Immediate and continuous child care eligibility

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued directions implementing immediate and continuous child care eligibility.  Effective October 1, 2019, counties must approve child care concurrently with CalWORKs cash aid and authorize child care for 12 months or until CalWORKs recipients are transferred to Stage Two.  Child care shall be authorized full time, that is 30 or more hours per week, unless the recipient requests part-time care.

Stage One recipients no longer need to recertify child care eligibility more than once every 12 months unless child are needs increase, they have a new child who needs care, they have changed child care providers or the eligible child becomes ineligible.

Once a family is determined eligible for CalWORKs they will receive a 12-month Stage One Child care authorization except for families with no aided adults, and newly approved recipients who are exempt from welfare-to-work and do not indicate a desire to voluntarily participate.  Exempt recipients who declare an intent to participate and sign a welfare-to-work plan will be eligible for immediate and continuous child care.

If a mandatory welfare-to-work participant stops participating in their activity, child care services continue for the remainder of the authorization period or until child care authorization is discontinued.  Parents sanctioned after being authorized for child care shall remain eligible until the 12-month period is concluded or they are transferred to Stage 2.  Parents sanctioned before October 1, 2019 who received CalWORKs in the last 24-months are eligible for State Two. Sanctioned parents who indicate an intent to cure their sanction are eligible for immediate and continuous child care effective at the time they communicate their intent to cure.

Recipients with a domestic violence waiver remain eligible for continuous child care regardless of their welfare-to-work participation.

Immediate and continuous child care eligibility will not be granted to two parent families in which one parent is able and available to provide child care.

Counties must verify that suitable child care has been authorized and secured before mandating participation in any activities.  Counties must provide written notice that participants have 30 days to confirm that child care has been secured before participation is mandatory.  The notice should include information about how to get help finding child care.  If the county has not been informed that child care has been secured after 15 days, the county must contact the participant to help secure child care.

License exempt providers who are not exempt from TrustLine must complete registration prior to being paid.  Once TrustLine registration has occurred, the provider can receive retroactive payments for up to 120 days from the date CalWORKs services were requested or services provided, whichever is later.

Immediate and continuous child care can be discontinued only if the recipient is transferred to Stage Two and the county receives confirmation of Stage Two enrollment, the participant exceeds income eligibility of 85% of the state median income for their family size, or if an exempt participate initially volunteers but later decides not to participate and does not sign a welfare-to-work plan.

When determining eligibility for diversion services instead of CalWORKs, counties must consider the adequacy of the applicant’s child care arrangements.  Stage Two child care can be provided to diversion recipients when a funded Stage Three space is not immediately available.

Counties must provide written notice of availability of child care several times throughout their time on CalWORKs.

Stage One must continue until confirmation is received from the Stage Two administrator that child care is provided in Stage Two unless a family is otherwise ineligible.  Practices to improve the transfer process between Stage One and Stage Two include ongoing communication between the Stage One and Stage Two administrators, confirmation of transfer before Stage One is discontinued, and transferring data elements.  The case is transferred to Stage Two when the Stage Two contractor received all nine data elements from the county welfare department or Stage One administrator and has notified the transferring contractor in writing or by email that the nine data elements are complete.

Beginning no later than January 1, 2021, county welfare departments shall provide limited, read-only, online access to SAWS systems including a single summary page that contains current data needed to enroll a family in CalWORKs child care or transfer a family between stages.

Beginning no later than January 1, 2021, county welfare departments must provide Stage Two contractors a monthly report of all families for which the parent’s cash aid has been discontinued, the parent has not received aid in the last 30 days and the parent has children in the home who are potentially eligible for child care.  (ACL 19-99, October 4, 2019.)