The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is a time-limited program that provides financial assistance to eligible needy families with (or expecting) children to help pay for housing, food, utilities, clothing, medical care, and other necessary expenses.
Generally, families are eligible to receive cash aid and services when:

  • The eligible children are deprived of parental support or care due to:
    • Death;
    • Incapacity;
    • Unemployment/underemployment; or
    • Continued absence of one or both parents.

  • A needy or non-needy caretaker provides care for foster children.

The program also provides assistance with the following types of services:

Receiving many of the above services enables parents receiving CalWORKs assistance to become self-sufficient.

In order to receive CalWORKs benefits, the following will be taken into consideration for every member of the family when making a determination:

  • Citizenship status or immigrant status;
  • Age;
  • Income;
  • Resource;
  • Assets; and
  • Other factors.

See Quick Facts and Eligibility for more details. In addition, you can also reference the Other Programs and Services section for further information.

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Needy families may apply for assistance online or by coming in to one of our local DPSS Office locations. However, the easiest and quickest way to apply for CalWORKs is online at or by selecting the icon below:


When applying, you can ask for immediate help if your family has little or no cash and needs emergency housing, food, utilities, clothing, or medical care.


The DPSS office will set up a mandatory face-to-face interview with a CalWORKs Eligibility Worker. During the interview, the CalWORKs Eligibility Worker will:

  • Obtain the necessary facts and verify the applicant’s eligibility to the program;
  • Advise and explain the rules and responsibilities to the applicants; and
  • Have the participant complete the required application and forms and provide proof of income and property, citizenship status, age, social security number, residence, shelter costs, work or school status and other information for each family member.

*New Applications*: Families who are applying for benefits could schedule an appointment online by accessing the Your Benefits Now website at
Families could access some of the CalWORKs rules by clicking on the following links:

In addition, families could click on the Most Commonly Requested Documents link to obtain:

  • A list of the required documents needed to apply for the program and/or service needed; and
  • The name and description of some agencies where you are able to get the required documents.

Fingerprinting: All adult family members must be fingerprinted and photo imaged. However, some family members may qualify for an exemption. Ask your Eligibility Worker if you qualify for an exemption. Please note that the fingerprinting and photo imaging information is not shared outside the agency.


There are many other programs and benefits for which a CalWORKs family may qualify:

  • Medical Coverage: In most cases, each member of the family getting CalWORKs will also qualify for Medi-Cal which will pay for most medical costs. The County will explain this benefit to the applicant.

  • Welfare-To-Work Program: The Welfare- To-Work Program helps family members acquire the skills needed to get a job. The County will determine if a family must participate in Welfare-To-Work activities as a requirement for CalWORKs. Families may also volunteer to participate.

  • Child Care: Families that receive CalWORKs may also be eligible for child care services, such as help paying child care costs. The County will explain to the family what services are available.

  • CalFresh Program (formerly Food Stamp Program): In most cases, eligible CalWORKs families qualify for food stamps to help meet their food needs. Often, the CalWORKs application is automatically used by the County to assess the family's eligibility to CalFresh benefits.

  • Child Support: If the family includes a child aided by CalWORKs whose parent is not living with the caretaker, the County will automatically notify the local Child Support Agency (LCSA). The LCSA will provide all necessary child support services, including establishing paternity, establishing and enforcing a support obligation and collecting support payments. If the child's paternity has not been previously established, the adult caretaker is required to help the local child support agency do so. This may mean participating in an interview and submitting the child to blood testing if the alleged parent, once contacted, refuses to acknowledge paternity.
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