California Department of Social Services

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Department of Social Services
Agency overview
Annual budgetUS$ 19.7 billion (2011)
Agency executive
Parent agencyCalifornia Health and Human Services Agency

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is a California state agency for many of the programs defined as part of the social safety net in the United States, and is within the auspices of the California Health and Human Services Agency. Federal and State funds for adoptions, the largest SNAP program in the country (known as CalFresh, formerly led by current Department of Aging Director Kim McCoy Wade), CalWORKs program, foster care, aid for people with disabilities, family crisis counseling, subsistence payments to poor families with children, child welfare services and many other efforts are distributed through this department.

On June 27, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Kimberley Johnson as CDSS Director. Johnson previously served in other capacities at CDSS, including as deputy director of the Family Engagement and Empowerment Division, branch chief of CalWorks and Child Care, and branch chief of Child Care and Refugee Programs.[1]

Its mission is "to serve, aid and protect the needy and vulnerable children and adults in ways that strengthen and preserve families, encourage personal responsibility, and foster independence."


CDSS has more than 4,000 employees in 54 offices throughout the state and is responsible for:

  • CalWORKs, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare-to-work program
  • CalFresh is the California implementation of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp program, which provides financial assistance for purchasing food for those in Poverty in California
  • Ensuring efficient, accurate and equitable delivery of payments and benefits
  • Providing services that foster self-sufficiency and dignity
  • Providing social services to the elderly, blind, disabled and other children and adults
  • Licensing and regulating foster homes, group homes, residential care facilities, day care facilities, child care facilities and preschools
  • Evaluating eligibility of applicants for disability-related benefits for certain federal and state programs, including Supplemental Security Income, Social Security Disability and Medi-Cal


The Department of Social Services is divided into 10 divisions, with programs, branches, and agencies under those divisions:

  • Administration
  • Legal
  • Children and Family Services
  • Community Care Licensing
  • Disability Determination Service
  • Adult Programs
  • Family Engagement and Empowerment
  • State Hearings
  • Information Systems


  1. ^ "Governor Newsom Announces Appointments 6.27.19". California Governor. 2019-06-27. Retrieved 2019-07-16.

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