COVID-19 CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work guidance

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued continued guidance regarding the impact of COVID-19 on CalWORKs Welfare-to-Work (WTW).

Counties should exercise discretion regarding optional documentation and verification in order to continue providing WTW services and supports.

Counties can issue temporary blanket good cause for not meeting WTW requirements.  This includes all initial engagement activities, all assessments and evaluations, completion or maintenance of a WTW plan and WTW participation.

Counties are encouraged to serve clients remotely through distance learning activities.  CDSS has partnered with Cell-Ed to provide customizable distance learning options.  (See ACIN I-55-20.)

Sanctioned clients may now have good cause not to participate or who have a cure plan with activities that are no longer available.  For those clients, counties should implement cure plans documenting that the activity that the client failed to do is not available because of COVID-19.  The cure plan can specify an alternative activity such as reviewing orientation materials or conducting job search online.  When assigning another activity is not practical or feasible because of COVID-19, counties may implement cure plans stating the lack of available activities and that the client temporarily has good cause not to participate.

Counties cannot cure all sanctioned participants because of COVID-19. Clients must sign a cure plan.  Counties are encouraged to issue pre-populated sanction sure plans for individuals to sign without solicitation from the client.  Counties should consider telephonic, electronic or mail-in signatures.  For counties that cannot accept electronic or recorded telephonic signatures, counties must enter a case not stating the individual attested to the information provided.

For clients who are in noncompliance but are not yet sanctioned, counties should make all attempts to avoid imposing sanctions by offering other available and appropriate activities, or by applying good cause.

Counties can continue subsidizing wages in the Expanded Subsidized Employment program even when the worksites are closed because of COVID-19.

CalWORKS Work Study subsidies can continue where work hours are reduced, worksites are closed or students are otherwise unable to meet work study obligations because of COVID-19.  For example, the subsidy may continue when students are unable to work because of lack of supportive services, such as when the student’s child care provider is closed because of COVID-19.  The subsidized payment can be made directly to the CalWORKs recipient, or through the employer or third-party payor if they are able to issue subsidized wages to the recipient.  (All County Welfare Directors Letter, September 1, 2020.)