Welfare-to-Work during COVID-19 pandemic recovery

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding Welfare-to-Work during recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Counties currently can grant blanket good cause, that is, not requiring anyone to participate in Welfare-to-Work, because of COVID-19.  The blanket good cause option will end 60 days after the federal Public Health Emergency is lifted.  Currently, the federal Public Health Emergency is scheduled to end on May 11, 2023.

After the Public Health Emergency ends, counties will have 60 days, or as soon as is administratively feasible, to re-engage participants who had blanket good cause.  Counties can continue to grant good cause on a case-by-case basis because the COVID-19 pandemic prevents or significantly impairs the individual’s ability to participate.

CDSS strongly recommends that counties grant good cause to CalWORKs participants who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability that interferes with their ability to participate in Welfare-to-Work.

Counties are encouraged to do avoid initiating noncompliance and saction procedures.  This includes promoting education; incentives for Welfare-to-Work participation; using Expanded Subsidized Employment, apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, and other employment and training activities; using family stabilization; and conducting meetings, appointments and signing documents electronically.

Counties are encouraged to allow partial or progressive engagement to assist in making incremental progress toward full Welfare-to-Work participation.

Counties can offer incentives for Welfare-to-Work participation, such as gift cards, cash, or vouchers.

Counties can continue Expanded Subsidized Employment and CalWORKs Work Study, even when worksites are closed because of COVID-19.

Electronic and telephonic signatures continue to be allowed and encouraged for Welfare-to-Work.  Counties are encouraged to conduct meetings and appointments with participants virtually.  Counties should give flexibility in scheduling to facilitate participation, including allowing virtual meetings.    (ACWDL, December 30, 2022.)