BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES
                               Senator McGuire, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:              AB 2448
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          |Author:   |Burke                                                 |
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          |Version:  |April 6, 2016          |Hearing    | May 10, 2016    |
          |          |                       |Date:      |                 |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:    |No               |
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          |Consultant|Taryn Smith                                           |
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                  Subject:  CalWORKs:  welfare-to-work:  education


            SUMMARY
          
          The bill will authorize a CalWORKs recipient who has not  
          received a high school diploma or its equivalent to participate  
          in a high school equivalency program, as specified, in lieu of  
          participating in a job search or job club, and it would prohibit  
          the county from requiring the recipient to participate in an  
          assessment before the recipient may engage in a high school  
          equivalency program in satisfaction of welfare-to-work  
          requirements.

            
          ABSTRACT
          
          Existing law:

             1)   Establishes the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy  
               Families (TANF) program, which permits states to implement  
               the program under a state plan. (42 USC  601 et seq.)


             2)   Establishes in state law the California Work Opportunity  
               and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program to provide  
               cash assistance and social services for low-income  
               families. Under CalWORKs, each county provides assistance  
               through a combination of state, county and federal TANF  
               funds. (WIC 10530, WIC 11200)








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             3)   Establishes income, asset and real property limits to  
               determine eligibility for CalWORKs program participants,  
               including net income below the Maximum Aid Payment (MAP),  
               based on family size and county of residence.  (WIC 11150  
               to 11160, 11450 et seq.)


             4)   Establishes a 48-month lifetime limit of CalWORKs  
               benefits for eligible adults, which includes a requirement  
               that a recipient must meet federal work requirements for 24  
               months in order to retain eligibility.  (WIC 11454,  
               11322.85)


             5)   Generally requires a recipient of CalWORKs benefits to  
               participate in welfare-to-work activities as a condition of  
               eligibility for aid. (WIC 11320 et seq.)


             6)   Mandates the sequence of employment-related activities a  
               CalWORKs participant must engage in subsequent to the  
               receipt of aid, unless otherwise exempted under Section  
               11320.3.  (WIC 11320.1)


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


             8)   Establishes qualifying welfare-to-work activities to  
               include employment, on-the-job training, community service,  
               adult basic education, and other specified activities. (WIC  
               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)










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          This bill:

          1)Adds participation in a high school equivalency program to the  
            list of permissible welfare-to-work activities a CalWORKs  
            participant is required to engage in after orientation and  
            appraisal, as specified.


          2)Requires that any month in which a CalWORKs recipient  
            participates in a high school equivalency program, as  
            specified, shall not be counted against that recipient's  
            "24-month clock."  


          3)Removes the requirement that assignments to certain  
            educational activities are limited to situations in which the  
            education is needed to become employed. 


          4)Removes the following from the list of one or more  
            welfare-to-work activities a CalWORKs recipient must  
            participate in after the 24-month clock is exhausted;


               a.     Education that is directly related to employment,  
                 for recipients who have not received a high school  
                 diploma or certificate of equivalency, and 


               b.     Satisfactory attendance at a secondary school or a  
                 course of study leading to a certificate of general  
                 equivalence, for recipients who have not completed  
                 secondary school or received such a certificate.


          5)Permits a CalWORKs recipient to participate in a high school  
            equivalency program if it is determined during the appraisal  
            that the recipient not yet received his or her high school  
            diploma or its equivalent, as specified. 


          6)Exempts a CalWORKs recipient who is determined to not have yet  









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            received his or her high school diploma or its equivalent from  
            having to participate in an assessment prior to, or as a  
            condition of, participation in a high school equivalency  
            program. 


            FISCAL IMPACT
          
          This bill has been keyed as non-fiscal.


            BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION
          
          Purpose of the bill:

          According to the author, AB 2448 intends to alleviate the  
          pressure facing CalWORKs participants who are under the 24-month  
          clock, and specifically for those working towards high school  
          equivalency.  Under current law, recipients would have to obtain  
          high school equivalency while under the 24-month clock and find  
          employment or risk penalties.  To mitigate this time restraint,  
          this bill will guarantee a pre-assessment period where the  
          24-month clock is not activated as long as the participant is  
          making sufficient progress toward high school equivalency, per  
          the author.  

          CalWORKs

          According to the U.S. Census Bureau, California's poverty rate  
          during 2011-13 was 23.4 percent. This rate was measured by using  
          the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account  
          housing costs and other factors. The Census Bureau also reports  
          that more than 2 million of California children were living in  
          poverty in 2014. 

          California's most essential anti-poverty strategy is the  
          CalWORKs program, which provides cash assistance to  
          approximately 540,000 families - including more than 1 million  
          children, according to 2014 federal data. The 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 TANF block grant. In addition to temporary cash  
          assistance to meet basic family needs, CalWORKs provides  









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          education, employment and training programs. CDSS is the  
          designated state agency responsible for program supervision at  
          the state level.  The counties are responsible for administering  
          the caseloads at the local level.  The CalWORKs program is  
          funded with a mix of federal, state, and county funds. 

          In order to be eligible for CalWORKs, families must meet income  
          and asset tests. In addition, children must be deprived of  
          parental support and care due to the incapacity, death or  
          absence of apparent or unemployment of the principal  
          wage-earner.  Persons fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody or  
          confinement after conviction of a felony are not eligible for  
          CalWORKs. Per the 2016-2017 Governor's budget, the average  
          monthly grant for a CalWORKs household is $497.35 and the  
          maximum aid payment for a family of three is $704, or 42 percent  
          of Federal Poverty Level.

          Welfare-to-Work Requirements 

          State law provides for a cumulative 48-month lifetime limit on  
          cash aid for adults.  During those 48 months, adults may receive  
          a total of 24 months of Welfare-to-Work (WTW) services and  
          activities.  WTW activities include subsidized and unsubsidized  
          employment, community service, adult basic education, community  
          college, job skills, training, mental health counseling,  
          substance abuse treatment and other activities necessary to  
          assist recipients in obtaining employment. 

          Unless they are exempt, an adult in a one parent assistance unit  
          is required to participate in WTW activities for an average of  
          30 hours per week during the month or an average of 20 hours per  
          week for a parent with a child under age six.  In a two-parent  
          assistance unit, one or both adults must participate in WTW  
          activities for a combined average of 35 hours per week. 

          Once the 24 months of WTW activities have been exhausted, adults  
          must meet the stricter federal work participation requirements  
          (20, 30, or 35 hours weekly, depending on family composition)  
          unless they are exempt or receive an extension. If a CalWORKs  
          recipient who is not exempt from participation does not meet the  
          welfare-to-work requirements, the recipient may be sanctioned,  
          and that recipient's portion of the family's grant may be  
          subtracted from the amount provided to the family.










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          Educational attainment
          
          According to a report issued by US Department of Labor's Bureau  
          of Labor Statistics, in 2014, 18.3 percent of the working poor  
          had not obtained a high school diploma and 8.3 percent of the  
          working poor had obtained a high school diploma, but no college  
          education.<1>  In a separate report by the Bureau of Labor  
          Statistics, the average weekly income for a worker with less  
          than a high school diploma in 2015 was $493.  The same report  
          shows high school graduates earning $678 per week. Additionally,  
          unemployment rates for a worker with less than a high school  
          diploma were about 8%, which was almost double that of the  
          national average. <2>


          Related legislation:

          AB 1994 (Lopez) creates the CalED program to provide a onetime  
          $500 supplement to eligible CalWORKs participants upon  
          successful completion of a high school equivalency examination. 

          AB 2058 (Mayes) creates the CalWORKs Educational Opportunity and  
          Attainment Program and awards grant increases to CalWORKs  
          recipients upon completion of educational limestones, as  
          specified.   

            COMMENTS
          
          This bill currently eliminates some educational options from the  
          current list of one or more WTW activities a recipient must  
          participate in after the 24 month time clock is exhausted.  This  
          was reportedly a drafting error.  Therefore, the following  
          amendments are suggested in order to correct unintended and  
          technical drafting errors and to reinstate existing law. 

          On page 5, line 22: 

          (s)  Assignment   to   an   educational   activity   identified  
          ---------------------------

          <1> http://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/working-poor/2014/home.htm


          <2> http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm









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          in subdivisions (k), (m),  and  (o)  , and (p)  is limited to those  
 
          situations in which the education is needed to become employed.


          On page 6, line 21: 

          (J)  Education directly related to employment  , in the case of a  
 
          recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a  
 
          certificate of high school equivalency

           (K) Satisfactory attendance at a secondary school or in a  
 
          course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence,  
 
          in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary  
 
          school or received such a certificate  .

           (K)   (L)  The provision of child care services to an individual  
 
          who is participating in a community service program.






            PRIOR VOTES
          
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          |Assembly Floor:                                            |76 - |
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          |Assembly Human Services Committee:                         |6 -  |
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            POSITIONS









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          Support:  
               County Welfare Directors Association of California(Sponsor)
               California Catholic Conference, Inc.
               Alameda County Board of Supervisors

          Oppose:
               None received. 


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