CalWORKs Fact Sheet


California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)

Refugee & Immigrant Programs


The purpose of the CalWORKs program is to:

  • Promote and encourage work to enable families to become self-sufficient
  • Provide financial aid for children who lack financial support and care
  • Protect and preserve the family unit
  • Provide the opportunity for rehabilitation of the family whenever possible
  • Make available to children who cannot live in their own homes the kind of care and treatment best suited to their needs

Eligibility Factors

Basic eligibility factors for a child(ren) and a needy parent(s) or caretaker relative include:

Deprivation The aided child must be deprived of parental support or care because at least one parent is:

  • deceased; or
  • either physically or mentally incapacitated; or
  • the applicant parent is not working or working less than 100 hours per month; or
  • continually absent from the home.

AgeChildren may be eligible for CalWORKs until their 18th birthday or are 18 years old and in high school or trade school full time and are expected to complete either program before their 19th birthday.

Property – The property of a child and the parent(s) must be under the following limits:

  • Families without elderly members may have $10,888 combined personal and real property per family.
  • Families with elderly members (those who are 60 years of age or older) may have $16,333 combined personal and real property per family. Furniture, clothing, and appliances are exempt.
  • The family home is exempt provided the family lives in the home. The value of one automobile up to $32,045 is exempt.

Residence – There are no durational residency requirements for the CalWORKs program. Families who make their residence in California and who intend to continue to live in California may be eligible. Family members must be legal residents of the United States.

Applying for Aid

The application for CalWORKs includes completion of eligibility forms and an interview with a case-manager. Aid cannot begin until all conditions of eligibility have been verified. These conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Applying for a Social Security number.
  • Verifying citizenship, or showing proof of legal immigration status.
  • Verifying income and property.
  • Applying for potentially available income such as Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
  • Cooperating with the District Attorney and securing child support from the absent parent.

To speed the application process, please bring the following items when making application:

  • Identification such as Driver’s License or Identification Card for each parent or caretaker in the home
  • Social Security cards for every family member for whom aid is requested
  • Birth certificates for every family member in the home
  • Immunization records for every child under the age of six years for whom aid is requested
  • Registrations for each car owned, co-owned or being bought or leased
  • Ownership papers for land and/or buildings owned, co-owned or being bought
  • Receipts or bills of sale for any recreational vehicles such as boats, trailers, motor homes, etc.
  • Proof of the value of mutual funds, stocks, bonds, trust funds or cash surrender value of life insurance policies
  • Proof of citizenship or immigrant status such as a birth certificate or document from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) showing legal resident status.
  • Proof of earned and unearned income such as pay stubs and award letters for unemployment benefits, Social Security income, Veteran’s payments, and school grants or loans

Immediate need payments may be made for families with emergency situations while the CalWORKs application is being processed, if eligible. The maximum immediate need payment is $200.

Income Limits for Applicants

CalWORKs regulations provide for a gross income limit which is determined by subtracting $450 from the earned income of each employed person, then adding all remaining earned and unearned income to determine the gross income for family. That amount is then compared to the Minimum Basic Standard of Adequate Care (MBSAC) level for the family size. If the family’s total gross income after the $450 deduction exceeds the MBSAC level for the family size, the family is not eligible.

Client Responsibility

Once aid is granted, the CalWORKs family must report changes in their income, household composition, and property to their Eligibility Worker every 6-months on their Semi-Annual Eligibility Report (SAR 7) or at their annual redetermination. Some other things must be reported within 10 days of the occurrence:

  • A member of the household becomes a fleeing felon, is convicted of a drug felony, and/or violates a condition of parole/probation.
  • The combined earned and unearned monthly income of the household exceeds the Income Reporting Threshold (IRT) for their household size.
  • The household has an address change.

An annual redetermination of eligibility is required for CalWORKs recipients.

Work Disregards

When a cash aid recipient is employed or receives disability based income, CalWORKs regulations allow the following deductions from the monthly gross income:

  • $600.00 from the combined earnings, disability based income or a combination of both.
  • 50% of the earnings remaining after the $600 is deducted

Any income remaining after the deductions are subtracted from the monthly gross income is then subtracted from the MAP amount to determine the amount of the CalWORKs grant.

Maximum Aid Payment (MAP) Levels

Eligible personsNon-exempt MAPExempt MAP
Each Add’l00

The monthly Maximum Aid Payment (MAP) level is established by the California State Legislature based on family size.  Families who do not have any income other than CalWORKs receive MAP.  MAP levels vary based on whether or not the adults in the household are able to work.

  • The MAP level for households with adult caretakers who are able to work is lower than the MAP level for households with adult caretakers who are not able to work. This is called the non-exempt MAP level.
  • When the adults in the household are not able to work because of a temporary or permanent incapacity, or because the adult is a teen parent who attends high school, the family receives a higher MAP.  Child only cases, i.e., cases where no adults are receiving aid, also receive the higher MAP level.  This is called the exempt MAP level.

The table above reflects the current NON EXEMPT MAP, and EXEMPT MAP (monthly maximum aid payment) levels effective June 1, 2022.

Homeless Assistance

Families who are eligible for CalWORKs and who are homeless can apply for a special need payment to meet their costs for temporary and permanent housing.  The Temporary Homeless Assistance payment (usually 16 days) is based on size of the CalWORKs family.  The family is responsible for any amount that exceeds the daily allowance.  Homeless Assistance is available only once in a 12-month period unless the family is homeless due to domestic violence, natural disaster, inhabitability, or a physical or mental disability.  All exceptions must be verified by a third party agency.

CalWORKs Office Locations

There are five regional CalWORKs offices located throughout Contra Costa County.  Office hours are Monday – Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. For additional information on your eligibility to CalWORKs, contact the office nearest you.  By phone: (866) 663-3225

East CountyCentral CountyWest County
4545 Delta Fair Boulevard
Antioch, CA 94509
400 Ellinwood Way
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
1305 Macdonald Avenue
Richmond, CA 94801
151 Sand Creek Road
Suite A, Building 6
Brentwood, CA 94513
 151 Linus Pauling Drive
Hercules, CA 94547