Other Services for Low-Income Families in California


California offers several programs to help low-income families going through a rough time. These programs range from cash assistance to medical insurance assistance. California provides educational services for early childhood development and unemployment assistance. For those receiving unemployment insurance, these services provide help to keep children and families healthy and stable during a time of need. Relief is provided to families who are considered to be low-income or very low-income. Temporary relief is also provided to families going through a difficult time due to loss of employment or lowered income.

More information on California services for low-income families is detailed in the sections below:

  • Medicaid
  • Head Start
  • CalFresh
  • California CalWORKs
Medicaid in California

California Medicaid health care program is referred to as Medi-Cal, and pays for several services for adults and children with limited resources and income. Medi-Cal is funded by state and Federal taxes and benefits qualifying California residents. Household income that is considered low-income or very low-income allows families to take advantage of health care and insurance assistance. Pregnancy, disability, or having a disabled family member in the household, may also qualify individuals for Medi-Cal assistance. California has established maximum annual household income limits to establish eligibility. To apply for Medi-Cal, individuals can use the online platform or call a local county social services office. Applicants must be permanent residents, legal aliens or a U.S national. Individuals can report any changes in income online to keep benefits current. Medi-Cal offers essential health services for qualified individuals. Some of these services include: emergency service, hospitalization, doctor visits, pregnancy services, nursing home care, prescriptions and pediatric care. Additionally, substance use disorder services and mental health benefits are available under Medi-Cal.

Head Start in California

Low-income families with newborns and children up to age five can participate in the Head Start program. This program helps promote growth in social, emotional, literacy and language development for children. Parents are a child’s first teachers, and Head Start provides a learning environment to encourage parents to expand his or her child’s cognitive, social and emotional development. Early Head Start is the first step for pregnant women, infants and toddlers in early development. California residents who have annual household incomes lower than the predetermined low-income standards may be eligible to participate in this program. Earnings are not taken into account for homeless children, children in foster care and children whose families are currently receiving public assistance through other California programs. Children from families who are not considered low-income can participate in this program but must first contact a local office for more information on how to participate in Head Start programs. Applicants can find Head Start programs online, using the Head Start Locater or by contacting a local office.

CalFresh in California

The food stamp assistance program in California goes by the name CalFresh, which offers monthly assistance to low-income households to purchase food. The goal is to help families maintain nutrition levels. It’s an exceptionally helpful program to those receiving unemployment insurance coverage. CalFresh assistance cannot be used to purchase non-food items such as paper products, alcoholic drinks or cigarettes. Participants in the program must be citizens and be registered for employment services. He or she must also meet annual household income limits. Applications can be completed online or picked up at a local county office. Often times applicants will need to participate in an eligibility interview conducted by the county office. Benefit amount and eligibility will be determined upon information presented during the interview and application process.

California CalWORKs

CalWORKs is a program which provides cash assistance for eligible needy families to help pay for necessities like food, utilities and clothing. Local county welfare departments operate the program and applicants can contact a local office for assistance with the program. In order to qualify, individuals must meet several different requirements set forth by the program developers. Low and very low-income families qualify. Individuals who are under-employed, about to be unemployed or are already unemployed also qualify for CalWORKs. Legal aliens, permanent residents, and U. S national citizens can also apply for this program. Expectant mothers and caretakers of children under the age of 19 can also qualify for cash assistance. The benefit amount is calculated using household information including family income, family size and any special needs the family may have. An application must be submitted online or at a county office location. A county official will schedule an interview with the applicant to collect information and determine eligibility.