Treatment of CalKIDS accounts

In 2019, the passage of SB 77 provided one-time state funding to create CalKIDS, a qualified scholarship program. It opens a college savings account for every newborn child in California regardless of income. CalKIDS will provide an initial seed deposit of at least $25 in each savings account and other potential financial awards to participants. In 2021, the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act significantly expanded the program to include an additional 3.7 million low-income public school students in grades 1 through 12 who qualify for free or reduced lunch, are homeless, or are in foster care. Eligible students receive an initial seed deposit of $500. Later in 2021, CalKIDS clarified eligibility to include students attending state special schools.  The CalKIDS expansion was implemented on July 1, 2022. 

College Savings and CalKIDS Accounts allow families to save and invest money for their children’s future higher education expenses. Savings withdrawn from a CSA program that utilizes a 529 college savings account, such as CalKIDS, are not subject to federal or state taxes if they are used for qualified higher education expenses. 

Because CalKIDS Accounts are owned by the State and are not available to the Assistance Unit (AU) are not counted as income or resources for CalWORKs purposes. Any funds, including funds deposited and investment returns, originating from a CalKIDS account will not be considered in the eligibility determination or grant calculation for CalWORKs applicants or recipients. 

CalKIDS Accounts are entirely excluded as income or resources for the CalFresh and California Food Assistance Program CalKIDS shows accounts must be excluded from income and resources entirely. 

CalKIDS does not count as income for CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Program (HA) and the CalWORKs Housing Support Program (HSP) because they are CalWORKs programs.  CalKIDS also does not count as income when determining eligibility for assistance provided by other Housing and Homelessness Programs, including Project Roomkey/Homelessness COVID Response, Bringing Families Home, and the Housing and Disability Advocacy Program.

CalKIDS accounts do not count as income for CalWORKs Stage 1 Child Care.  For other child care programs,  CalKIDS accounts are not considered countable income because they are owned by the state.. CalKIDS funds that are withdrawn and not utilized for educational purposes may be considered countable income if not excluded on some other basis.

The impact of CalKIDS on RCA/ECA and TCVAP follows the income and assets eligibility and administration rules of the CalWORKs program unless specifically superseded by RCA regulations. The eligibility criteria for ECA and TCVAP Cash Assistance states benefits shall be the same as those for RCA, with certain exceptions. These CalWORKs regulations regarding the treatment of CalKIDS accounts and funds also apply to RCA, ECA, and TCVAP recipients.

CalKIDS accounts are not counted as a resource for SSI/SSP or CAPI because they are owned by the state.  Distributions that are used for educational expenses of the designated beneficiary are excluded as a resource in the month received, and if retained beyond the month of receipt, they are excluded for 9 months beginning with the month of receipt. However, since the funds will be distributed directly to the higher education institutions on behalf of the participants to pay for qualifying higher education expenses and not retained by the beneficiary, the distributions will likewise not be considered a resource to the beneficiary.  (ACL 22-79, October 4, 2022.)