Treatment of Racial Equity Implicit Bias Initiative focus group payments

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has provided guidance to County Welfare Departments regarding treatment of the Racial Equity and Implicit Bias (REIB) Initiative focus group payments. The focus groups will provide a unique client perspective and equity challenges.

CDSS is working with community partners to develop a trauma-informed, anti-racist, anti-stigma county training framework for the CalWORKs and CalFresh programs. This framework will promote positive outcomes for child and family health and well-being.

Community partner Parent Voices is working with consultant Anavo Solutions to convene a Community Advisory Committee comprised of nine community members. Participants in the Parent Voices Community Advisory Committee (PV-CAC) will receive a $1,000 stipend. The PV-CAC will operate and support a focus group of CalWORKs and CalFresh recipients.  Members of this focus group will receive $75 gift cards.

The $1,000 stipend is considered a lump sum payment and not income for CalWORKs or CalFresh.  The $1,000 stipend is a resource in the month received.  The $75 gift card is exempt from being considered a resource.

For CalFresh households subject to a resource test, both the $1,000 stipend and the $75 gift card count as a resource in the month received.

The PV Focus Group $75 Visa gift card is not countable as income for Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) Medi-Cal and Non-MAGI Medi-Cal. The $1,000 stipend would be counted as taxable income for MAGI Medi-Cal, which means it is counted in the month received as a one-time lump sum payment. (September 20, 2022)  For Non-MAGI Medi-Cal, the $1,000 payment is income in the month received and property in the month following the month of receipt.  (ACWDL, September 20, 2022.)