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CalWORKs Handbook:42-7.7 CalWORKs Domestic Violence/Abuse Policies and Procedures for Waivers and Exemptions

Effective Date: Immediately

Revised Date: October 20, 2014

Published By: E130/E113


This handbook is being revised to include clarification of retroactive waivers. A Domestic Abuse (DV) waiver of a CalWORKs rule or requirement may not be granted permanently by the county. The retroactive application of waivers is limited to a temporary three-month period with good cause.

Alameda County Social Services Agency (SSA) recognizes that the victim’s safety is of utmost importance. Therefore, the purpose of this revision is to provide clarification to staff about the DV process, including the applicability of good cause and DV Waivers for CalWORKs recipients.


Domestic abuse policies and procedures for the CalWORKs program were developed to identify and assist CalWORKs applicants and recipients who are past or present victims of Domestic Violence (DV) to obtain employment and become self-sufficient. Every consideration is to be provided to CalWORKs recipients and their families, who are past or present victims of domestic violence, in order that they are not placed at further risk of domestic violence, including strict confidentiality provisions and waiver or program requirements. When the DV causes a barrier to employment, good cause and/or program rule waivers may be recommended by the Social Worker (SW).

A recipient is defined as a person who is receiving CalWORKs aid payments. An undocumented individual or an individual receiving Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI/SSP) benefits does not meet all of the eligibility requirements to be a CalWORKs recipient. Therefore, an undocumented individual or an individual receiving Supplemental Social Security (SSI/SSP) benefits cannot receive a DV waiver from a program requirement that are not required of them.

The domestic violence/domestic abuse situation must temporarily prevent, or significantly impair the participant’s ability to be regularly employed or to participate in Welfare-to-Work (WTW) activities in order to be eligible for a DV waiver, exemption and/or extender.


  1. Definitions: Domestic Violence/Abuse and Domestic Relationship
  2. Identification of Domestic Violence Victims
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Safe Communications
  5. Informing CalWORKs Applicants/Recipients about Domestic Violence Services
  6. Standards of Proof and Evidence for Identification of Domestic Violence
  7. Planning Domestic Abuse Services within the Welfare to Work (WTW) Plan
  8. CalWORKs Program Requirement Waivers, Good Cause and WTW Exemptions and Extenders
  9. Domestic Violence Training
  10. Process
  11. Attachments
  12. References


I. Definitions: Domestic Violence/Abuse (DV) and Domestic Relationship


A.  Definition of Domestic Violence/Abuse (DV)

DV is assaultive, coercive, or battering behavior occurring within a domestic relationship. DV behavior includes, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:

  1. Physical abuse
  2. Sexual abuse, including coercive sex
  3. Sexual activity involving a child in the home
  4. Psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse
  5. Intimidation, threats, or behavior that puts the individual in fear of her/his safety
  6. Isolation
  7. Economic control
  8. Stalking
  9. Neglect or deprivation of medical care
  10. Destruction of property or pets


References: California Welfare and Institutions (W&I) Code, Section 11495.12;

California State Department of Social Services (DSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP), Section 42-701.2(d)



B. Definition of Domestic Relationship

Domestic relationship is defined as:

  1. Adults or minors who are current or former spouses
  2. Adults or minors who live together or have lived together
  3. Adults or minors who are dating or have dated
  4. Adults or minors who are engaged in or have engaged in sexual relations
  5. Adults or minors who are related by blood or adoption
  6. Adults or minors who are related or formerly related by marriage
  7. Persons who have a child in common
  8. Adults or minors who are engaged or were formerly engaged to be married
  9. Adults or minors engaged in same-sex relationships
  10. Minor children of persons listed above
  11. Adults or minors acting in concert with or on behalf of someone identified above

Reference: MPP Section 42-701.2(d)

II. Identification of Domestic Violence Victims

SSA shall provide CalWORKs applicants and recipients opportunities to self-identify as domestic violence victims.

A. The Domestic Abuse Brochure, Domestic Abuse Brochure, Form 40-87 shall be included in the application and redetermination packets.

B.Applicants or recipients are not required to answer any questions specific to abuse before they disclose DV.

C. SSA shall create a safe space for victims to disclose DV

D. SSA will have posters identifying DV resources in public areas

E. Phones shall be made available for abuse victims to call resources in a confidential manner

F. Private rooms will be provided for staff to discuss DV issues individually

SSA shall not penalize any victims who chose not to self-identify. Thus, failure to disclose DV does not prevent them from receiving a waiver, exemption or extender during the time of abuse if disclosed it at a later date. When an applicant or recipient discloses DV, they must be referred to a Social Worker (SW) via Form 50-160. Upon receipt of the 50-160, the SW will conduct an in-depth assessment that includes a discussion of resources and the applicant’s/recipient’s options. The SW staff shall maintain an updated referral/resource list of domestic violence supportive services, including (but not limited to):

  1. DV service providers
  2. Counseling
  3. Support groups
  4. Legal services and advocacy
  5. Immigration resources
  6. Criminal justice system victim advocates
  7. Housing/Shelter resources
  8. Medical services
  9. Financial assistance for victims of crime

References: MPP Section 42-715.1, ACIN I-02-06.

III. Confidentiality

A. Any identifying information pertaining to an applicant or recipient who claims to be a past or present victim of abuse and their dependents, whether provided by the victim or a third party, shall be kept confidential. Information shall not be released to any outside person, organizations, or SSA employees not directly involved with the client's case. Information should only be disclosed when it is required by law or authorized in writing by the client.

In CalWIN, completion of the "Display Domestic Abuse Summary" window is required to identify DV victims, and to keep their information from being disclosed via the Client Automatic Response System (CARS) by phone or on the Internet. It must not show the name of the abuser or the verification source. These fields should be entered as "Abuser: Unknown" and "Verification Source: Other Conclusive Information"

B. This information shall be used by SSA solely for the purpose of referral to services, determining eligibility for waivers, or developing an individualized plan for the client. Confidentiality is governed by County, State, and Federal regulations.

C. The above provisions shall not preclude SSA from collecting population or demographic data on domestic violence in accordance with State and/or Federal program requirements.

Reference: MPP §42-715.3


IV. Safe Communications

A. In order to ensure confidentiality and safety, the Social Worker shall discuss with the individual how to provide future communications in a way that does not jeopardize the safety of the client. This includes notice of sanctions and denial of waivers.

B. The applicant or recipient shall be provided the opportunity to choose among the following alternative methods for receiving notices of action:

1. Mailing to an alternative address such as the following:

  • Confidential address obtained through the Safe at Home Program, Refer to CalWIN How to 293;
  • Homeless address; or
  • P.O. box address.

2. Picking up notices at the SSA office, after being informed by telephone that the notice has been issued.

The client’s selection of method for receiving notices shall be documented in writing with her/his signature.

Reference: MPP §42-715.4

V. Informing CalWORKs Applicants/Recipients about Domestic Violence Services

A. Employment Counselors (EC's), Eligibility Technicians (ET's), and/or other appropriate staff shall notify all applicants and recipients verbally and in writing of the following:

  1. CalWORKs program waivers available to DV victims;
  2. Good cause exception to child support cooperation;
  3. Resources including DV and other support/community services;
  4. Confidentiality protections and policies and any required disclosures/limits to confidentiality;
  5. County assistance in tailoring welfare-to-work plans to meet the needs of DV victims; and
  6. The provision that certain immigrants who are DV victims may be eligible to self-petition for permanent residency and obtain public assistance, and may be eligible for exceptions to sponsor deeming requirements.

The above information shall be included in the clients’ application/orientation and renewal materials. The Domestic Abuse Brochure, Form 40-87, may be used to provide the above information in writing. The brochure is available in English, Spanish, Cambodian, Farsi, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

B. At any time that compliance with CalWORKs is an issue (e.g., when the recipient has been sanctioned or is at risk of sanction), SSA shall explore with the recipient if DV is an issue, and give the recipient a copy of the Domestic Abuse Brochure, Form 40-87.

Reference: MPP Section 42-715.1

VI. Standards of Proof and Evidence for Identification of Domestic Violence

A. Whenever an applicant/recipient discloses to SSA staff that they are a victim of DV, they shall be referred to a SW for a DV assessment. The SW is the dedicated staff to work with individuals regarding DV regulations, and have completed mandated training. The SW will assess if the individual is eligible for waivers of program regulations, by reviewing the time in which the domestic abuse prevented the individual from seeking employment, obtaining employment or participating in WTW activities.

B. Victims of DV can provide proof of abuse in either of the following manners, but not limited to:

  1. A sworn statement by a victim of past or present DV shall be sufficient to establish DV unless SSA documents in writing an independent, reasonable basis to find the recipient not credible
  2. Police, government agency, or court records or files;
  3. Documentation from a DV program, legal, clerical, medical or other professional from whom the applicant or recipient has sought assistance in dealing with the DV;
  4. Other evidence, such as a third party statement from any other individual (e.g., neighbor, friend, and/or family member) with knowledge of the circumstances that provide the basis for the claim, or physical evidence of DV; or
  5. Any other evidence that supports the statement, including timeframes and details.

C. SSA shall NOT contact the person believed to be the perpetrator of DV, or any other person deemed by the victim to be unsafe to contact, for the purpose of corroborating, verifying, or refuting evidence of DV.

References: W&I Code §11495.25; MPP §42-715.12

VII. Planning Domestic Abuse Services within the Welfare to Work (WTW) Plan

Recipients identified, as victims of DV shall be referred to staff that are trained in serving individuals who are victims of domestic abuse. Individual shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis to develop a WTW plan, which will not place the individual at further risk and to which they can agree. The plan shall be designed with confidentiality and the health and safety of the individual and his or her children as the primary consideration.

A. The Social Worker will complete a DV assessment, via the Domestic Violence Assessment Tool, Form 50-206. The SW shall explore any safety issues for any recipient or family member who self-identifies (or is otherwise identified) as an abuse victim. The SW will determine if the DV prevents the recipient from complying with any of the CalWORKs WTW requirements. The SW will assess if the domestic abuse significantly impairs the recipient’s ability to participate in WTW employment activities, or is a barrier to employment. Upon completion of the assessment, the SW will make a referral to the appropriate SSA staff.

The SW, will determine if any waivers or exemptions are to be granted.

B. The SW and the EC shall assist DV victims to remove barriers to employment. The WTW plan should reflect employment, and/or educational plans, supportive service, to meet safety and confidentiality needs.

DV services shall include, but not limited to:

  • Participation in DV counseling
  • Legal services and court proceedings related to the DV
  • Medical treatment
  • Other support services for DV survivors
  • Relocation activities
  • Naturalization classes for immigrant battered women
  • Substance abuse treatment programs

C. The EC and SW shall include flexibility in individual case planning to accommodate the needs of DV victims and survivors. For example, a survivor shall not be penalized for a missed training appointment if s/he had to appear in court or seek medical care related to the abuse.

If participant is exempt from WTW, they will need to become an “exempt volunteer” to receive supportive services for these activities.

If DV services are part of the WTW plan, the participant shall provide verification of participation in such services to SSA.

The WTW plan shall include consideration of, but is not limited to the following:

1. The degree to which domestic abuse is a barrier to obtaining employment
2. Flexibility to accommodate any prior or current legal obligations or other activities or issues related to the domestic abuse
3. Special cultural or religious needs
4. Other services for the victim and his or her children include, but not limited to the following:

  • Community domestic abuse services
  • Individual counseling of the participant and children
  • Substance abuse services
  • Medical and public health services
  • Mental health counseling
  • Immigration services
  • Parenting skills training
  • Independent living skills training
  • Financial planning
  • Relocation activities
  • Legal services


VIII. CalWORKs Program Requirement Waivers, Good Cause, and WTW Exemptions

A. CalWORKs Program Requirement Waivers:

It is important that staff properly and fairly address requests/recommendations for a CalWORKs recipient to receive a waiver of the 48-month time limit due to past or current DV. 

SSA shall NOT assume that every abuse victim automatically needs a waiver; During the DV assessment, the Social Worker shall explore with the recipient ways to meet her or his safety and confidentiality needs while also promoting her or his self-sufficiency.

Program Waivers are made for participants (and their children) who are DV victims if the DV prevents the individual from obtaining employment or participating in WTW activities.

The Social Worker shall recommend a waiver on a case-by-case basis for certain program requirements that would make it more difficult for DV victims or their children to escape DV and/or would be detrimental to or unfairly penalize past or present victims of DV.

CalWORKs program requirements that can be waived include (but are not limited to) those listed below:

  1. Paternity establishment and child support cooperation requirements;
  2. Time limits on receipt of assistance (this will stop the CalWORKs 48 month clock and NOT the TANF 60 month clock);
  3. Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule (Refer to MFG Handbook 44.3.14 for details)
  4. Requirements that minor parents live in an adult-supervised setting (minor parent rule)
  5. Deeming and immigration status requirements for immigrants who are victims of abuse; and,
  6. Work requirements
  7. Education requirements (based on the teen-school and Cal Learn requirement)

Reference: DSS Manual-EAS Section 42-715.512

Note: Program eligibility requirements regarding deprivation, income and assets cannot be waived.

Recipients can apply for waivers at any time. At no time will the recipient's decision not to disclose eligibility for waivers due to abuse prevent disclosure at a later date, nor will it prevent future access to services or waivers. Program requirements may be waived retroactively.

B. Good Cause Determinations:
An individual may be granted Good Cause from WTW participation when it has been determined that there is a condition or other circumstances that temporarily prevents or significantly impairs the individual’s ability to be regularly employed or participate in WTW activities. Good Cause determination is completed on a case-by-case basis. 

Examples of what may constitute Good Cause for not participating in WTW activities for victims of domestic violence, but are not limited to:

  • Currently fleeing the abuser and is in temporary housing or homeless 
  • Recently entered a shelter 
  • Concerned about the safety of his/her children 
  • The participant is party to a restraining order or divorce action against the abuser 
  • Undergoing counseling to cope with the side effects of the abuse, including children

Good cause does not stop the CalWORKs 48 and TANF 60-month lifetime clocks. Aid shall not be denied or reduced until the agency has made a determination about the exemption or good cause exception.

1. Non-cooperation with Child Support Enforcement program regulations:

The SW determines good cause for exemption from cooperation with establishing paternity and child/spousal support requirements. If the recipient is not participating with Child Support Enforcement program regulations, due to potential physical or emotional harm, they must demonstrate that such cooperation will increase the risk of domestic abuse.

Follow the steps to refer recipients that claim good cause for non-cooperation with child support:

1. The ET will send Form 50-160 (Referral for Help with Supportive Services) to the SW. Complete good cause request in the Referral Reason area of the form
2. The SW will assess the recipient’s case to determine if good cause shall be granted or denied
3. If good cause is granted, the SW will complete Form 50-172 and forward to the ET of record
4. The ET will update CalWIN to reflect ‘Good Cause’ on the Display Absent Parent Summary window on the Claim Details tab
5. If good cause is not granted, the SW will complete Form 50-172 and forward the document to WebFiles and ET of record
6. Enter Case Comments in CalWIN

Reference California DSS Manual EAS 82-512.1.11

2. Not participating in WTW activities:

A recipient shall be excused from participation in WTW activities for good cause when it is determined that there is a condition that temporarily prevents, or significantly impairs, the individual’s ability to be regularly employed or to participate in WTW activities. The participant must demonstrate that such cooperation will increase the risk of DV. Refer to Section VIII and Section X on how to make a determination.

3. Approval/Denial of Good Cause Determinations:

Approval or Denial of Good Cause shall be in writing by the ET/EC and shall state the reason for the denial via form CW2186B. Denials may be appealed through the standard grievance and fair hearing procedures.


Reference CalWORKs Handbook. 43-2.2

C. Welfare to Work (WTW) Exemptions

A WTW “exemption” excuses a participant from complying with WTW plan requirements or activities. The requirements can be waived, on a case-by-case basis, for so long as the domestic abuse prevents, or significantly impairs the individual’s ability to be regularly employed or to participate in WTW activities. Exemptions of work and educational requirements shall be granted for a period not to exceed six months at a time and must be reviewed after three months. At the end of the exemption period, the SW will review the participant’s case to determine whether an exemption is still needed, if so, then another exemption may be granted so long as the participant continues to meet the criteria for receiving an exemption. Exemptions shall not exceed twelve months without a Program Manager approval. Exemptions in excess of 12-months shall be forwarded to the Supervisor to request a Program Manager approval.

Individuals who receive a WTW exemption are eligible for support services if they volunteer to participate in WTW activities. WTW activities may include DV services such as counseling, support groups, legal services, etc.

If the exempted individual is participating in DV services, then she/he can enter into a DV services plan, for which the SW shall document in which activities the individual has chosen to participate, the expected number of hours per week, and the support services needed. Individuals shall be referred to the EC to develop an Exempt Volunteer (WTW) plan in order to receive supportive services. The individual does not need to participate in the WTW hourly activities per week (refer to WTW Handbook 42-7.32: Exempt Volunteers in the WTW program).

D. CalWORKs Time on Aid (TOA) Extender

A CalWORKs Time on Aid (TOA) extender is an exception that allows the individuals to continue to receive CalWORKs after their 48-Month Time Limit has been reached.

A victim/survivor of past or present domestic abuse may be eligible for a CalWORKs TOA extender when it is determined that the domestic abuse impaired the individual’s ability to participate in WTW employment activities or to be regularly employed.

References: MPP Sections 42-701.2(v), 42-750.11, 42-711.6

IX. Domestic Violence Training

SSA designated staff assisting CalWORKs recipients shall complete mandated DV training. DV training and certification for SW’s is 40 hours. The training shall include the following:

A. The dynamics of abuse; relationships between domestic violence and welfare; cultural issues of domestic violence.

B. Implications of CalWORKs requirements for domestic violence victims; understanding CalWORKs provisions that are specific to domestic violence.

C. How Alameda County will strive to minimize the risks to, and best meet the needs of, domestic violence victims, including but not limited to the following:

  1. How to give effective notice of waivers, referrals, and other assistance available to abuse victims;
  2. How to create an environment for abuse survivors to self-identify;
  3. How to appropriately refer victims to services such as counseling, legal, shelter, etc; collaborating with local domestic violence programs;
  4. An understanding of the legal options and issues for abuse victims;
  5. An understanding of the waivers that are available and SSA’s procedures for implementing waivers for abuse victims, making good cause determinations, and how an applicant/recipient can prove abuse and support good cause claims;
  6. The county’s procedure for maintaining confidentiality;
  7. How safety issues may arise in the context of welfare-to-work programs; how to tailor individual work/education plans in a way that meets the safety needs of victims and enhances their self-sufficiency.

Reference: MPP §42-715.6

X. Process

The following process shall be followed in conjunction with the CalWIN How-To’s linked in the sections below. When an individual discloses DV information to SSA staff, a referral to the SW shall be made using Form 50-160. After the SW interviews the individual, they will notify the ET or EC of their findings via the 50-172. Inputting the exemption/extender is the responsibility of the ET and EC.


The SW shall:

1. Receive DV Referral (Form 50-160) and enter CalWIN case comments.

2. Interview the individual and document findings using the Domestic Violence Assessment Tool, Form 50-206, to determine DV services needed. Move further down. Provide case management of DV services

3. Enter CalWIN Case Comments to reflect the DV Assessment findings. Case Comments should include the following, but not limited to:

  • Referrals made
  • Future appointment dates, if any
  • Police reports or other relevant documents received
  • Client Assistance Funds (CAF) if provided
  • Shelter services offered
4. Complete Form 50-172 based on DV Assessment findings and forward to the appropriate SSA staff (ET, EC, Social Worker in the Family Stabilization unit);

5. Assist EC with the development of the WTW2 Plan to include DV services; and;

6. Apply DV special indicator and enter Case Comments

B. WTW2 Plan with DV Services:

EC shall:

1. Receive Form 50-172 from the SW:

2. Review WTW case for participation history in Employment Services. Case review should include, but not limited to:

  • Participation in WTW activities
  • Employment history
  • Prior CW 61(s) ,
  • Instances of non-compliance and sanctions
  • Case Comments

3. Consult with the SW to assist in developing or amending the WTW 2 Plan (Refer to handbook 42-7.28: Welfare to Work Assessment)

4. Enter appropriate CalWIN entries (Refer to CalWIN How-to 291)

5. Schedule plan-signing appointment with participant

6. Conduct plan-signing appointment with participant

  • If participant does not agree with the plan, the EC shall refer the individual to the SW
  • A new or amended plan may be necessary
  • An exemption may be granted. Complete and mail CW2186B notifying the participant of approval of WTW exemption (Refer to CalWIN How-to 294)

7. Update the Employment Participation Status in CalWIN

8. Enter WTW2 Plan in CalWIN (Refer to CalWIN How To 302 on how to Develop and Amend a WTW Plan);

9. Enter CalWIN Case Comments

ET shall:

1. Receive Form 50-172 and complete “Domestic Abuse Summary” window in CalWIN as appropriate.

2. Review for DV special indicator and enter indicator if missing

3. Run EDBC and authorize case when requested

C. DV Exemptions/Extenders:

EC Shall:

1. Receive Form 50-172 from the SW

2. Review WTW case for history. Case review should include, but not limited to:

  • Participation in WTW activities
  • Employment history
  • Prior CW 61(s)
  • Instances of non-compliance and sanctions
  • Case Comments

3. Update the Employment Participation Status in CalWIN, as appropriate

4. Complete and mail CW2186B notifying the participant of approval of WTW exemption (Refer to CalWIN How-to 294)

5. Notify the ET to run EDBC and authorize

6. Enter CalWIN Case Comments

ET Shall:

1. Receive notification of approval of TOA exemptions from the EC

2. Enter appropriate DV entries in CalWIN (Refer to CalWIN How-to 291)

3. Run EDBC and authorize approval of exemption months

4 Wait two days after authorization and review TRAC in MEDS to validate CalWORKs clock has un-ticked the correct months 
5. Enter Case Comments

6. Complete and mail CW2186B in CalWIN informing recipient of approval of CalWORKs TOA exemption (Refer to CalWIN How-to 294)

7. Complete manual variables and mail NOA M40-107 informing individual of adjustment of the CalWORKs 48 month clock

D. Ending DV Exemptions:

EC shall (When exemption period ends):

1. Receive notification that WTW DV exemption has expired

2. Notify the ET to run EDBC and Save Employment Services Exemption Results to Register the Participant

3. Develop or Amend the WTW2 Plan

4. Schedule participant for the appropriate WTW activity(ies)

5. Enter CalWIN Case Comments

ET shall:

1. Receive notification that the exemption period has expired from the EC

2. Run EDBC and save Employment Service Exemption Results to register participate in WTW

3. Authorize Case

4. Complete and mail CW2186B informing the recipient that they no longer qualify for a WTW and TOA exemption (Refer to CalWIN How-to 294)

5. Enter CalWIN Case Comments

XI. Attachments

CalWIN How-To 276, ES - Update/Maintain Employment Services Activity Status.
CalWIN How-To 291, Enter a Domestic Violence Exemption and Extender
CalWIN How to 293, Safe at Home Address
CalWIN How to 294, Request and Complete Manual NOA CW 2186B.
Request for Help with Supportive Services, Form 50-160
Social Worker Determination of Good Cause, CW and WTW Domestic Violence Waiver Request, 50-172
Domestic Abuse Brochure, Form 40-87 English, Spanish, Cambodian, Farsi, Chinese, Vietnamese

CW 2.1
CW2190B (Rev 6/11)
CalWORKs Handbook. 43-2.2   Department of Child Support Services Good Cause Determination
WTW Handbook 42-7.32, Exempt Volunteers in the WTW program
WTW Handbook 42-7.6, Supportive Services in the Welfare to Work Program
CalWORKs and Employment Newsletter 07-02: Domestic Violence Exemption/Extender Policy for Timing-Out Recipients

XII. References

ACL 08-15
ACL 06-60
ACL 02-28
ACL 00-08
ACIN 1-02-06
ACIN I-60-09
ACIN 1-41-07


DSS Manual EAS Sections 42-301, 42-302, 42-712, 42-715.





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