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SB-609 CalFresh.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/19/2021 04:00 AM
SB609:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 609


Introduced by Senator Hurtado

February 18, 2021


An act to amend Sections 18901.11 and 18926.7 of, and to add Section 18926.8 to, the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to CalFresh.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 609, as introduced, Hurtado. CalFresh.
Existing federal law provides for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known in California as CalFresh, under which supplemental nutrition assistance benefits allocated to the state by the federal government are distributed to eligible individuals by each county. Under existing law, households are eligible to receive CalFresh benefits to the extent permitted by federal law. Existing federal law provides that students who are enrolled in college or other institutions of higher education at least half time are not eligible for SNAP benefits unless they meet one of several specified exemptions, including participating in specified employment training programs.
Existing state law requires, for the purposes of determining eligibility for CalFresh, certain educational programs, as determined by the State Department of Social Services, to be considered employment training programs, thereby qualifying a student participating in one of those programs for an exemption, unless prohibited by federal law. Existing law requires the department to maintain and regularly update a list of programs that meet the employment training exemption set forth in federal regulations.
This bill would require the department, to the extent permitted by federal law, to include adult education and career technical education programs in the list of programs established by the department that are deemed to meet the employment training exemption set forth in the federal regulations.
Existing law authorizes counties to participate in the CalFresh Employment and Training program (CalFresh E&T), established by federal law, for the purpose of assisting members of CalFresh households in gaining skills, training, work, or experience that will increase their ability to obtain regular employment. Existing law authorizes the department to the extent permitted by federal law, to contract directly with an entity that has expertise in, and secures funds for, specified CalFresh E&T program services, and authorizes the department to act as the state entity for receipt of federal reimbursement on behalf of the entity provided that the entity complies with state and federal contracting requirements and, among other things, provides services to participants who face multiple barriers to employment, as defined.
This bill would include within the definition of a “participant who faces multiple barriers to employment” an individual who lost employment as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including, but not limited to, lost employment due to a layoff, illness, or caregiving responsibility.
This bill would establish the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program to, among other things, increase the availability of CalFresh E&T program services and increase CalFresh E&T enrollment. The bill would require all contracts for CalFresh E&T services established under the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program to include performance expectations in relation to the demographics of participants, as specified. The bill would require the department, as part of the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program, to seek out contracts that provide services reflective of regional workforce needs and focus on serving specified populations, including, among others, individuals who are English language learners and individuals facing substantial cultural barriers.
To the extent that the bill would impose new duties on counties administering the CalFresh program, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
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 the statutory provisions noted above.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

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


SECTION 1.

 Section 18901.11 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

18901.11.
 (a) For purposes of Section 273.5(b)(11)(ii) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, an educational program that could be a component of a CalFresh E&T program described in Section 18926.5, as identified by the department, shall be considered an employment and training program under Section 273.7 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, unless prohibited by federal law.
(b) The department shall, in consultation with representatives of the office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the office of the Chancellor of the California State University, University of California Chancellors’ offices, the California Workforce Investment Board, county human services agencies, and advocates for students and clients, establish a protocol to identify and verify all potential exemptions to the eligibility rule described in Section 273.5(a) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and to identify and verify participation in educational programs, including, but not necessarily limited to, self-initiated placements, that would exempt a student from the eligibility rule described in Section 273.5(a) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations. To the extent possible, this consultation shall take place through existing workgroups convened by the department.
(c) (1) The department shall maintain and regularly update the list of programs identified by the workgroup established pursuant to subdivision (b) because they meet the standard set in Section 273.5(b)(11) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which provides that a student is eligible for an exemption from the CalFresh program’s eligibility rules if the student’s attendance can be described as part of a program to increase the student’s employability.
(2) To the extent permitted by federal law, the department shall include adult education and career technical education programs in the list of programs established pursuant to paragraph (1) that are deemed to meet the standard set in Section 273.5(b)(11) of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(d) (1) The department shall issue and maintain instructions for county human services agencies to verify exemptions to the CalFresh student eligibility rules for students who participate in the programs identified pursuant to subdivision (c), students who are approved and anticipate participating in state or federal workstudy, or students who meet one of the qualifications for exemptions set forth in Section 69519.3 of the Education Code.
(2) The department shall, on or before January 1, 2021, and in consultation with representatives of the office of the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the office of the Chancellor of the California State University, University of California Chancellors’ offices, and county human services agencies, create a standardized form to be used by community colleges and universities to verify that a student is approved and anticipating participation in state or federal workstudy for the purpose of assisting county human services agencies in determining the student’s potential eligibility for CalFresh. To the extent practicable, community colleges and universities shall distribute the form to all students approved for state or federal workstudy.
(3) For purposes of this subdivision, and to the extent allowed by federal law, a student shall be considered to be “anticipating participation” in workstudy if the student can reasonably expect or foresee being assigned a workstudy job, and a student shall be deemed to be “anticipating participation” in workstudy until the student receives notice from the institution of higher education that the student has been denied participation in workstudy.
(e) (1) This section does not require a county human services agency to offer a particular component, support services, or workers’ compensation to a student found eligible for an exemption pursuant to this section.
(2) This section does not restrict or require the use of federal funds for the financing of CalFresh E&T programs.
(3) Except for the information required to complete the form specified in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d), this section does not require a college or university to provide a student with information necessary to verify eligibility for CalFresh.

SEC. 2.

 Section 18926.7 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

18926.7.
 (a) (1) To the extent permitted under federal law, the department may contract directly with an entity that provides services on a regional or statewide basis and that has expertise in, and secures funds for, CalFresh E&T program services provided to participants that are allowable for partial federal reimbursement.
(2) The department may act as the state entity for receipt of federal reimbursement on behalf of the entity, provided that the entity complies with state and federal contracting requirements and the entity serves participants who face multiple barriers to employment and offers evidence-based skills development that results in a demonstrable increase in employment rates and earnings from work. The entity may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:
(A) An employment social enterprise.
(B) A private nonprofit.
(C) A public postsecondary educational institution, or other state or local agency.
(D) An organization serving as an intermediary for an entity described in subparagraphs (A) to (C), inclusive, and the department.
(b) The department shall seek any county consultation necessary to implement subdivision (a), including, but not limited to, coordination with counties that have contracts in place pursuant to subdivision (c), or counties that are considering entering into contracts pursuant to subdivision (c).
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), a county may contract with an employment social enterprise or designated intermediary to provide services to its CalFresh E&T program participants. The department shall, no later than June 1, 2018, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association, issue guidance instructing counties that elect to participate in CalFresh E&T program services of any special considerations for partnering with employment social enterprises in the development or implementation of their county CalFresh E&T programs.
(d) (1) For purposes of this section, “employment social enterprise” means a social purpose corporation, a benefit corporation, or a nonprofit corporation that earns 51 percent or more of its enterprise revenue from production or assembly of goods or the provision of services and that demonstrates evidence of its mission to provide employment with on-the-job and life skills training to a direct labor force, not including supervisors, administrators, and trainers, that is comprised of 80 percent or more participants who face multiple barriers to employment.
(2) For purposes of this section, “participant who faces multiple barriers to employment” means any of the following individuals:
(A) An individual with employment barriers who is a member of at least two of the groups listed under subdivision (j) of Section 14005 of the Unemployment Insurance Code.
(B) An individual who is or has been a homeless individual, as defined in Section 254b of Title 42 of the United States Code.
(C) An individual who is an out-of-school youth, as defined in Section 3164(a)(1)(B) of Title 29 of the United States Code.
(D) An individual who lost employment as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including, but not limited to, lost employment due to a layoff, illness, or caregiving responsibility that is the direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEC. 3.

 Section 18926.8 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

18926.8.
 (a) There is hereby established the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program. The purpose of the program is to increase the availability of CalFresh E&T program services, facilitate the expansion of county participation in CalFresh E&T, increase CalFresh E&T enrollment, and improve program quality by increasing the availability of CalFresh E&T services that create career pathways and are connected to regional workforce needs.
(b) In order to expand and improve the CalFresh E&T program, all contracts for CalFresh E&T services established under the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program shall include performance expectations in relation to the demographics of participants. The program shall consider an individual’s educational background, age, gender, and earnings at the time of entry into the program and set outcome measures that may include, but are not limited to, CalFresh E&T participation requirements, receipt of supportive services, skills attainment, and completion of a credential.
(c) All federal reimbursements received as a result of the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program shall be reinvested into the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program.
(d) In order to meet emerging needs and ensure equitable distribution of resources, as part of the CalFresh E&T Expansion and Improvement Program, the department shall seek out contracts that provide services reflective of regional workforce needs and focus on serving the following populations:
(1) Individuals who are English language learners.
(2) Individuals who have low levels of literacy.
(3) Individuals facing substantial cultural barriers.
(4) Youth who are in, or who have aged out of, the foster care system.
(5) Tribal communities and organizations.
(6) Eligible migrant and seasonal farmworkers, as defined in Section 3222(i) of Title 29 of the United States Code.
(7) Individuals who are candidates for enrollment in adult education and career technical programs.

SEC. 4.

 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.