The Basics

CalWORKs (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) helps families with children who do not have enough money for their basic needs because a parent is unemployed, disabled, not around to care for the children, in jail, or has died. The person who takes care of the children may not be able to afford to pay for the family's food, rent, clothing, and other basic living expenses.

CalWORKs helps the parent, or other person taking care of children, with:

  • Money
  • Finding a job
  • CalFresh (formerly Food Stamps)
  • Medi-Cal, and
  • Sometimes additional benefits.

The money for CalWORKs comes from a federal program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), so you might hear it called that sometimes. In other states, it has different names. Some people just call it “welfare.”

Note: Officially, a family getting CalWORKs cash benefits is called an "Assistance Unit" or AU. To keep things simple, DB101 calls an AU a "family."

Each of California’s 58 counties runs its own CalWORKs program. To learn more about what benefits or services you might get, contact your county social services agency.

Learn more