Child support in lieu of CalWORKs clarifications

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued clarification regarding implementation of SB 380 and previous guidance in ACL 18-82.  SB 380 provides CalWORKs applicants and recipients the option to exclude the needs of stepsiblings and half-siblings of CalWORKs-eligible children from determining the maximum aid paid and instead keep 100 percent of child support payments made on their behalf.

To exclude a stepsibling and half-sibling, they must live with at least one CalWORKs eligible child, the current child support received for them received is more than the cash aid amount for them, and the parent or caretaker relative asks in writing that the stepsibling or half-sibling not be included in the number of persons used to calculate the maximum aid payment.

Parents or caretaker relatives can exercise this option only at application, semi-annual reporting or annual redetermination.  The only exception is a child can be added back to the assistance unit maximum aid payment determination if child support received stops or decreases below the amount the child would receive if they are included in the assistance unit’s grant.

Counties must give the CW 52 informing notice at application and annual redetermination.  The CW 52 informs applicants and recipients of the option to exclude the needs of stepsiblings or half-siblings who receive child support in an amount greater than their CalWORKs grant.  The CW 52 also allows a parent or caretaker relative to make a written request to exclude a stepsibling or half-sibling on the back of the form. Such requests must be in writing.  Counties are not required to process verbal requests unless it is a reasonable accommodation for a disability.  Counties are strongly encouraged to offer the CW 52 form to anyone making a verbal request.

Child support does not need to be received from the Local Child Support Agency for the parent or caretaker relative to exclude a stepsibling or half-sibling, and a child support order in not required.

Child support court orders must be allocated among children to allow exclusion of the stepsibling and half-sibling.  Allocation can be determined from the court order or a printout from DissoMaster or other program that is incorporated into the order.

If the applicant or recipient does not have their court order, counties are encouraged to contact the Local Child Support Agency to get that information.

The Child Maximum Aid Payment is used to determine if the monthly child support received by a child exceeds the CalWORKs grant amount that the child receives or would receive if approved.  CDSS has a chart showing the Child Maximum Aid Payment.

When the statewide Maximum Aid Payment increases, the Child MAP will also change.  If the change causes the child to no longer be receiving child support in excess in the amount of CalWORKs, the county must add the child’s need to the assistance at the next semi-annual report or annual redetermination.

Teens with school attendance penalties are eligible to be excluded under SB 380.  When the penalty is lifted, the county must reevaluate eligibility for SB 380.

When a case with a SB 380 child has the only CalWORKs child receiving assistance becomes ineligible mid-period, the county cannot take action mid-period to discontinue the case or add the SB 380 child to the assistance unit’s maximum aid payment.  The county must continue aid until the end of the semi-annual or annual reporting period and then reevaluate the case and give the family the option to add the SB 380 child to the assistance unit maximum aid payment or stop receiving CalWORKs.  (ACL 20-109, October 13, 2020.)