Serves as a guide for banks, credit unions, and the state of California to lower the cost of financial transactions for families receiving CalWORKs, the state’s version of TANF, many of whom are currently charged ATM and other banking fees to obtain and manage their cash assistance.
This report provides background on the current process for delivering CalWORKs cash aid and identifies three goals for improving the process.
  1. “ Increase the use of free cash withdrawals options for EBT cards,
  2. Increase access to fee-avoidant financial services, such as bank and credit union services that are free with direct deposit of CalWORKs cash aid, and,
  3. Provide practical and ongoing support to CalWORKs recipients to help them save on fees” (p.1).
Recommendations are provided for the public and private sectors to achieve these goals. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The resource makes recommendations to three specific constituent groups: banks and credit unions, states and counties, and financial education providers. All recommendations focus on reducing the cost of the financial service transactions involved with accessing and managing the CalWORKs benefit. “CRC proposes that banks and credit unions help protect CalWORKs investments in families by: • Offering checking accounts that satisfy SafeMoney standards, • Working with state and county agencies to create easy setup for direct deposit of CalWORKs benefits, and, • Advertising with attractive, easy to use materials that are distributed via state and county agencies and nonprofits that serve families receiving CalWORKs (p.9). CRC proposes state and county CalWORKs administrators protect CalWORKs investments in families by: • Informing CalWORKs recipients of the fees they pay by sending a regular, monthly statement of transactions, • Emphasizing to recipients that they can choose to receive aid via EBT or direct deposit, describing the pros and cons so each recipient can decide for herself what she needs and wants, • Educating county staff about fees so they and their clients can avoid them, • Providing recipients information about fee-avoidant accounts, • Working with banks to simplify and speed up setting up direct deposits, and • Negotiating the next EBT contract so that it is more affordable to recipients (p.13). CRC proposes that financial education providers help protect CalWORKs investments in families by: • Reaching out to CalWORKs recipients with support from government agencies and financial institutions, • Adapting financial education materials to include EBT fees and how to avoid them, and • Integrating these services where they are most relevant to clients” (p.14). In addition, the resource details general next steps for advocates interested in the cause. (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)