California Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program

You may be eligible for the California Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program if you are an authorized relative caregiver for a foster child or if you wish to become one. To receive funds under the ARC program in CA, you must be an approved caregiver of an eligible child in your home. If this is the case, you may meet the ARC Funding Option Program eligibility requirements to receive funds equal to the basic foster care rate of assistance. Continue reading this page if you want to know if you qualify for the ARC Funding Option Program in California and how to apply for the ARC Funding Options Program.

About the ARC Funding Option Program in California

The California Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program is a relatively new welfare assistance, as the state implemented it just in 2015. The ARC Funding Option Program is under the management of the California Department of Social Services, which runs the cash assistant programs in California. Participation in the California Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program is optional for counties throughout the state, so you will need to contact your local county human services department to find out if your county is currently participating.

Financing for the California ARC Funding Option Program typically comes from three sources. Residents who receive funds under the ARC program are primarily paid from federal, state and county funds. These combined sources are used to make monthly ARC payments at an amount equivalent to basic foster care payments. This amount can change annually with the cost-of-living rate. Most recipients receive funds on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card automatically each month once approved. However, many counties are considering mailing paper checks or direct deposit to bank accounts in the near future.

To learn more about how to receive cash assistance in California, download our comprehensive guide.

Qualifying for the ARC Funding Option Program in California

California ARC Funding Option Program eligibility requirements apply for relative caregivers as well as the children under their care. The main eligibility requirement for caregivers include being related to the child by adoption, blood or marriage, such as a stepparent or spouse of a great aunt. To be an approved relative caregiver, the adult must have a kinship with the child within a fifth degree. This includes step siblings, grandparents and great grandparents as well as spouses of such relatives, even in the case where the marriage ended due to divorce or death. Non-relative extended family members are not permitted to apply for the ARC program. The relative caretaker must also be a resident of the state to enroll in the California ARC Funding Option Program.

To qualify for the ARC Funding Option Program, the child must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Live in California and be a ward or dependent of the California Juvenile Court or be under agreement of voluntary placement
  • Living with a relative caregiver who has been approved by the California Department of Social Services
  • Not be eligible to receive state funded foster care benefits

You must fill out an ARC funding application for the child even if the child is already receiving CalWORKs benefits. CalWORKs eligibility is not mandatory for ARC funding but a CalWORKs eligibility assessment must be completed for each child to determine if part of the funding for the ARC payment can come from CalWORKs funds. Children will be able to receive funds under the ARC program even if they do not qualify for the CalWORKs sections of the ARC Program. The child will qualify for the ARC Funding Option Program if he or she is ineligible for CalWORKs but the funding will come entirely from moneys appropriated from the ARC program in this case.

However, if you are receiving funds under the ARC program for a child, you will not be able to receive additional CalWORKs benefits for the same child. Payments received when you qualify for the ARC Funding Option Program as an approved relative caregiver are not considered income when determining you eligibility for other public benefit programs, except for CalFresh in certain circumstances. As a recipient of ARC funding, you may also be eligible for CalFresh benefits. When a child meets the ARC Funding Option Program eligibility requirements, he or she is also eligible for Medi-Cal benefits.

To learn more about how to receive funds under the ARC program, download our comprehensive guide.

How to Apply for the ARC Funding Options Program in California

You can apply for the ARC Funding Options Program in California by contacting your local county human services department. To apply for the ARC Funding Option Program, you must be an authorized relative caregiver taking care of an eligible child. The application for the program will require you to furnish information about the child or children. This will include personal details, benefits and income currently received, owned property and resources and current health insurance, if applicable.

Under the ARC Funding Option Program there are also some CalWORKs exemptions for relative caregivers. When you apply for the ARC Funding Options Program for an eligible child, it will be sufficient that you have been fingerprinted and undergone a criminal background check as part of your initial approval process for ARC. When you qualify for the ARC Funding Option Program as a relative caregiver, you must also provide a recent photograph of yourself. If you, the relative caregiver, or other children in the household receive CalWORKs benefits but you are not participating in the ARC program, you must meet the SFIS, face-to-face interview and photograph stipulations.


What Kind of Assistance Does the Department of Social Services Offer?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides various types of assistance benefits to residents of the state. Through the CDSS, individuals and families can obtain temporary cash assistance, food assistance and more. Furthermore, applicants who are eligible for the benefits of one CDSS program will often qualify for the assistance benefits of another. Find out everything you need to know about the services and benefits provided by the Department of Social Services by downloading our helpful CDSS guide.


Who Can Benefit From California’s Department of Social Services?

To receive benefits from the CDSS, you and your family will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The criteria used to determine an applicant’s eligibility typically include income, age, resources and citizenship, among other factors. Find out if you qualify for California DSS assistance benefits here.