CalWORKs options for education activities

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued clarification about education as a CalWORKs welfare-to-work activity.

During the 24 month time clock, activities are flexible and clients and engage in education and training without restriction.  This includes job skills training directly related to employment, satisfactory attendance at a secondary school on a course leading to a general education certificate, education directly related to employment, adult basic education and vocational education.  Clients must have a Welfare-to-Work plan to meet CalWORKs minimum participation standards.

The 24 month clock can be extended in up to six month increments if the recipient has made satisfactory progress in an education program that has a known graduation, transfer or completion date that would meaningful increase the likelihood of employment.  The 24 month can also be extended for a recipient who earned their high school diploma or equivalent while participating in Welfare-to-Work and needs additional time to complete their current education program.

CalWORKs federal standards provide for 12 months of vocational education in addition to education during the 24 month time on aid clock and any extensions of the 24 month clock.  The 24 month clock does not tick when participants are meeting federal participation requirements, which are 30 hours per week for a one parent household (20 hours of which must be in a federally approved activity), 35 per week hours for a two-parent household, and 20 hours per week for a one parent household with a child under age 6.  After the 24 month clock has expired, the recipient must meet the minimum federal participation requirements.

Education and other activities can be combined to meet Welfare-to-Work participation requirements.

Supportive services, including child care, diapers for young children, transportation, books, tools or supplies, must be available to everyone participating in assigned Welfare-to-Work activities including volunteer participants.  This includes persons participating in education either in-person or by distance learning.  Supportive services must also be available during time the participant is doing homework, whether this is supervised or unsupervised, for both in-person and distance education activities.

Counties must make advance payments of supportive services as necessary.  CDSS strongly encourages counties to make advance payments prior to the beginning of each academic term.  (ACL 19-48, July 2, 2019.)