Headlines and Hot Topics

Disaster Help Center

See below for information on public assistance and services available to individuals and families impacted by California disasters:

SUN Bucks Provide Food for Children During Summer Break

Starting this summer, you can buy more food for your child with California SUN Bucks, also called Summer-EBT. SUN Bucks works just like CalFresh, but for the summer. Children who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals through a school meal application or an Alternative Income Form, or get CalFresh, CalWORKs, or Medi-Cal, are automatically enrolled. You don't need to do anything to sign up. SUN Bucks provides $40 per month for food for June, July, and August 2024 ($120 total). As of July 2024, more than 3.2 million SUN Bucks cards have been issued, with more than five million total cards expected to be distributed to families across California over the coming months. Over $162 million in food purchases have been made by families across the state. Access the news release (English, Spanish) and videos (English, Spanish). Learn more about SUN Bucks.

Taking Steps to Better Serve Foster Youth

California has made transformative changes to the way the State cares for children and youth in the foster care system. The Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) was founded upon the collective belief among stakeholders involved in California’s child welfare system that all children served by the foster care system need, deserve, and have an ability to be part of a loving family, and not to grow up in a congregate setting. When CCR implementation began in 2017, an interim foster care rate structure was created. However, statute requires a new payment structure by January 1, 2025. To this end, the Department recently unveiled a rate reform proposal, which was informed by feedback from current and former foster youth, county placing agencies, Tribes, and other interested parties.

California is proposing to restructure rates so that they are based on the needs of each child, not placement type. By restructuring the system this way, California can help address historical racial inequities and help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and trauma.

Read a detailed summary of the proposal

Report Highlights Success of Project Roomkey

The California Department of Social Services has announced the release of a report that highlights the success of Project Roomkey, the State’s groundbreaking program that provided non-congregate shelter options, such as hotels and motels, for people experiencing homelessness, to protect human life, and to minimize strain on the health care system during the pandemic. The Department also issued an issue brief (English, Spanish) and news release (English, Spanish) on Project Roomkey.

Beware of EBT Theft and Scams

California has been experiencing an increase in occurrence of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) theft. In an effort to educate EBT cardholders and mitigate this activity, the California Department of Social Services is providing security tips for those who use EBT cards to receive food and cash assistance in the following linked video. If you think your benefits may have been stolen, you should immediately call the customer service telephone number on the back of your EBT card, (877) 328-9677, or contact your county social services agency.

A new mobile app and web-based portal called ebtEDGE provides new features for EBT cardholders in California, allowing them to better protect their CalFresh and CalWORKs benefits. The free app is available for download in the Apple App store and Google Play store. Web-based access is available here.

VIDEO: Watch Out for EBT Scams!

VIDEO: Tenga Cuidado Con Las Estafas De Las Tarjetas EBT!!!

Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI)

You may qualify for cash assistance if you are an immigrant living in California and are:

  • 65 years or older, or
  • blind, or
  • disabled

CAPI is a program that is based on meeting certain immigration, income, and resource requirements. Please visit the CAPI program website for more information and how to apply!

Alert: Important Change to Public Charge Rule

Immigrants and their loved ones across California can seek and accept medical care, food assistance, and public housing without fear or confusion about public charge consequences thanks to a public charge rule published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which went into effect December 23, 2022.  Under the final rule, participation in CalFresh, public housing, or Medi-Cal (except for long-term care), will not be considered as part of the public charge determination.  Also, a reminder that medical testing, treatment, and preventive services for COVID-19, including vaccines, are not considered for public charge purposes.  For additional information, please see the following:

  • Joint statement  from California health and human services leaders in response to the federal public charge changes.  
  • Public Charge Guide for individuals and families with questions about the these changes in federal policy:  (English) ( Español)

Individuals in California seeking assistance are encouraged to consult one of many state-funded organizations that provide legal services to immigrants.  Here is a  list of immigration services providers  funded by CDSS.

Free Access to State Parks and Beaches for CalWORKs Recipients

Recipients of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) benefits are eligible for free access to state parks and beaches through the Golden Bear Pass program. Sign up for a 2024 pass. Tribal TANF recipients may apply for a pass through their local Tribal TANF administrator.

IHSS Program Celebrates Over 50 Years of Supporting Californians

Since its inception more than 50 years ago, the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program has been enabling California residents to live independently and safely in their own homes, avoiding institutionalization. To learn more about the IHSS program, please visit the IHSS webpage or contact your local county IHSS office. Access a video.

Adult Protective Services Hotline

If you or someone you know needs protection from abuse and neglect, call the statewide Adult Protective Services hotline: (833) 401-0832. Individuals can enter their 5-digit ZIP code to be connected to their county Adult Protective Services staff, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Foster Care Ombudsperson Hotline

If you are concerned about the care, placement, services, or rights of children in foster care, call the Foster Care Ombudsperson hotline: (877) 846-1602. Service is available Monday through Friday, excluding holidays, from 8 am to 5 pm.

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect Through Distance Learning

If you are an educator involved in distance learning, this guide from CDSS and CDE offers tips to help you fulfill your role as a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse and neglect.

About CDSS

California Department of Social Services
744 P Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

For public assistance case issues, inquiries, or complaints, e-mail our Public Inquiry and Response Unit at piar@dss.ca.gov.

To sign up for direct outreach from CDSS visit our Statewide Outreach page to lean more.

For assistance with Golden State Grants, please call the Golden State Grant Program Helpline at 1-866-312-3100.

For Out of State Inquiries please use the following list to reach the appropriate county.

Work With a Purpose

The California Department of Social Services supports programs which serve more than eight million people across our state. This work, accomplished everyday, provides stability, opportunity and promotes wellness in communities throughout California. Come join our team to experience what it is like to enjoy 'Work With a Purpose'.