CalFresh is our largest, most impactful anti-hunger program. It remains a crucial resource for many families that helps to feed their children and reduce poverty. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 49 percent of California children receive CalFresh at some point in their first five years of life.
Yet despite its importance in safeguarding families’ health and well-being, more than 1 in 3 families with children struggle to enroll their newborn child in the program by three months’ age. This results in potentially hundreds of dollars in vital food assistance missed out on annually by families who qualify for increased benefits, all at a time when families face increased stress and access to adequate nutrition is particularly critical.
A reason for this gap could be due to issues surrounding required verification for CalFresh enrollment. According to federal guidelines, newborn infants need minimal information to be eligible for CalFresh benefits. For families who want to add their newborn infant onto their existing CalFresh case, only the baby’s name and date of birth should be required. However, sometimes families are asked by County CalFresh Eligibility Workers to verify unnecessary information, such as an SSN and proof that the baby has been born. Families should only need to provide the federally mandated documentation to enroll newborns into CalFresh.
This past year, Nourish California worked with the CA Department of Social Services (CDSS), county CalFresh administrators, and other stakeholders, to ensure that this information is communicated clearly to families and eligibility workers. The newly issued guidance in ACIN I-54-22 provides county administrators with clarification regarding Social Security Numbers (SSN) for families with newly born children.
We would like to thank CDSS for their work in publishing this ACIN, as well as the CalFresh administrators, application assisters, and stakeholders who shared their experiences with us and informed our advocacy with the state.
Want to learn more and receive timely calls to action to improve CalFresh? Join our campaign to eliminate barriers and boost benefits in CalFresh. Sign up here.