The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is California's implementation of the Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF). It provides time-limited cash assistance to families with children.
CalWORKs recipients are automatically eligible to Medi-Cal, and may qualify for CalFresh benefits. Cash benefits are based upon the number of individuals in the family, with any other sources of income taken into consideration. Additionally, cash benefits for the entire month are deposited to an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card during the first 3 days of each month depending on the last number of your case.
Adults in the program are required to participate in a work activity unless determined exempt. Employment services are available to work activity participants including counseling, job preparedness, job development, training, and supportive services such as childcare, transportation, work clothing and tools. Services are also available to address barriers to employment including substance abuse, domestic violence, mental health and legal issues. For more information see Welfare To Work.
Adults under the CalWORKs program are limited to receiving cash benefits for a lifetime cumulative period of 60 months. After 60 months of assistance, the adult will be ineligible for cash assistance and a family's grant will be reduced by the adult's portion of the grant. Fresno County has chosen to provide continuing aid for children after a parent has exhausted their 60-month limit.
For single parents with a child under 6 years old, CalWORKs requires at least 20 hours/week of work activity. For single parents with no children under 6 years old, CalWORKs requires at least 30 hours a week of work activity. For two parent families, at least 35 hours/week. Both parents can meet this requirement if one is in a work activity at least 20 hours per week. However, no federal child care assistance may be paid unless both parents are in work activities for at least 55 hours per week total.
The adult's portion of a family grant will be sanctioned for failure to participate in a work activity without good cause.
CalWORKs Resource Limits
CalWORKs applicants are allowed a maximum of $10,888 in combined personal and real property, not including the value of an exempt primary residence. The property limit is $16,333 if a family member is over the age of 60 or disabled as defined by Social Security rules. Effective July 1, 2023, the value of an automobile is exempt up to a maximum value of $32,045. Any amount in excess of $32,045 is counted in the personal property limit.
CalWORKs recipients have the same property limitations as applicants but are allowed to accrue up to $5,000 in a restricted account to be used expressly for the purchase of a home, a college education for a member of the assistance unit, or business startup costs.