The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS) program is a state version of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) federal welfare program. The program gives families short-term cash assistance to help pay for housing, food, and utilities. It serves all 58 counties in the state. Its eligibility requirements vary by county, but the program is open to non-citizens who are victims of trafficking or battering.
Eligibility for CalWORKS is based on family size and income. Families that have children can receive cash assistance, food, child care, and health coverage. In addition, those who are homeless can apply for a temporary homelessness payment.
Unless exempted, adult recipients must participate in work requirements or welfare-to-work activities as a condition of receiving assistance. The programme also provides supportive services to assist with meeting the work participation requirements and achieving self-sufficiency.
Pregnant and parenting teens can be eligible for the Cal-Learn program, which provides education, career and life skills training to help them prepare to enter or re-enter the workforce. The programme also helps with educational expenses and child care costs. The teen is assigned a case manager to help them identify issues and problems and get the services they need.
Who is Considered a Qualified Immigrant for CalWORKs?
- Lawful permanent residents (green card holders)
- Refugees and asylees
- Conditional entrants
- Individuals granted withholding of deportation or removal.
- Cuban/Haitian entrants
- Certain victims of domestic violence (including those with T or U visas)
- Unaccompanied refugee minors and certain Ukrainian immigrants
It’s important to note that:
- Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for CalWORKs.
- Some immigrants on certain visas may have time-limited eligibility or restricted benefits.
- Sponsorships: In some cases, sponsored immigrants may qualify for CalWORKs based on their sponsor’s income and assets.
Is CalWORKS Only for US Citizens?
CalWORKs is not restricted to US citizens. While a US citizen or qualified immigrant status is a requirement for eligibility, many categories of immigrants fall under the “qualified” designation.
How to Apply for CallWORKS?
You can apply for CalWORKS online or in person at a Family Resource Center. A worker will be available to answer your questions and walk you through the process. When you attend your interview, it is important to bring a list of documentation. You will also need to verify your income and your household’s total assets.
Can You Get CalWORKs and Unemployment Benefits in California?
Yes, you can. In most cases, you can receive both CalWORKs and unemployment benefits in California, though there are some nuances to consider:
Simultaneously apply for both: Even if you’re initially approved for CalWORKs, you can still apply for unemployment benefits if you become eligible.
Receive both benefits: If you meet the eligibility requirements for both programs, you can generally receive both CalWORKs cash assistance and unemployment benefits concurrently.