Myths and Facts

Human Services

Human Services Programs are only for the poor.

Human Services Agency provides a vast array of programs designed to help the community. Some programs, such as CalFresh, Medi-Cal, and cash assistance are intended to help those that cannot currently provide for certain needs. Child Welfare Services provides services for people of all economic levels by focusing on the needs and safety of children. Adult and Aging Services programs range from medical assistance to protection to support.


Most minimum wage workers are teens.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 75 percent of all workers earning minimum wage or less were 20 or older.

Public assistance is only for the unemployed.

Many of the people receiving public assistance are currently working. Low wages, seasonal work, and a low number of working hours can lead to a need for assistance with food, cash, or health coverage.

CalWORKs pays people to stay at home and have children.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), requires recipients to participate in a work program in order to continue getting assistance. Recipients are limited to 60 months of aid during their lifetime. Less than 16% of current Merced County cases have even one parent timed out.

People that get assistance do not want to work.

Assistance is not limited to only those without work. Assistance is used to enable families to provide for the adequate care of all family members. Many assistance recipients are currently working, but either do not work enough hours or are paid a rate that leaves them below the Federal Poverty Level. Assistance is also available for seasonal workers or those that are looking for work. Cash assistance through TANF even requires that recipients participate in a work program that provides training, counseling, education, and work experience.

Families on welfare are generational.

It is very difficult for families to make a career out of assistance due to work requirements and time limits. Assistance benefits are used as a temporary solutions to financial hardships.

Child Welfare Services (CWS)

Victims of abuse show physical signs

There are many different forms of child abuse: sexual abuse, physical abuse, exploitation of a minor, abandonment, and emotional abuse. Neglect of a child's medical, physical (lack of food), or mental health needs is also a form of child abuse. Many types of abuse may not leave any physical signs that abuse is taking place. Even physical abuse can be done without leaving easily visible signs.

Behavior changes can be a sign that the child is being abused. Children who act out in anger and/or violence may be showing signs of child abuse. Children and youth, who suddenly become withdrawn, look dirty, smell badly or have marks or bruises, may be a sign that something is wrong at home. Paying attention to a child's actions can be very important to the fight against violence. Not all children who show these signs are being abused, but they may need help and Child Welfare Services can often offer this help.

CWS only wants to break up families

Child Welfare Services is concerned with the well-being of children. The goal of CWS is to make families whole. CWS makes every effort toward providing for the protection of children while keeping the family together. Children are only removed from their homes if there is no other way they can safely remain in the home. Many times services can be put into place that allows the child to remain safely in a parent's care. As a last alternative, if a child must leave the home, CWS will look for relatives or close friends of the family that can assist in helping the child be safe or provide alternative placement while the family tends to their needs. After removal, a social worker will work with the parents and the child to create a plan to work towards having the child returned home safely.

If I make a child abuse referral, I will have to testify in court

Child abuse referrals can be made anonymously which protects the reporter's identification. However, to provide as much help as possible in the investigation, the reporter’s contact information is important. Merced County Human Services Agency protects the confidentiality of the reporter to the extent possible. While very rare, under certain conditions the court may request that the reporter’s information be released and the reporter may be asked to testify at a hearing.

Adult and Aging Services

Adults can take care of themselves.

Many adults, especially the disabled and elderly, depend on the assistance of others. Some adults lack the ability to provide for themselves financially, provide for their own physical needs, or even make their own decisions. These adults are at risk for abuse and exploitation. Adult and Aging Services assists in providing for the health and well-being of adults, while protecting them from potential malefactors.

I just turned 65 and now I can get free help from adult services.

Adult and Aging Services are designed to help those that are most in need of assistance. The blind, disabled, and frail are considered to be the most at risk and have more services available. Age alone does not necessarily meet the requirements Adult and Aging Services programs. Contact Adult and Aging Services to get information on what services may be available to help you.