CDSS Moves Forward with Plans to Implement More Robust Equity Policies as Highlighted in ATC’s Racial Impact Statement

Posted by Jenn Tracy, July 9, 2018, CalFresh Participation

Over the last two years, ATC has been engaging in equity and racial bias trainings and inquiries brought about by the resounding requests from the CalFresh community to address statewide racial and ethnic inequities. This engagement spurred the Alliance to prepare a Racial Impact Statement, designed to illuminate possible indicators of programmatic disparities based on race, ethnicity, and language, and to initiate engagement on developing new data and systems to further reveal, understand, and develop steps to address racial bias within the CalFresh eligibility systems.

In March, members of the Alliance to Transform CalFresh met with a group of division leaders at CDSS to discuss racial and ethnic equity within the CalFresh program. Division Leaders from the Civil Rights Unit, the CalFresh Branch, and the Immigration and Refugee Unit were enthusiastic to discuss the document with us and had several exciting updates. The Racial Impact Statement had several recommendations for improving the status quo:

  1. Broaden the scope of work of the Civil Rights Unit to include its intended mandate: “We are dedicated to providing our constituents with education, services, and proactive leadership necessary to ensure that all programs administered or supervised by the California Department of Social Services are done so equitably and effectively.” This scope must include race, ethnicity, and language.
  2. Develop and implement an Implicit Bias training program for all CDSS leadership and staff, and ensure Implicit Bias training is provided for all county administration staff and frontline eligibility workers.
  3. Develop a protocol and system for evaluating future CalFresh policies and business process recommendations based on anticipated impacts and outcomes by race and ethnicity.
  4. Collect, publish and analyze real-time CalFresh program data to accurately reflect racial and ethnic outcomes.
  5. Develop a meaningful feedback loop that includes the experiences of people of color in the creation and implementation of policies and business processes.


We were pleased to learn that the Civil Right Unit has hired Maureen Keffer for the Unit’s new position of Policy Manager and that her job description includes work related to the majority of our recommendations. The leadership at CDSS is exploring implementation of the GARE Equity Toolkit for CalFresh policies. The GARE toolkit is both a “product and a process” designed to “integrate explicit consideration of racial equity in decisions, including policies, practices, programs, and budgets.”

There is a lot of difficult work ahead, however the foundation that is being laid with our partners at CDSS is a step in the right direction. We look forward to continuing to build on these exciting and forward-thinking efforts.

Read the ATC Racial Impact Statement here.