Welfare to Work and college summer session, winter intersession and adult school

SB 1232 (2020) changed education as a welfare-to-work activity for publicly funded institutions, including establishing an advanced standard supportive services payment for necessary books and supplies, requiring counties to accept education as a welfare-to-work activity, allowing 3 hours of study time for each academic unit, and mandating that full time post-secondary school enrollment meets minimum welfare-to-work requirements.  The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided clarification regarding application of welfare to work policies to summer session, winter intersession, adult schools and adult education.

For education activities that do not have academic units such as non-credit courses and adult schools, one instructional hour will be considered one academic unit, rounded up to the nearest hour.

Students in summer sessions that last the duration of the summer term as determined by the academic institution, are eligible for a $350 supportive services payment for full-time enrollment and $175 for part-time enrollment.  For a condensed summer session, all students are entitled to a $175 supportive services payment.  Students enrolled in two condensed summer sessions are entitled to two $175 supportive services payments.  Students who are enrolled full time meet their minimum welfare-to-work requirements regardless of the duration of the session.

All students enrolled in winter intersessions are entitled to a $175 supportive services payment.  Students who are enrolled in winter intersessions meet their minimum welfare-to-work requirements.

For adult schools, students enrolled for 13 weeks or less are considered enrolled in a quarter term, and students enrolled for more than 13 weeks are considered enrolled in a semester term.  This applies to open entry enrollment.  Students who enroll midsession have their quarter/semester determination made based on the number of weeks they have enrolled.

For adult schools, enrollment for 12 or more instructional hours per week are considered full time. Enrollment for less than 12 hours is part time.  Enrollment in an academic session that is less than 8 weeks is part-time for purposes of the standard supportive services payment.  The number of hours in a self-directed course is based on the number of expected hours for the course as documented in school materials.

For adult schools, study time is calculated based on the number in instructional hours.  Students get 3 hours of study time per instructional hour.  Students can request actual study time that is more than 3 hours per hour of instruction if the school verifies the need or based on the student’s individual need (such as a learning disability that requires more study time).

For students enrolled in multiple education institutions at the same time, counties must determine the number of units or instructional hours across all institutions.  Students who are enrolled for a total of 12 units or hours, or more, are full time, and students enrolled for less than 12 units or hours are part time.  Students enrolled in quarter-based and semester-based programs at the same time receive the semester standard supportive services payment amount.

Clients must provide proof of enrollment for each term.  Counties must provide a new or revised welfare-to-work plan at least 30 days prior to the start of the term.  If the county does not provide a new plan, the prior plan remains in effect.  Counties must issue the standard supportive services payment regardless of whether a welfare-to-work plan is signed on time.  The standard supportive services payment must be issued at least 10 days prior to the start of the term.

Overpayments can occur when the client is not eligible for the payment they received, such as not being enrolled.  Overpayment do not occur if the client’s enrollment status changes or they drop out.  Counties cannot ask for receipts to show how the supportive services payment was spent.  Counties cannot seek an overpayment is the actual cost of books and supplies is less than the standard supportive services payment.

For requests for supportive payments above the standard supportive services payment amount, the student must verify the expenses that exceed the amount of the standard supportive service payment.  The county shall issue the amount that exceeds the standard supportive services amount within 20 days of the request and providing verification of expenses.  (ACL 22-31, April 27, 2022.)