Implementation of CalFresh Employment and Training Provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued information regarding changes to CalFresh Employment and Training (E & T) because of the 2018 Farm Bill.

CDSS previously implemented the 2018 Farm Bill provision requiring counties to consult with Local Workforce Development Boards when designing their E & T programs. Beginning in fiscal year 2022, counties may consult with private employers or employee organizations in lieu of Local Workforce Development Boards if they can demonstrate it is more effective or efficient.

Beginning in fiscal year 2022, counties that are providing CalFresh E & T services can offer subsidized employment as a work experience activity.  This means that wages can be paid to participants who engage in work experience and wage costs may be claimed as an allowable CalFresh E & T expense.

Effective October 1, 2021, E & T providers can make a determination that a participant is not a good fit for a particular E & T component.  If the providers makes this determination, the county must decide if the individual should continue to participate in E & T.  If the provider determines they have a more suitable placement, the county can either require the provider to refer to participant back to the county, or allow the provider to switch the individual to the other placement without a referral.

When the county receives a determination that a participant is not a good fit, the county must, no later than the participants next recertification, either: refer the individual to another appropriate E & T component, refer the individual to a workforce partnership, reassess the physical and mental fitness of the individual, or coordinate with other workforce or assistance programs to identify other work opportunities or assistance.

By October 1, 2021, all counties must provide a written notice and verbal explanation of all applicable work requirements to all individuals subject to any CalFresh work-related policy. This new notice must be provided to all ABAWDs subject to the time limit at application, recertification, and when an individual loses an ABAWD exemption.

The Farm Bill reduces the number of discretionary exemptions from the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) time limit from 15% of covered individuals to 12% of covered individuals.  This means counties without a waiver of the ABAWD time limit will have fewer discretionary exemptions available to provide to non-exempt ABAWDs at risk of losing CalFresh eligibility.

Effective immediately, E & T programs for veterans operated by the Department of Labor or the Department of Veterans Affairs and certified workforce partnerships are allowable work activities to satisfy the ABAWD work requirement.  In addition, time spent in case management through E & T counts toward the ABAWD work requirement.  (ACL 21-48, April 23, 2021.)