determining whether a person  
            has failed or refused to comply with program requirements.



          14)Prohibits subjecting an individual who is currently  
            participating in a self-initiated program that is reflected in  








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            his or her welfare-to-work plan from being subject to  
            sanctions on the basis of failure or refusal to sign a new  
            welfare-to-work plan if the individual is making satisfactory  
            progress in that program, as defined by the institution  
            administering the program. 
          EXISTING LAW:


          1)Establishes several education programs available to military  
            veterans, including post-9/11 educational assistance, as  
            specified. (38 U.S.C. 3313)


          2)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 CalWORKs program.  (42  
            U.S.C. 601 et seq., WIC 11200 et seq.) 





          3)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 approximately 40% of the Federal  
            Poverty Level.  (WIC 11450, 11150 et seq.)

          4)Prohibits a CalWORKs applicant or recipient's educational  
            expenses from being applied to any educational loans or grants  
            he or she receives that are exempt from consideration as  
            income for purposes of determining CalWORKs eligibility. (WIC  
            11250.8) 

          5)Establishes a 48-month lifetime limit of CalWORKs benefits for  
            eligible adults, including a CalWORKs welfare-to-work 24-month  
            time clock, upon exhaustion of which a recipient must meet  








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            federal work requirements in order to retain eligibility.   
            (WIC 11454, 11322.85) 

          6)Authorizes a recipient subject to the welfare-to-work 24-month  
            time clock to request an extension of those 24 months to  
            continue in an activity in which he or she is engaged,  
            including a self-initiated program that would increase the  
            likelihood of employment, as specified. (WIC 11322.87)

          7)Exempts specified categories of recipients from participation  
            in welfare-to-work activities, including a parent or other  
            adult CalWORKs recipient with primary responsibility for  
            personally providing care to one child from birth to 23  
            months, as specified.  (WIC 11320.3(b))

          8)Requires all individuals over 16 years of age, unless they are  
            otherwise exempt, to participate in welfare-to-work activities  
            as a condition of eligibility for CalWORKs.  (WIC 11320.3,  
            11322.6)

          9)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)

          10)Requires necessary supportive services, including child care,  
            transportation, ancillary costs and personal counseling, as  
            specified, to be available to every CalWORKs participant in  
            order to facilitate his or her participation in the CalWORKs  
            program activity to which he or she is assigned or acceptance  
            of employment.  (WIC 11323.2) 

          11)Makes paid child care available as a supportive service to  
            every CalWORKs participant with a dependent child in the  
            assistance unit who needs paid child care and is under 10  
            years of age or requires child care due to a physical, mental,  
            or developmental disability, or is under court supervision.   
            (WIC 11323.2 (a)(1)(A))









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          12)Requires payments for supportive services to be advanced to  
            CalWORKs participants, as specified, so that a participant  
            does not need to use his or her funds to pay for the  
            supportive services.  (WIC 11323.4)

          13)Requires any individual required to participate in  
            welfare-to-work activities to enter into a written  
            welfare-to-work plan with the county welfare department after  
            an assessment is conducted, as specified. (WIC 11325.21)

          14)Requires all welfare-to-work participants, except those  
            participating in the Cal-Learn Program or engaged in obtaining  
            a high school diploma or its equivalent, to be assigned to  
            participate in job search activities for a period of up to  
            four consecutive weeks following the initial CalWORKs  
            appraisal. (WIC 11325.22)


          15)Establishes the following provisions pertaining to  
            participation in self-initiated education and training  
            programs:

             a)   Permits a student enrolled in any undergraduate degree  
               or certificate program that leads to employment to continue  
               in that program upon commencing CalWORKs aid, provided he  
               or she is making satisfactory progress in the program, the  
               county determines that continuing in the program is likely  
               to lead to self-supporting employment for that recipient,  
               and the welfare-to-work plan reflects that determination;

             b)   Provides that a program shall only be determined to lead  
               to employment if it is on a list of programs that the  
               county welfare department and local education agencies or  
               providers agree lead to employment, and requires the list  
               to be agreed to annually.  Further requires the county to  
               determine whether a program leads to employment if it is  
               not included in the agreed upon list;

             c)   Requires concurrent participation in additional work  








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               activities if participation in educational or vocational  
               training, as determined by the number of hours required for  
               classroom, laboratory, or internship activities, does not  
               fulfil the weekly 30 or 20 hour work requirement, as  
               specified;

             d)   Requires participation in a self-initiated education or  
               vocational training program to be reflected in a  
               recipient's welfare-to-work plan;

             e)   Authorizes a person whose previously approved  
               self-initiated education or training program is interrupted  
               for reasons that meet good cause criteria, as specified, to  
               resume participation in the same program if the participant  
               maintained good standing in the program and the program  
               continues to meet the county approval criteria; and

             f)   Requires supportive services reimbursement to be  
               provided for any participant in a self-initiated  
               educational or training program provided that no other  
               source of funding for those services is available.  (WIC  
               11325.23)

          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  
          grant for a family of three on CalWORKs (one parent and two  
          children) is $506.55.  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 40% are under age  








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          five.


          Average grant amounts of $506.55 per month for a family of three  
          means $16.88 per day, per family, or $5.62 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 $6,078 per  
          year.  Federal Poverty Guidelines for 2015 show that 100% of  
          poverty for a family of three is over three times that at  
          $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 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.









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          Self-initiated programs:  While most parents applying for  
          CalWORKs assistance have gaps in their education or minimal  
          prior job experience, the recent recession resulted in numerous  
          college students and people who had been laid off from their  
          jobs showing up for the first time in county offices to figure  
          out how to make ends meet for their families.  Under current  
          law, a person applying for CalWORKs aid that is already enrolled  
          in an undergraduate or certificate program that will lead to  
          self-sustaining employment can remain in that program provided  
          he or she is making satisfactory progress in the program.  Such  
          programs are referred to as "self-initiated programs" because  
          they are the result of the applicant or recipient engaging in an  
          education or training program without first needing to go  
          through a CalWORKs assessment in order to gauge his or her  
          employment skills and abilities.  While individuals  
          participating in self-initiated programs should be able to  
          develop their welfare-to-work plans in a way that accommodates  
          their current approved activities, the flow of statutory  
          requirements designed to help CalWORKs recipients obtain and  
          maintain employment includes job search activities for a period  
          of up to four weeks for most participants.  Job search  
          activities can provide beneficial, gradual exposure to new  
          working environments for many welfare-to-work participants, but  
          this requirement often interferes with education and training  
          schedules for self-initiated program participants.  


          GI Bill:  Originally signed in 1944 and envisioned, in part, as  
          a means to aid in the transition back to civilian life, GI Bill  
          benefits have been increasingly relied upon to ensure a pathway  
          to education for active military personnel and veterans.  In  
          2008, the GI Bill was updated to give veterans with active duty  
          service on or after September 11, 2001 enhanced educational  
          benefits that provide additional funding for educational  
          expenses, money for books, and a living allowance.  Another  
          feature of the Post-9/11 GI bill is the ability for veterans to  
          transfer any unused educational benefits to their spouses or  
          children, provided they meet certain US Department of Veterans  








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          Affairs requirements.  According to September 2014 estimates  
          from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, California is home  
          to over 1.8 million veterans, which accounts for 12% of the  
          national veteran population of 22 million.  A report prepared  
          for the US Department of Defense revealed that in 2012, there  
          were 155,985 active duty military personnel in California.  


          Need for this bill:  This bill seeks to encourage educational  
          options for low-income parents that will lead to long-term,  
          improved outcomes for themselves and their families.  By  
          removing unnecessary disruptions and barriers to continuing in  
          an education or training program in which a CalWORKs applicant  
          or recipient is making satisfactory progress, this bill will  
          grant more parents access to the education options and support  
          already available to them while avoiding damaging setbacks.   
          Additionally, this bill ensures that statute is clear relative  
          to not factoring GI Bill benefits, including the housing  
          stipend, into income or property calculations for CalWORKs  
          applicants.  By doing so, this bill allows military service  
          members, their spouses and their children to utilize earned  
          benefits without having to forgo receipt of those benefits if  
          they happen to need additional assistance to stabilize their  
          families.


          According to the author, "This bill seeks to help some of our  
          most hard-working students that are fighting to improve their  
          lives as well as their families. There are over 30,000 parents  
          who are improving their future earning potential and the life  
          opportunities of their children by seeking a certificate or  
          degree while participating in welfare-to-work.  Research shows  
          that securing post-secondary degree will improve the likelihood  
          of exiting poverty and reduce reliance on safety net programs.   
          Supporting the success of low-income parents in their academic  
          and employment and training goals not only improves the economic  
          opportunities, but research has shown that it makes their  
          children more likely to finish high school and to seek college  
          opportunities for themselves.  This two-generation approach to  








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          poverty reduction is being recognized nationally as a strategy  
          that works."


          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, Inc.  
          (CCWRO) - sponsor


          Western Center on Law & Poverty (WCLP) -sponsor


          California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA)


          California School Employees Association (CSEA)


          National Association of Social Workers (NASW)-California Chapter  



          


          Opposition





          None on file.








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