CalSAWs has several features designed to improve service for applicants and recipients, however these features are opt in/out for counties; counties can decide without any need for explanation to use these free tools that can only benefit applicants and recipients.
The following features are free and available to every county in the state. See Opt in/out Features Available to Counties (below):
- GA/GR program to apply for benefits
- Interview Nudge (after submission of an application)
- VITA appointment request
- Click to Chat
- Call Me Back (web form, where users enter their contact details for county staff to call them back)
- EBT/BIC Card replacement
- Two-way messaging
- Domestic Violence Survivor Access (allow people with a confidentiality flag to automatically access case info, or require them to call the county to get access)
|Opt in/out Features Available to counties “X” indicates the feature is turned on for the county|
|#||County||1 Interview Nudge||2 GA/GR||3 EBT/BIC Replacement||4 VITA||5 Two Way Messaging||6 Click to Chat||7 Call Me||CalWIN Wave|
|38||San Francisco||Wave 6|
|40||San Luis Obispo||Wave 6|
These features, which the State has paid for and add no new costs to counties, are available to every county at roll out to expand the services for applicants and recipients. We wonder why any county would opt out of any of these features?
For example, as shown in the above chart from BenefitsCal – Tulare, Yolo and Orange Counties have inexplicably chosen to deny residents CalSAWs features which would help replace EBT cards, lessen the county work load and improve the services for recipients, meanwhile, Colusa, El Dorado, Imperial, Kings, Merced, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba counties have decided, on their own and with no requirement to explain their decision to any other body, that residents of their counites don’t get to apply for GA/GR easily on-line. The features that would assist county residents in quick and effective communication with counites ie; Interview Nudge, Two Way Messaging, Click to Chat and Call Me are being spottily adopted, with only Two Way Messaging being widely used, though 30 counites have decided even this basic, free communication tool is not something their residents, who often wait on hold for hours and are lucky if the call doesn’t drop, could use.
Since these no cost features would increase connectivity and efficiency in the application and case management system, the reasonable conclusion is counties don’t want more connectivity and efficiency in the application and case management system.
But, we do not know why counties aren’t opting in on these features because the public and even advocates are more or less shut out of this process. The decision to opt in/out is left to each individual county, CDSS has no say and can’t answer advocates questions or demands. Unless advocates have an open line of communication with an individual county there is nobody who can answer the question ‘why didn’t my county opt in?’
These are examples of counties being free to choose to help applicants and recipients, at no cost to counites, and these counties denying that help to applicants and recipients, with no need to explain their decision to anyone. We believe CDSS should take control of this program they paid for and manage the county welfare departments they are tasked with overseeing. CDSS should mandate counties opt in to all features in CalSAWs. This seems like an issue that could be resolved with something as simple as an ACL or ACWDL stating counties must opt in to all features offered in CalSAWs.