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San Luis Obispo County, California



California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids

The goal of the San Luis Obispo County CalWORKs program is to provide full services to families in the community who need support to become self-sufficient. CalWORKs is California’s version of the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.


How to Apply for CalWORKs

The CalWORKs program provides time-limited monthly cash payments to families with children under 19 who qualify until graduation from High School. At least one child in your home must need cash aid because of the death, illness, injury, unemployment or continued absence of one or both parents. Your family's property and income are the other major factors that determine if your family will be able to get aid. You can only receive CalWORKs as an adult for 60 months in your lifetime unless you are exempt. There is no time limit for children.
Even if you are working, own a house or are married, you may be eligible for cash aid to help pay your living expenses. Any person has the right to apply for CalWORKs. It is a good idea when your family is in need of aid to first contact the Department of Social Services because so many factors must be considered. Click here to find the office nearest you.

It is also possible for residents of San Luis Obispo County to apply for CalWORKs on-line at My Benefits CalWIN.  Click here for instructions and more information
You can view a video of your rights and responsibilities under CalWORKshere.


Welfare-to-Work Activities

You will need to participate in Welfare-to-Work activities as the parent of a CalWORKs child unless you are exempt. Welfare-to-Work provides job-related services to assist you in finding and keeping a job and in advancing to higher paying jobs that will lead to self-sufficiency for your family. You can visit websites that offer jobs by clicking on Employment Links.  Job services such as counseling, job preparedness, job search, training, self-esteem and motivational activities as well as supportive services such as childcare, transportation, English language classes, substance abuse and mental health treatment, work clothes and tools are available to help you succeed. These services, offered by a partnership of public and private agencies, are family-focused and specific to the needs of your family.  Click on Workforce Investment Board to go to the website for information about the America's Job Centers of California in the county where many of these services are provided to both CalWORKs participants and to job seekers who do not get help through our programs.
In partnership with Employment Resource Specialists, you will create a Welfare-to-Work plan that details the steps you will take and services that you will need to become self sufficient and no longer need aid. There are some supportive services available for up to a year after you stop receiving monthly cash aid to help you keep your job and achieve self-sufficiency.
If you are a college student already enrolled in a degree or certificate program leading to self-supporting employment, your classes may qualify as Welfare to Work activities.
If you receive CalWORKs, you will automatically receive Medi-Cal benefits and your household may also automatically qualify for CalFresh (SNAP) benefits.


Fatherhood Involvement

As part of our TANF mission, we support promoting the involvement of fathers in the lives of their sons and daughters. Click here for information about the Positive Opportunities for Parenting Success (POPS) program in San Luis Obispo County.



CalWORKs offers a program called Diversion that helps support the safety of your children and the stability of the family by providing a one-time cash payment, or services such as child care, when your family only needs short-term help to handle a temporary emergency. Your family must meet most of the CalWORKs program requirements mentioned above in order to get a Diversion payment.


How do I receive my Cash Aid Payments?

You can choose to have your payments issued either on a plastic debit card or directly to your bank account each month.
Most families have their benefits automatically deposited during the first three days of each month on a plastic debit card called an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. Your EBT card lets you access your benefits at Point of Sale (POS) devices in stores or at Automated Teller Machines (ATM). Click here for a listing of locations where you can use your EBT card without paying a fee to get cash or get cash-back with purchase. Click here to go to the EBT website to locate, by your Zip code, food stores and businesses that accept EBT cards.
Your monthly benefits are placed directly in your checking or savings account at your own bank each month if you select Direct Deposit which is the other payment option.


California's Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program

You can qualify for this program if:

  • you have a good driving record
  • you are at least 19 years of age
  • you have been licensed to drive for at least three years
  • you own a vehicle that is valued at $20,000 or less
  • your income qualifies
    Household Size Maximum Income
    1 Person $29,425
    2 People $38,825
    3 People $50,225
    4 People $60,625
    5 People $71,025
    6 People  $81,425 
    7 People  $91,825 
    8 People  $102,225 

    For information call 1-866-602-8861 or click here to go to the Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program website.


    Help for the Homeless

    The Department of Social Services collaborates with community partners from all over the county on the Homeless Services Oversight Council (HSOC).  The HSOC website provides a central location where you can find information and community resources about all kinds of help for homeless and needy individuals and families living in San Luis Obispo county.  Click here to go to the Homeless Services website.


    Community Resources

    Click here to go to an extensive list of community resources provided to the residents of San Luis Obispo County. Service providers listed include federal, state and county agencies, non-government agencies, non-profit groups, faithh-based organizations and businesses. The listing contains all kinds of services including basic needs such as food, clothing and housing to health, medical, counseling, and support groups.


    CalWORKs Caseload Statistics

    Click here for CalWORKs caseload statistics.


    Click here to go to the Department of Social Services home page.