Support CalWORKs Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Budget Priority

CWDA is requesting support for families in CalWORKs by allowing counties to offer mental health and substance abuse services to children in the program. CWDA is also requesting support to align statutory language on CalWORKs mental health services in the Welfare and Institutions Code with related statute on CalWORKs substance abuse services that permits county human services to contract with community-based providers for assessments when the county department is unable to do so.

County human services departments are responsible for providing CalWORKs welfare-to-work services, which in California include mental health and substance abuse treatment for the welfare-to-work eligible adult(s) in the household. There is funding specifically provided for these services separate from the funding provided for other welfare-to-work services in the CalWORKs Single Allocation. Since the CalWORKs Family Stabilization Program was implemented three years ago, experience has shown that the barriers to family stability and the ability for the adult in the household to obtain and maintain employment include the behavioral health issues of the children. Furthermore, in recent years, the federal Administration for Children and Families, with an eye towards expanding evidence-based practices in TANF, provided guidance that states may use TANF block grant funds for two-generation approaches. Allowing county human service departments to use their mental health and substance abuse funds to also serve children in CalWORKs cases is both in keeping with a two-generation approach and promotes the overall goal of family self-sufficiency by supporting the family system in achieving stability and well-being.