public assistance

Refugees are eligible for cash and food assistance through the Department of Human Assistance (DHA) which they must apply for within 7 business days of arrival. World Relief oversees the enrollment of families in this program, however for further questions, they should refer to their DHA Caseworker. Please note, if a refugee family is part of World Relief's Match Grant program, they ARE NOT ELIGIBLE for Cash Aid (CalWorks/TANF/RCA) through the county. 


The DHA, also known as welfare, provides federal, state and county government programs to low-income residents such as: 

  • Cash Aid  

    • CalWORKs – also known as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) 

    • Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) 

    • General Assistance (GA) 

  • Food Stamps 

    • CalFresh – subsidiary of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Health Coverage 

    • Medi-Cal 


Cash Aid breakdown

  • CalWORKs is a cash aid benefits program for families. The amount of cash benefits a family will receive per month is dependent on the size of the family and apartment rent amount. If a family has a child over 18 years old, that child must apply for RCA by themselves but is able to stay on the family's CalFresh and Medi-Cal benefits. 


  • Refugee Cash Assistance (RCA) is a cash aid benefits program for refugees. Single refugee individuals or married refugee couples with no children are eligible to receive cash aid for an 8 month period. If a refugee individual or couple gains employment and earns more than is allowed, they are no longer eligible for RCA.  


  • General Assistance (GA) is a temporary cash aid benefits program for individuals or families who do not qualify under other programs. It is a loan program that lasts for 3 months or 90 non-consecutive days for an individual 18 or older. The recipient must repay the county. A refugee individual will only apply for GA in special circumstances after their RCA period is completed. 


CalFresh breakdown

CalFresh is a program that provides monthly food assistance to low-income households. It is under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and also known as food stamps. A family does not need to be enrolled in any cash aid programs to receive CalFresh benefits. The monthly amount a family receives is based on the family size, income and expenses. 


There is no longer any use for food vouchers – all transactions happen through a family's Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. These benefits can not be used for alcohol, tobacco, pet food, paper products etc.  


Welfare to Work 

The Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance's program called Welfare to Work (WTW) assists those with CalWORKs cash benefits find employment and promotes self-sufficiency. Their local DHA hosts an orientation and creates a plan to find jobs, education or training programs, or both. Some CalWORKs recipients are exempt, such as mothers with young children.  


The refugee family will receive a letter stating a date and time for their orientation in the mail. In their orientation, the recipient will receive a blue folder filled with WTW information and requirements, such as required hours of participation and types of activities that count. Failure to meet requirements may result in benefits being lowered. 


MyBenefits CalWIN 

MyBenefits CalWIN is a website and mobile application in which the family's DHA information can be accessed. Through this portal, the family can access: 

  • Case status 

  • Benefit amounts 

  • EBT balance and transaction history 

  • Submit documents 

  • Request a replacement Medi-Cal Issuance card 

  • Eligibility of other services 

If you or a family have any questions about public assistance programs, please visit CalWIN's FAQ page. We also encouarage refugees to speak with their DHA Caseworker for any specific cash benefits questions. 


Reporting Income Changes 

If a family's combined income changes, they must report it to the DHA within 10 days. Each family has an Income Reporting Threshold (IRT), which is 130 percent of the Federal Poverty level for household size, for both CalWORKs and CalFresh. The DHA will tell the family their IRT. When the income is over the IRT, the county will lower or stop benefits. 


Please visit the CalWORKs Income Reporting Threshold tables detailed on the last page to see the current Fiscal Year ('16-'17) IRT limits based on household size. You can refer to CalFresh and CalWORKs Income Reporting Thresholds tables for Fiscal Year ('15-'16) for a better understanding of both programs' assistance limits. 


Please note: Non-exempt means a household with parents available for employment. Exempt means the household with parents, or relatives, who receive disability benefits.