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AB-1107 CalWORKs eligibility: domestic violence.(2013-2014)

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AB1107:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 24, 2013

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2013–2014 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1107


Introduced by Assembly Member Garcia

February 22, 2013


An act to amend Section 11495.25 of, and to repeal and add Section 11495.15 of, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to domestic violence.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1107, as amended, Garcia. CalWORKs eligibility: domestic violence.
Existing law requires each county to provide cash assistance and other social services to needy families through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program using federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant program, state, and county funds. Existing law authorizes each county to waive a program requirement at any time for a recipient who is a past or present victim of abuse, as specified.
This bill would require the State Department of Social Services to establish a standard, statewide notice and process to ensure that applicants for, or recipients of, CalWORKs aid who are past or present victims of domestic violence are not placed at further risk or unfairly penalized by program requirements or procedures. The bill would also require, with specified verification, the county to waive, for applicants or recipients, program requirements that make it more difficult for the victim to escape domestic violence, unfairly penalize the victim or family, or place them at further risk or encourage them to remain with the abuser. The bill would require counties to use the standard, statewide notice and process to inform all CalWORKs applicants and recipients of their rights and how to secure a waiver and to review the waivers, as specified. By increasing the duties of county human services agencies, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
Existing law makes sworn statements by a victim of past or present abuse sufficient to establish abuse unless the county human services agency finds the person not credible and allows other specified forms of evidence, including official reports or documentation.
This bill would make a sworn statement by the person sufficient to establish abuse is occurring or has occurred within the past 12 months unless the county human services agency finds the person not credible and other prescribed forms of evidence are not available. The bill would require additional prescribed evidence if the abuse occurred more than 12 months in the past.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 (a) In enacting this act, the Legislature recognizes that some individuals who are in need of public assistance are, or have been, victims of abuse.
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that applicants and recipients who are past or present victims of abuse are not placed at further risk or unfairly penalized by program requirements or procedures.
(c) The Legislature intends that, in implementing this act, a standard, statewide notice to CalWORKs applicants and recipients will be established, informing them of rights for domestic violence victims and survivors and instructing them how to secure these rights, as well as referrals for counseling services.
(d) It is also the intent of the Legislature that program requirements for aid under the CalWORKs program shall not be created or applied in such a way as to make it more difficult for a victim to escape domestic violence or unfairly penalize the victim.
(e) Finally, it is the intent of the Legislature that the county human services agency refer victims of domestic violence to support services, including those provided by the victim’s health care provider.

SEC. 2.

 Section 11495.15 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is repealed.

SEC. 3.

 Section 11495.15 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

11495.15.
 (a) The State Department of Social Services shall establish a standard, statewide notice and process to ensure that applicants for, or recipients of, aid under this chapter who are past or present victims of domestic violence are not placed at further risk or unfairly penalized by program requirements or procedures.
(b) A county shall, with verification provided pursuant to Section 11495.25, waive a program requirement at any time for an applicant or recipient who is a past or present victim of abuse when it has been determined that the requirement makes it more difficult for the victim to escape domestic violence, would unfairly penalize the victim or the victim’s family, places the victim at further risk of abuse, or encourages the victim to remain with the abuser. Waivers When periodic review is necessary due to the nature of the waiver, waivers shall be reevaluated by the county human services agency when necessary, but in no case more often than every six months every six months in order to determine if the conditions under which the waiver was granted still exist. Nothing shall preclude the applicant or recipient from contacting the county earlier than the six month review to request information or seek to participate in welfare to work activities, regardless of whether he or she is waived from the welfare-to-work rules. In order to extend the waiver beyond the first 12 months, the county shall collect evidence of the abuse, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 11495.25.
(c) County human services agencies shall use the standard, statewide informing notice or approved county notice and process to inform all CalWORKs applicants and recipients of their rights established in this section. The informing notice shall be given, orally and in writing, at the time of application, recertification, and during the welfare-to-work planning process, process. The informing notice shall be given in writing at recertification, in each notice of action for sanction resulting from failure to participate in a program requirement, and whenever an applicant or recipient voluntarily discloses that he or she is a victim of abuse. Proof that the applicant or recipient received was provided with each notice shall be retained in his or her case file.
(d) The informing notice required by subdivision (c) shall be developed by the department, in consultation with the county human services agencies, domestic violence and CalWORKs advocates, and CalWORKs caseworkers, and it shall include the rights and responsibilities established in this section, section; examples of the types of rule waivers that may be requested; space for county-specific instructions for securing a waiver, waiver and a service plan; space for county domestic abuse resources, including Medi-Cal mental health services, services; confidentiality and the limits thereof, thereof; family violence option waivers available for abuse victims, victims; the good cause exemption to the child support cooperation requirement, requirement; general abuse information such as safety planning, planning; information about how to receive county assistance in tailoring welfare-to-work plans to meet the needs of victims, victims when they do not have a waiver of the welfare-to-work rules; and remedies available for immigrant domestic violence survivors. Counties that wish to use a notice they have developed may do so with the approval of the department, provided the notice meets the minimum requirements of this subdivision.
(e) Proof that an informing notice was given and received to an applicant or recipient and the applicant or recipient did not, at the time, disclose the existence of domestic abuse shall never be a reason not serve as a basis to deny a waiver when a waiver is requested at a later date or as a basis for requesting additional evidence of abuse under Section 11495.25. Abuse may be disclosed at any time.
(f) No applicant or recipient of aid shall be required to disclose his or her status, or the status of another member of the authorized unit, as a domestic violence victim in order to receive aid.
(g) Nothing in this section shall limit the authority of a county to waive a program rule retroactively if the past application of the rule unfairly penalized the individual or made it more difficult for the individual to escape the abuse. However, the county shall collect evidence of the abuse, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 11495.25, in order to waive the program rules retroactively for a period that goes beyond the most recent 12 months.

SEC. 4.

 Section 11495.25 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

11495.25.
 (a) When determining eligibility for program waivers established in Section 11495.15, either of the following shall be accepted:
(a)A a sworn statement by a victim of past or present abuse shall be sufficient to establish abuse that is currently occurring or has occurred up to 12 months in the past, unless the county human services agency documents in writing an independent, reasonable basis to find the recipient not credible and none of the. If the documentation is made, the agency shall seek corroborating evidence listed in subdivision (b) can be secured by the worker. Nothing shall preclude the applicant or recipient from voluntarily providing additional evidence that may be available beyond a sworn statement. The evidence shall be retained in the case file. If the applicant or recipient states that the abuse occurred longer than 12 months in the past, evidence as described in subdivision (b) shall also be requested from the applicant or recipient and the county shall assist the applicant or recipient in obtaining the evidence, as appropriate.
(b) Evidence that abuse is occurring or has occurred at any time in the past shall include, but is not limited to: police, government agency, or court records or files; documentation from a domestic violence program, legal, clerical, medical, or other professional from whom the applicant or recipient is seeking or has sought assistance in dealing with regarding the abuse; or other evidence, such as a statement from any other individual with knowledge of the circumstances that provide the basis for the claim, physical evidence of abuse, or any other evidence that supports the applicant or recipient’s sworn statement in made pursuant to subdivision (a).

SEC. 5.

 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.