Department of Social Services
Public Assistance Programs
The eligibility section, consisting of 121 employees, is responsible for administering the following programs:
CalWORKs, Foster Care, Kin-GAP and Adoption Assistance
CalWORKs provides cash assistance to families with children who are deprived of the support and care of one or both parents due to death, absence, incapacity, or unemployment. Most aided adults have a lifetime limit of 60 months of CalWORKs eligibility unless they:
¨ Have reached 60 years of age;
¨ Are disabled;
¨ Care for a child at risk of going into foster care.
Unless exempt from federal/state mandated Welfare to Work (WTW) requirements, the parent(s)/caretaker relative must comply with WTW to find and maintain employment that will result in self-sufficiency. Eligibility is contingent on meeting regulatory income and resource limits. A significant number of cases consist of children only with no aided adults, such as families in which:
¨ A child lives with an unaided non-parent caretaker relative;
¨ Parents are no longer aided due to having reached their 60-month time limit;
¨ Parents receive SSI/SSP;
¨ Parents are unaided due to non-compliance with CalWORKs requirements;
¨ Parents do not have satisfactory immigration status.
Family Resource Centers (FRC), which are out-station sites located in schools throughout Imperial County, have been designed to provide coordinated assistance to the families of qualifying students attending participating schools. The centers are staffed by various agencies including Behavioral Health, Probation, employment services, school staff, Social Services and other agencies that, through collaboration and case management, provide needed family services. The FRC eligibility unit determines initial and continuing eligibility for the CalWORKs, Food Stamp, Medi-Cal and CMSP programs for the families of children attending the school. The Winterhaven FRC serves all residents of Winterhaven. Currently, the following eight schools have FRCs on site with the exception of the West Shore Health Association site that serves all persons in the Salton Sea area:
¨ San Pasqual High School—Winterhaven
¨ Mains Elementary School—Calexico
¨ Brawley High School—Brawley
¨ Central Union High School—El Centro
¨ Grace Smith Elementary School—Niland
¨ McKinley Elementary School—El Centro
¨ Ben Hulse Elementary School—Imperial
¨ Seeley Elementary School—Seeley
¨ West Shores Health Association—Salton Sea area
Foster Care, Kin-GAP and Adoption Assistance programs provide financial assistance to foster/adoptive parents. Eligibility technicians have the responsibility to determine financial eligibility for foster care, Kin-GAP and Adoption Assistance.
Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI)
The CAPI program provides cash assistance to aged, blind and disabled immigrants who are ineligible for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Program (SSI/SSP) benefits due to their immigration status. Program eligibility and benefit levels are determined based on income and resource requirements that follow SSI/SSP rules. During fiscal year 2004-2005 about 11 cases were processed per month.
Food Stamps provide supplemental food and nutrition for low income families and individuals. Applicants/recipients must meet income and resource requirements and benefits are issued based on household size.
Public Assistance Food Stamps (PAFS) benefits are issued to households in which all members receive CalWORKs/General Assistance. Eligibility for these households is determined based partially on the cash aid requirements.
Non-Assistance food Stamp (NAFS) benefits are issued to households in which some, but not all, members are receiving CalWORKs cash aid benefits, or no member is receiving CalWORKs.
Eligibility is limited to individuals and families whose gross income (prior to deductions) is no more than 130 percent of the federal poverty level and whose net income is no more than 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Special rules apply to persons who are elderly and/or disabled.
CalWORKs and Food Stamp Highlights
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) was implemented in Imperial County which streamlined the issuance of food stamps and CalWORKs cash aid by eliminating the need for food coupons and warrants. Clients now have the convenience of accessing their benefits electronically via a debit card at participating retailers.
All clients are offered training on the proper use of the EBT card and have 24-hour access to an automatic response unit via the telephone. The services include deactivation of lost or stolen cards, personal identification number changes and account balance information. Food Stamp benefits can be accessed from any participating grocery store and other food retailers.
Quarterly Reporting/Retrospective Budgeting (QR/PB) was implemented state-wide in the CalWORKs and Food Stamp programs in June 2004. This new budgeting and client reporting methodology replaced a monthly report form with a quarterly report form and changed how reported and anticipated income is used when determining benefit amounts.
The Medi-Cal program (called Medicaid in other states) is a partnership between the federal and state governments and provides medical coverage for children and adults who have limited income and resources. Some persons may be required to pay a share of the cost of their medical services based upon countable income.
Persons who may be eligible for Medi-Cal are those who are:
¨ age 65 or older, blind, disabled,
¨ under age 21,
¨ certain refugees,
¨ residing in a skilled nursing or intermediate care facility,
¨ parent or caretaker relative of a child under age 21 and the child’s parent is deceased or is absent from the home, the child’s parent is incapacitated or the child’s parent who is the primary wage earner is unemployed or under-employed.
Persons who have medical insurance can still be covered by Medi-Cal. The medical provider will bill the insurance company first with Medi-Cal being the secondary insurance.
Individuals receiving cash assistance through the CalWORKs, Refugee Assistance, Foster Care and Adoption Assistance programs may be automatically eligible to Medi-Cal benefits.
According to the latest statistics from the Medical Care Statistics Section, the average monthly number of Imperial County individuals eligible for Medi-Cal in the year 2005 was 46,758. This represents approximately 30.7 percent of Imperial County’s population. There has been a gradual, but steady increase in the number of Medi-Cal cases. Medi-Cal only and cash-linked Medi-Cal cases have increased from 12,575 cases in December 2004 to 13,932 cases in November 2005.
Medi-Cal performance standards were implemented by the Department of Health Services effective January 2004 requiring that 90 percent of the Medi-Cal applications and yearly redeterminations be completed within the allowable time frames. Based upon April 2004 data, the standards were met in all areas by Imperial County.
Approval of 17 additional Medi-Cal positions was obtained on April 20, 2004, by James Semmes, Director, from the Imperial County Board of Supervisors as part of a departmental reorganization plan. These positions included: 1 staff services analyst, 9 eligibility technicians, 6 office assistants (unit clerks), and 1 eligibility technician supervisor. These positions were made possible through enhanced funding received through the Department of Health Services to meet performance standards.
County Medical Services Program (CMSP)
CMSP serves Imperial County residents aged 21-64 who are not eligible for Medi-Cal and whose income is at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. CMSP has property limits and other requirements that must be met to be eligible for program benefits. Some persons may be charged a share of the medical cost depending upon their income.
CMSP eligibility is time-limited to three months for individuals who have to pay a share of the medical cost, and six months for individuals without a share of cost. Persons who are non-citizens without satisfactory immigration status may be eligible to emergency services only for the month of application and the following month. Individuals may reapply at the end of their certification period.
CMSP coverage includes most of those benefits covered by the Medi-Cal program, with the exception of pregnancy-related services, long-term care, some prescription drugs, services provided by chiropractors, acupuncturists, and psychologists. Dental and vision benefits are limited.
Imperial County is one of 34 primarily rural California counties participating in CMSP. Due to decreased funding and increased service costs, CMSP program changes were implemented to ensure financial stability. Some of these changes are listed below:
Beginning October 1, 2005, Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company became the administrator of CMSP in place of the State’s Medi-Cal program, which has historically administered CMSP. Individuals receiving CMSP must obtain medical services from providers who are part of the CMSP Provider Network with Blue Cross in California or in the designated border-state areas of Oregon, Nevada and Arizona.
General Assistance (GA), also known as General Relief (GR), is county funded aid for the relief and support of indigent residents of the county who are not eligible for any other cash assistance program. Assistance is intended for those who are incompetent or incapacitated by age, disease or accident and not supported by any other means. An applicant who is employable must be actively seeking employment. Any real or personal property owned by the applicant and all income from any source is considered when determining eligibility for GA. Individuals who are disabled with the impairment expected to last at least twelve months must apply for SSI/SSP as a condition of GA eligibility.