Waivers and flexibilities for application for RCA, ECA, TCVAP and RSS

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued guidance regarding waivers and flexibilities that apply to Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA), Entrant Cash Assistance (ECA), Trafficking and Crime Victims Assistance Program (TCVAP), Refugee Support Services (RSS), and RSS set aside programs, such as Services to Older Refugees (SOR). The waiver and flexibility policies were issued in Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) letter 23-01.

The waivers and flexibilities are effective beginning October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2023 when they will automatically expire, without further notice. Once expired, waivers and flexibilities will no longer apply unless further extended by CDSS.

The requirement for written declarations from applicants of their immigration status has been waived to provide states time to increase their capacity to serve the influx populations. The process for obtaining the declarations may be conducted over the phone. Verbal declarations must be supported by a written declaration as soon as possible. If unable to meet in-person with applicants, counties can confirm immigrant status eligibility through a database or other electronic means without first checking documentation. A eligibility determination may be made if the declaration shows the applicant has the status or category that confers eligibility for services. Applicants must provide proof of their immigration status within 90 days of making a written or verbal declaration.

The determination that an applicant is not eligible for TANF/CalWORKs prior to providing RCA benefits has been waived in order to allow recipients to receive benefits and services while waiting for approval for TANF/CalWORKs. This includes inability to apply for or receive a Social Security Number.  If, however, the recipient of RCA benefits is later approved for TANF/CalWORKs and given retroactive payments, they must pay back the funds given to them through RCA. Counties should inform applicants about this possibility of recoupment. Counties must ensure that RCA benefits are discontinued for clients who are approved for TANF/CalWORKs before their eligibility for RCA ends.

Recipients of RCA funds must enroll or be referred to employment services within 30 days after issuance. CWDs may use virtual means to provide employment services only when it is in the best interest of the recipients.  Virtual services should be complementary to in-person instruction.

The eligibility criteria (except immigrant status/category) for ECA for Cuban Haitian Entrants is the same as RCA.  Therefore, the ECA program receives the same flexibilities and waivers as the RCA program. Similarly, the eligibility criteria (except legal status) for TCVAP are the same as RCA and as such the same flexibilities and waivers apply.  (ACWDL, July 14, 2023.)