Standard ancillary services payment and other WTW changes for students

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) informs counties of changes to CalWORKs welfare-to-work (WTW) for students, including the new standard payment for ancillary services for students.  These changes are effective January 1, 2021 and must be implemented no later than the Fall, 2021 school term.

WTW participants enrolled in a publicly funded postsecondary educational institution and making satisfactory progress must receive an advanced, standard payment for required books and college supplies.  The participant must provide proof of enrollment.  The standard payment for full time students is $500 per semester and $350 per quarter.  The standard payment for part-time students is $250 per semester and $175 per quarter. These payments must be available at least 10 days before the start of the term.

Participants can request reimbursement of actual costs if they provide verification of those costs.  Counties must issue payment within 20 days of the request and provision of verification.

Counties can provide these payments as a voucher or other means of payment to a store that carries the books or college supplies required for participation.  Counties can only exercise this option if they ensure that vouchers are available to WTW participants no later than 10 days before the start of the term.

Satisfactory progress is determined by the educational institution.  Proof of admission is sufficient to show satisfactory progress because schools will not allow enrollment unless the student is making satisfactory progress.

Publicly funded postsecondary educational institution excludes for-profit schools.

WTW participants in publicly funded postsecondary educational institution shall not be required to complete job search or job club as their initial engagement activity.  Assessments for WTW participants in publicly funded postsecondary educational institution can only be conducted for the purpose of identifying barriers to participation in education such as domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health or learning disability.  WTW participants cannot be disallowed from attending the institution because of a barrier or refusal to attend an assessment.  Assessment results cannot be used to limit or restrict the participant’s choice in educational or training goal.

These changes do not make any changes to Self-Initiated Programs.

WTW participants enrolled in a publicly funded postsecondary educational institution shell receive three hours of study time for each academic unit enrolled in for purposes of calculating WTW hourly requirements.  If students do not meet the total number of hours required, counties must assist the participant by allowing the participant to submit a proposal for meeting those hours based on the full array of WTW activities available.

Participants who receive an advanced standard payment must sign a Welfare-to-Work Plan Activity Assignment (WTW 2) form.  If the participant continues attending the same institution at the same full-time or part-time level and does not require additional supportive services, an updated WTW 2 is not required.

The county must provide the WTW 2 30 days prior to registration for the term.  Counties must allow students to change their major or field of study.  If the county does not provide the WTW 2 form 30 days prior to the beginning of the term, ancillary services shall continue at the same level until the county receives the updated WTW 2.  (ACL 21-04, January 20, 2021.)