domestic violence survivors - calworks

What Survivors of Domestic Violence Should
Know About the CalWORKs Program

(1)  You have the right to be believed
Your sworn statement is the only proof of abuse that the County should need.  Abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, economic control, stalking, isolation, threats, and other types of coercion.

(2)  You have the right to confidentiality

What you tell the County should stay between you and the County.  You also decide how the County contacts you (by phone, by mail, in person, or in any other way that will keep you and your children safe).

(3)  You have the right to get help from the County
You can get cash, child care, Food Stamps, and health insurance.  You can also get counseling for you and your children (domestic abuse, mental health, and substance abuse counseling), relocation services, immigration services, and training (on spending your money, living on your own, and being a parent). 

(4)  The time you spend in counseling or training counts as “work.” 
The County forces most adults to work or look for a job to get CalWORKs.  You can get counseling, services, or training instead of working.

(5)  You have right to keep the name of your child’s biological parent a secret
You do not have to name your child’s biological parent if it would put you or your child in danger.  When the County ask for the name, tell the County you need an “exemption” because of “abuse.”  The District Attorney should NOT go after the missing parent for child support EXCEPT at your request.

(6)  You have the right NOT to do things that would make it harder to escape abuse, be harmful to you or your children, or unfairly punish you or your family.
There are a lot of rules families must follow to get CalWORKs.  But, you do not have to follow every rule, if doing so would put you or your family at risk.  For example, you can be excused from rules that: (a) limit how long you can get welfare; (b) force teen parents to live with an adult; (c) punish you for having kids while on welfare; or (d) punish you for getting bad grades in school.

(7)  You may be able to get emergency aid and housing, in addition to your monthly check
If you have an emergency, you can get a welfare check right away and extra money for clothes, furniture, and storage.  You can also ask for emergency housing, which includes money for a motel, last month’s rent, security deposit, rental fees, and a utility deposit.  Emergency housing may not be available, if the County gave you emergency housing in the past 2 years. 

(8)  You may be able to get a big, one-time payment (instead of a smaller check each month), if this money helps you get back on your feet
The idea behind “diversion” is that you get a big lump sum instead of getting a smaller check each month.  You can use the money to move into a new apartment, move to another city, buy or fix a car, or anything else that will make you self-supporting.  You must ask for “diversion” when you first apply for CalWORKs.

(9)  You may be able to get welfare if you are an undocumented immigrant
You can always get welfare for children who were born in the U.S., are U.S. citizens, or are permanent residents.  You can also get welfare for yourself or undocumented children if: (a) you were abused by your spouse or the children were abused by a parent; and (b) the abuser is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; and (c) you have applied for residency under the Violence Against Women Act.  If you haven’t applied for residency yet, call East San Jose Community Law Center at (408) 254-0444.

(10)  You have the right to a fair, third-party decision, if you and the County can’t agree
The County does not have the last word.  If the County violates any of your rights or makes you do something unfair, you can appeal.  Call Community Legal Services at (408) 283-3700 for help with your appeal.

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