Social welfare programs were enacted to help the most vulnerable citizens in a society by providing aid and services in their time of need. This temporary assistance enables these citizens to climb out of financial potholes in order to become more productive and independent. The state of California offers several programs to help individuals and families address several critical needs, such as health care, food and cash aid. The application process depends on which program you need and can range from an online application to going into your local welfare office.
One of the staples in welfare is funding for food. In California, CalFresh has taken the place of the older food stamp program. Through CalFresh, low income individuals and families use electronic benefits loaded onto cards in order to purchase groceries in a wide variety of marketplaces. You may apply for these benefits either in person at your local welfare office or online through the CalFresh website (calfresh.ca.gov.) You may also print the application, fill it out and send it in via mail. Fill out the application as completely as you can and sign it. Ensure your contact information is correct because you will be called for an interview, at which time you will need documents proving your identity, your income and expenses. These include check stubs for the previous month and your recent bills. Once the requested information is provided, you should get benefits within 30 days of the application date if the application is approved. Expedited services may be available for those applicants in dire need.
Another social program run by the state of California provides health care to needy residents. Applying for the Medi-Cal program is much like applying for CalFresh. You may choose to apply in person at the social services department in your county or you may go online through the Ebenefits California website (benefitscal.org.) If you are eligible for federal aid such as Social Security supplemental income, the Social Security department will set up your Medi-Cal program for you. If you receive payments through CalWorks, there is no need to fill out a separate application.
For cash aid toward other living expenses, you will need to apply for CalWORKS, which you can do through any of the 58 county offices for the Department of Social Services. Aid is determined based on your short-term or long-term needs. Once you fill out an application through your specific county welfare department, an interview will be scheduled so you may provide documentation to support your application. Receiving this aid automatically enrolls you in a program designed to move recipients off welfare and into the workforce known as Welfare to Work, or WIW. You do not have to apply separately for WIW. Receiving aid will require you to participate unless the county finds you exempt.
The federal government funds the Women and Children program, or WIC, which helps pregnant women or families with children under five years of age supplement their nutrition through specific grocery staples. Instead of giving you benefits to buy your own food, you will be given vouchers to buy specific items such as milk, cheese, peanut butter and cereal. To apply for this program, contact your local WIC agency to be assessed to see if you qualify and what types of documents you will need to provide. Call 1-888-WIC-WORKS (1-888-942-9675) to find the agency near you.
- California Department of Social Services: About CDSS
- CalFresh: How to Apply
- California Department of Health Care Services: Medi-Cal: How to Apply
- California Department of Social Services: California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
- California Department of Social Services: Welfare-to-Work
- California Department of Public Health: WIC Home
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