A member family contacted HSLDA recently after a county worker told them there was no way to extend their 18-year-old son’s CalWORKS benefits.

At first glance it seemed like blatant discrimination against a homeschooled teen. But once we investigated we learned it was just a misunderstanding regarding a quirky California law dealing with benefits for students who turn 18 while still in high school.

CalWORKS is a state assistance program run by county agencies that provides cash aid and services to California families with children. After some time receiving this assistance, our member family received notice that CalWORKS would cease sending benefits for their 18-year-old son.

Naturally, the family became concerned and asked their caseworker for an explanation, since their son still had one more year of high school.

The caseworker said that based on the fact the student was now 18 and did not plan to graduate within the next year, there was nothing she could do about it, “especially because he is homeschooled.”

Why she added the caveat remains a mystery, as the rules for receiving benefits apply to all students.

Nevertheless, it was alarming enough that it prompted the family to enlist our help.

A New Plan

I advised the family that CalWORKS benefits for 18-year-olds can be extended, but only if the student is expected to complete their education before they turn 19.

So I recommended that the family continue their son’s education through the summer and complete his education early in April 2021, thus ensuring he would graduate before his 19th birthday. The family had already been planning to school through the summer, so this timeline was no hardship for them. 

I then notified the caseworker about the new plan, and within hours she responded that the amended date of graduation was sufficient to continue their son’s benefits.

Thanks to the flexibility of homeschooling, our members were able to both continue their son’s benefits and continue providing him with an excellent home education. If you would like to know more about how to make homeschooling work for your family, join HSLDA today!