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AB-1140 CalWORKs: eligibility: time limit.(2011-2012)

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AB1140:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2011–2012 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1140


Introduced  by  Assembly Member Donnelly

February 18, 2011


An act to amend Sections 11266.5, 11320.15, and 17021 of, and to amend and repeal Sections 11327.5 and 11454 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1140, as introduced, Donnelly. CalWORKs: eligibility: time limit.
Existing federal law provides for allocation of federal funds through the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant program to eligible states. Existing law provides for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program for the allocation of federal funds received through the TANF program, under which each county provides cash assistance and other benefits to qualified low-income families. Existing law provides that a parent or caretaker relative shall not be eligible for CalWORKs aid when he or she has received aid for a cumulative total of 60 months. Existing law excludes months in which certain conditions exist from being counted as a month of receipt of aid for these purposes.
This bill would revise the requirements for providing aid under the CalWORKs program by replacing the existing time limits on receipt of aid with a 6-month limit, operative 90 days after the effective date of the bill.
Existing law requires every county and every city and county to relieve and support all incompetent, poor, indigent persons, and those incapacitated by age, disease, or accident, lawfully residing in the county or city and county, when those persons are not supported and relieved by their relatives or friends, by their own means, or by state hospitals or other state or private institutions. Under existing law, an individual who is not eligible for CalWORKs aid because of the time limitation, is ineligible for county assistance until all of the children of the individual on whose behalf aid was received, whether or not currently living in the home with the individual, are 18 years of age or older. Existing law also provides that such an individual is ineligible for county assistance if he or she is ineligible for CalWORKs aid due to the imposition of a sanction or penalty.
This bill would extend the provisions for ineligibility for county assistance to a child who is ineligible for CalWORKs aid due to the 6-month time limit required by the bill, or due to the imposition of a sanction or penalty, as specified.
This bill would make various conforming changes and would state the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to conform other CalWORKs program provisions to a 6-month time limit on aid.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 11266.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

11266.5.
 (a) Every applicant for aid under this chapter shall be informed of the availability of lump-sum diversion services to resolve the circumstances that require the family to apply for assistance prior to the family’s approval for aid.
(b) When an applicant is determined to be eligible for assistance under this chapter, the county shall assess whether the applicant would benefit from the lump-sum diversion program. The county shall make this determination in its sole discretion. In making this determination, the county shall consider whether the applicant is likely to be able to avoid the need for extended assistance beyond the diversion period if the family was provided one-time assistance. In making this determination, the county may consider any of the following:
(1) The applicant’s employment history.
(2) The likelihood of the applicant obtaining immediate full-time employment.
(3) The applicant’s general prospect for obtaining full-time employment.
(4) The applicant’s need for cash assistance to pay for housing or substantial and unforseen expenses or work-related expenses.
(5) Housing stability.
(6) The adequacy of the applicant’s child care arrangements, if applicable.
(c) If the county determines, pursuant to subdivision (b), that an applicant could benefit from a lump-sum diversion payment, the county shall inform the applicant of its determination.
(d) An applicant for aid under this chapter may either participate in the lump-sum diversion program or decline participation in diversion and, instead, receive aid as otherwise provided for in this chapter.
(e) Lump-sum diversion services provided under this section may include any cash or noncash payment and shall be negotiated by the county and the applicant in order to assist the applicant in avoiding the need for aid under this chapter.
(f) If, after accepting a diversion payment pursuant to this section, the individual reapplies for aid under this chapter within the amount of time that corresponds with the number of months of aid that would have been received under this chapter that was received as a diversion payment, excluding a partial month, and he or she is determined to be eligible for aid, the county shall, at the option of the recipient, either recoup from the recipient’s grant, over a period of time to be determined by the county, the amount of the diversion payment that the recipient received, or count the period of time that corresponds to the number of months of aid that would have been received, excluding a partial month of aid, towards the 60-month six-month time limit on aid specified in subdivision (b) (a) of Section 11454.
(g) To the extent permitted by federal law, lump-sum diversion payments shall not be considered income for the purpose of determining eligibility for food stamps CalFresh benefits.
(h) Any child support collected by the applicant or recovered by the county shall not be used to offset the diversion payment.
(i) During the period of the diversion, the applicant family shall be eligible for Medi-Cal and child care assistance pursuant to Article 15.5 (commencing with Section 8350) of Chapter 2 of Part 6 of the Education Code, if otherwise eligible.

SEC. 2.

 Section 11320.15 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

11320.15.
 After a participant has received aid for a total of 60 months six months, pursuant to Section 11454, he or she shall be removed from the assistance unit for the purposes of calculation of aid under Section 11450 and he or she shall no longer be required to participate in welfare-to-work activities. Additional welfare-to-work services may be provided to the recipient, at the option of the county. If the county provides services to the recipient after the 60-month six-month limit has been reached, the recipient shall participate in community service.

SEC. 3.

 Section 11327.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as amended by Section 2 of Chapter 8 of the 4th Extraordinary Session of the Statutes of 2009, is amended to read:

11327.5.
 (a) Sanctions shall be imposed in accordance with subdivision (b) or (c), as appropriate, if an individual has failed or refused to comply with program requirements without good cause and conciliation efforts, as described in Section 11327.4, have failed.
(b) The sanctions provided for in subdivisions (c) and (d) shall not apply to an individual who is exempt from the requirements of this article but is voluntarily participating in the program. If that individual engages in conduct that would bring about the actions provided for in subdivisions (c) and (d), except for his or her status as a voluntary program participant, the individual shall not be given priority so long as other individuals are actively seeking to participate.
(c) Financial sanctions for failing or refusing to comply with program requirements without good cause shall cause a reduction in the family’s grant by removing the noncomplying family member from the assistance unit for a period of time specified in subdivision (d).
(1) For families that qualify for aid due to unemployment of the family’s primary wage earner, the sanctioned parent shall be removed from the assistance unit. Unless the spouse or the family’s second parent meets the provisions of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2), if the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent is not participating in the program, both the sanctioned parent and the spouse or second parent shall be removed from the assistance unit. The county shall notify the spouse of the noncomplying participant or second parent in writing at the commencement of conciliation of his or her own opportunity to participate and the impact on sanctions of that participation.
(2) (A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), exemption criteria specified in Section 11320.3, conciliation specified in Section 11327.4, and good cause criteria specified in Section 11320.31 and subdivision (f) of Section 11320.3 shall apply to the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent.
(B) Exemption criteria specified in paragraphs (5) and (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3 do not apply to a spouse or second parent who is participating to avoid the sanction of the noncomplying parent.
(C) If the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent chooses to participate to avoid the noncomplying parent’s sanction, subsequently fails or refuses to participate without good cause, and does not conciliate, he or she shall be removed from the assistance unit for a period of time specified in subdivision (d).
(D) If the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent is under his or her own sanction at the time of the first parent’s sanction, the spouse or second parent shall not be provided the opportunity to avoid the first parent’s sanction until the spouse or second parent’s sanction is completed.
(3) For families that qualify due to the absence or incapacity of a parent, only the noncomplying parent shall be removed from the assistance unit.
(4) If the noncomplying individual is the only dependent child in the family, his or her needs shall not be taken into account in determining the family’s need for assistance and the amount of the assistance payment.
(5) If the noncomplying individual is one of several dependent children in the family, his or her needs shall not be taken into account in determining the family’s need for assistance and the amount of the assistance payment.
(d) An instance of noncompliance without good cause shall result in a financial sanction. This sanction shall terminate at any point if the noncomplying participant performs the activity or activities he or she previously refused to perform.
(e) Sanctions shall become effective on the first day of the first payment-month that the sanctioned individual’s needs are removed from aid under this chapter.
(f) In the event this section conflicts with federal law, the department shall adopt regulations to conform to federal law.

(g)This section shall remain in effect only until July 1, 2011, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 4.

 Section 11327.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as added by Section 3 of Chapter 8 of the 4th Extraordinary Session of the Statutes of 2009, is repealed.
11327.5.

(a)Sanctions shall be imposed in accordance with subdivision (b) or (c), as appropriate, if an individual has failed or refused to comply with program requirements without good cause and conciliation efforts, as described in Section 11327.4, have failed.

(b)The sanctions provided for in subdivisions (c) and (d) shall not apply to an individual who is exempt from the requirements of this article but is voluntarily participating in the program. If that individual engages in conduct that would bring about the actions provided for in subdivisions (c) and (d), except for his or her status as a voluntary program participant, the individual shall not be given priority so long as other individuals are actively seeking to participate.

(c)Financial sanctions for failing or refusing to comply with program requirements without good cause shall cause a reduction in the family’s grant, in accordance with subdivision (d).

(1)For families that qualify for aid due to unemployment of the family’s primary wage earner, the sanctioned parent shall be removed from the assistance unit. Unless the spouse or the family’s second parent meets the provisions of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (2), if the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent is not participating in the program, both the sanctioned parent and the spouse or second parent shall be removed from the assistance unit. The county shall notify the spouse of the noncomplying participant or second parent in writing at the commencement of conciliation of his or her own opportunity to participate and the impact on sanctions of that participation.

(2)(A)Except as provided in subparagraph (B), exemption criteria specified in Section 11320.3, conciliation specified in Section 11327.4, and good cause criteria specified in Section 11320.31 and subdivision (f) of Section 11320.3 shall apply to the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent.

(B)Exemption criteria specified in paragraphs (5) and (6) of subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3 do not apply to a spouse or second parent who is participating to avoid the sanction of the noncomplying parent.

(C)If the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent chooses to participate to avoid the noncomplying parent’s sanction, subsequently fails or refuses to participate without good cause, and does not conciliate, he or she shall be removed from the assistance unit for a period of time specified in subdivision (d).

(D)If the sanctioned parent’s spouse or the family’s second parent is under his or her own sanction at the time of the first parent’s sanction, the spouse or second parent shall not be provided the opportunity to avoid the first parent’s sanction until the spouse or second parent’s sanction is completed.

(3)For families that qualify due to the absence or incapacity of a parent, only the noncomplying parent shall be removed from the assistance unit.

(4)If the noncomplying individual is the only dependent child in the family, his or her needs shall not be taken into account in determining the family’s need for assistance and the amount of the assistance payment.

(5)If the noncomplying individual is one of several dependent children in the family, his or her needs shall not be taken into account in determining the family’s need for assistance and the amount of the assistance payment.

(d)(1)An instance of noncompliance without good cause shall result in a financial sanction, consisting of removing the noncomplying family member from the assistance unit, after the noncompliance persists for three cumulative months. The conciliation process described in Section 11327.4 shall occur during the first 30 days of this three-month period. A sanction under this section shall terminate at any point if the noncomplying participant performs the activity or activities he or she previously refused to perform.

(2)(A)If the instance of noncompliance persists for three cumulative months, the county shall review and assess the circumstances of the noncomplying individual in order to determine and identify potential barriers to participation, assess the need for services or resources, and provide tools to connect the individual with services and activities. The review and assessment shall be conducted by a social worker or employment services worker. The county shall make a good faith effort to remediate any barriers that are identified. If barriers relating to substance abuse, mental health, or domestic violence are suspected, the county shall schedule assessments with an employment specialist or social worker for the individual in order to assess and review for treatment. This review shall occur within 30 days after the grant reduction made pursuant to paragraph (1).

(B)If the county fails to conduct a review or remediate any issues pursuant to this paragraph, or if the county determines that the individual is in compliance pursuant to paragraph (1), or is exempt from welfare-to-work requirements, the sanction shall terminate. If failure to conduct a review or remediate an issue is the result of the recipient’s noncompliance, the sanction shall continue.

(3)(A)If the instance of noncompliance persists for an additional three cumulative months after a grant reduction is made pursuant to paragraph (1), the grant shall be decreased by an amount equal to 25 percent of the child-only grant, which already reflects the removal of the parent.

(B)If the instance of noncompliance persists for an additional three cumulative months after the family’s grant is reduced under subparagraph (A), a second review and assessment shall be conducted in accordance with the requirements of paragraph (2). The second review and assessment shall be conducted within 30 days of the most recent grant reduction pursuant to subparagraph (A). After the review and assessment conducted under this paragraph, if the instance of noncompliance persists for an additional three cumulative months after the most recent reduction, the family’s aid grant shall be decreased by an amount equal to 50 percent of the child-only grant level that existed prior to the 25-percent reduction.

(C)At any time, if the noncomplying member is determined to be exempt, or comes into compliance with applicable CalWORKs work requirements, the sanction shall terminate and the full aid grant amount shall be restored.

(4)(A)With respect to an assistance unit from which the adult’s share of the grant has been terminated due to the expiration of the 60-month period provided for pursuant to Section 11454, the county shall impose the sanctions provided for in this section only if the county makes available to the adult necessary child care services, and all applicable exemptions. If the Legislature has made a specific appropriation for transportation services for families who have exceeded the 60-month time limit and the county has not made this service available to the adult, as necessary, a sanction shall not be imposed. These cases shall receive a review pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 11320.2 at the 42nd or 54th month of aid in preparation for this assessment by the county, including reviewing possible exemptions and discussing possible grant reductions if the family is not in compliance after the 60 months with the state participation requirements, as determined by the county. The individual shall receive notice of the review, which shall include informing the individual of the risk of having the grant further reduced by 25 percent if the parent does not comply with CalWORKs requirements after the 48th or 60th month on aid, as well as opportunities to come into compliance and services that may be available from the county.

(B)If the county determines after the 48th or 60th month on aid that the adult is not in compliance and does not otherwise meet exemption criteria, such as SSI eligibility or being an elderly caregiver, and the service requirements of the county as specified in subparagraph (A) have been met, then the aid grant shall be decreased by an amount equal to 25 percent of the child-only portion of the grant, thus resulting in a grant level equal to 75 percent of the child-only grant level in the 47th or 59th month, or the month prior to entering the safety net. Review and assessment pursuant to paragraph (2) shall be scheduled with the adult in this assistance unit at this time.

(C)If the noncompliance persists for three cumulative months after the grant reduction pursuant to subparagraph (B) the review and assessment conducted pursuant to paragraph (2), and the county has met the service requirements specified in subparagraph (A), then the aid grant shall be decreased by an amount equal to 50 percent of the child-only aid grant thus resulting in a grant level equal to 50 percent of the child-only grant level in the 47th or 59th month, or the month prior to entering the safety net.

(D)At any time, if the noncomplying member is determined to be exempt from welfare-to-work activities, or comes into compliance with applicable CalWORKs work requirements, the sanction shall terminate and the full aid grant amount shall be restored.

(5)(A)After 60 full months of aid, with respect to an assistance unit for which there is no adult share due to the adult being (i) not lawfully present in the United States, (ii) a person described by Section 608(a)(9)(A) of Title 42 of the United States Code, or (iii) convicted of any offense classified as a felony by the law of the jurisdiction involved and that has as an element of the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance, as defined in Section 802(6) of Title 21 of the United States Code, the county shall apply the sanction provisions contained in subparagraph (B) to the assistance unit allowing for all applicable exemptions. If the county makes available to the adult, at county expense or pursuant to a specific General Fund appropriation, necessary supportive services of child care and transportation, in addition to community service opportunities, and the family is in compliance with work requirements the family shall receive the full child-only grant. These cases shall receive a self-sufficiency review pursuant to subdivision (g) of Section 11320.2 at the 54th month of aid, in preparation for this assessment by the county, including reviewing possible exemptions, and discussing possible grant reductions if the family is not in compliance with the state participation requirements after 60 months, as determined by the county.

(B)If the county determines after the 60 months of aid that the adult does not otherwise meet exemption criteria, including those that acknowledge the adult’s inability to work, such as SSI eligibility or being an elderly caregiver, and the service requirements of the county as specified in subparagraph (A) have been met, then the aid grant shall be decreased by an amount equal to 25 percent of the child-only portion of the grant amount, thus resulting in a grant level equal to 75 percent of the child-only grant level in the 59th month or the month prior to entering the safety net. Review and assessment pursuant to paragraph (2) shall be scheduled with the adult in this assistance unit at this time.

(C)If the noncompliance persists for three cumulative months after the review and assessment conducted pursuant to paragraph (2), and the service requirements of the county as specified in subparagraph (A) have been met, the family’s aid grant shall be decreased to an amount equal to 50 percent of the child-only portion of the grant amount, thus resulting in a grant level equal to 50 percent of the child-only grant level in the 59th month prior to entering the safety net.

(D)At any time, if the noncomplying member is determined to be exempt from welfare-to-work activities, or comes into compliance with applicable CalWORKs work requirements, the sanction shall terminate and the full aid grant amount shall be restored.

(e)Sanctions shall become effective on the first day of the first payment-month that the sanctioned individual’s needs are removed or further reductions are made to aid under this chapter.

(f)The additional monetary sanctions imposed in subdivision (d) shall not apply if the only sanctioned individual in the family is a dependent child.

(g)The county shall send individuals subject to sanction a notice by the end of their second cumulative month on sanction, and a notice by the end of their fifth cumulative month on sanction, reminding them that their aid will further decrease if the sanction is not cured by the end of the third or sixth month, respectively.

(h)In addition to the notice required pursuant to subdivision (d), counties shall attempt to contact the noncompliant individual prior to imposing a sanction reducing the family’s aid. This contact may be achieved through telephone calls, letters, home visits, or some combination of these methods.

(i)The review and assessment described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) shall be deemed to satisfy the requirements for a self-sufficiency review pursuant to Section 11320.2 if the review and assessment occurs within the same month that a self-sufficiency review under Section 11320.2 would have been scheduled. If failure to conduct the review or assessment is the result of the recipient’s noncompliance, the sanction or further reduction shall become effective under this chapter.

(j)Any review or assessment required under this section may be conducted through face-to-face meetings or home visits.

(k)This section shall become operative on July 1, 2011.

SEC. 5.

 Section 11454 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as amended by Section 5 of Chapter 8 of the 4th Extraordinary Session of the Statutes of 2009, is amended to read:

11454.
 (a) A parent or caretaker relative shall not be eligible for aid under this chapter when he or she has received aid under this chapter or from any state under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (Part A (commencing with Section 401) of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 601 et seq.) for a cumulative total of 60 six months.
(b) No month in which aid has been received prior to January 1, 1998, shall be taken into consideration in computing the 60-month six-month limitation provided for in subdivision (a).
(c) Subdivision (a) shall not be applicable when all parent or caretaker relatives of the aided child who are living in the home of the child meet any of the following requirements:
(1) They are 60 years of age or older.
(2) They meet one of the conditions specified in paragraph (4) or (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3.
(3) They are not included in the assistance unit.
(4) They are receiving benefits under Section 12200 or Section 12300, State Disability Insurance benefits or Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Insurance, if the disability significantly impairs the recipient’s ability to be regularly employed or participate in welfare-to-work activities.
(5) They are incapable of maintaining employment or participating in welfare-to-work activities, as determined by the county, based on the assessment of the individual and the individual has a history of participation and full cooperation in welfare-to-work activities.

(d)This section shall remain in effect only until July 1, 2011, and as of that date is repealed.

SEC. 6.

 Section 11454 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, as added by Section 6 of Chapter 8 of the 4th Extraordinary Session of the Statutes of 2009, is repealed.
11454.

(a)A parent or caretaker relative shall not be eligible for aid under this chapter when he or she has received aid under this chapter or from any state under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (Part A (commencing with Section 401) of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 601 et seq.) for a cumulative total of 60 months.

(b)No month in which aid has been received prior to January 1, 1998, shall be taken into consideration in computing the 60-month limitation provided for in subdivision (a), or the 48-month limitation provided for in subdivision (e).

(c)Subdivision (a) shall not be applicable when all parent or caretaker relatives of the aided child who are living in the home of the child meet any of the following requirements:

(1)They are 60 years of age or older.

(2)They meet one of the conditions specified in paragraph (4) or (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 11320.3.

(3)They are not included in the assistance unit.

(4)They are receiving benefits under Section 12200 or Section 12300, State Disability Insurance benefits or Workers’ Compensation Temporary Disability Insurance, if the disability significantly impairs the recipient’s ability to be regularly employed or participate in welfare-to-work activities.

(5)They are incapable of maintaining employment or participating in welfare-to-work activities, as determined by the county, based on the assessment of the individual and the individual has a history of participation and full cooperation in welfare-to-work activities.

(d)A month in which an individual is under sanction for noncompliance pursuant to Section 11327.5 shall be taken into consideration in computing the 60-month time limit on receipt of cash assistance pursuant to subdivision (a), but shall not be counted for purposes of the receipt of welfare-to-work services pursuant to Section 11320.

(e)The 60-month benefit limit provided for in subdivision (a) shall apply, except that aid may not be received for more than 48 cumulative months in any 60-month period. The adult may return to the assistance unit 12 months after receiving aid for the 48 cumulative months. In the absence of a sanction pursuant to Section 11327.5, the full grant shall be restored at the time the adult returns to the assistance unit.

(f)This section shall become operative on July 1, 2011.

(g)Counties shall notify families of the reduction in time limitations specified in this section, within a reasonable time following the effective date of this section.

SEC. 7.

 Section 17021 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

17021.
 (a) Any individual who is not eligible for aid under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 as a result of the 60-month six-month limitation specified in subdivision (a) of Section 11454 shall not be eligible for aid or assistance under this part until all of the children of the individual on whose behalf aid was received, whether or not currently living in the home with the individual, are 18 years of age or older.
(b) Any individual who is receiving aid under Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 11200) of Part 3 on behalf of an eligible child, but who is either ineligible for aid or whose needs are not otherwise taken into account in determining the amount of aid to the family pursuant to Section 11450 due to the imposition of a sanction or penalty, shall not be eligible for aid or assistance under this part.
(c) This section shall not apply to health care benefits provided under this part.

SEC. 8.

 (a) It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this act to establish a six-month time limit in the receipt of CalWORKs benefits.
(b) It is the further intent of the Legislature to enact legislation to conform existing law to this six-month time limit, in areas including, but not limited to, reporting procedures, self-sufficiency reviews, and coordination with the provision of CalFresh benefits.

SEC. 9.

 The changes made to the Welfare and Institutions Code by this act shall become operative 90 days after the effective date of the act.