California Resources

To find out about key benefits and services in California and how to apply, select from the topics below.

Refugee & Newcomer Health

The Office of Refugee Health works with impacted local health jurisdictions, health providers, and voluntary resettlement agencies to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate comprehensive health assessments and other health services to newly arrived refugees, asylees, victims of severe forms of human trafficking (federally certified), and other eligible entrants to assist them by becoming and staying healthy.

How to set up an appointment

Pregnant women are eligible for the Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program, which provides a range of culturally competent services to eligible pregnant women, from conception through 60 days postpartum. The Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program page can be used to find a Perinatal Service Coordinator in your county.

The Office of Refugee Health has developed screening guidelines for clinicians who do not typically work with the special populations the Office of Refugee Health serves. These guidelines include information on recommended laboratory tests and immunizations. Please use for new arrivals who reside in a location that does not have a refugee health screening clinic. Individuals can print and bring to the first patient appointment to help ensure proper screening and care standards.

For refugees who live in an area that is not served by a Refugee Health Assessment Program, use the official government locator tool to find a local FQHC.

Use the California Immunization Registry (CAIR) Digital Vaccine Record Portal to obtain electronic records of all vaccines administered in California. For refugees, overseas records may also be visible in the registry by late 2023.

Accessing Health Care

Medi-Cal is California’s Medicaid program. This is a public health insurance program which provides needed health care services for low-income individuals including families with children, seniors, persons with disabilities, foster care, pregnant women, and low-income people with specific diseases such as tuberculosis, breast cancer, or HIV/AIDS.

The IHSS Program is for those who are 65 year of age and over, or disabled, or blind. Disabled children are also potentially eligible for IHSS. IHSS is considered an alternative to out-of-home care, such as nursing homes or board and care facilities. You must have Medi-Cal to qualify for IHSS. Please visit your local Human or Social Services Agency to apply. To read more, click the link above.

The types of services which can be authorized through IHSS are housecleaning, meal preparation, laundry, grocery shopping, personal care services (such as bowel and bladder care, bathing, grooming and paramedical services), accompaniment to medical appointments, and protective supervision for the mentally impaired.

Persons with Disabilities

The CA Deaf Access Program (DAP) was created in 1980 to ensure that California’s public programs are adapted to meet the communication needs of deaf and hard of hearing children, adults, and families so they may receive the public benefits and services to which they are entitled and achieve economic independence to fully participate in mainstream society.

Map of service provider contacts

Under the Office of Special Services, the Office of Services to the Blind (OSB) provides information and referral on services, programs, entitlements, and products of benefit to individuals who are blind or low vision and their families or service providers. OSB staff assists such individuals in understanding the availability of services, their eligibility for services, and the purpose and scope of the various service programs.


Medicare is health insurance for people 65 or older. You’re first eligible to sign up for Medicare three months before you turn 65.

Phone: 1-800-633-4227

The Social Security program in the United States provides protection against the loss of earnings due to retirement, death, or disability.

Children's Health

The Early Start program is California’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Early Start services are available statewide and are provided in a coordinated, family-centered system.

California Children’s Services (CCS) is a state program for children with certain diseases or health problems. Through this program, children up to 21 years old can get the health care and services they need. CCS will connect you with doctors and trained health care people who know how to care for your child with special health care needs.

  • Vaccines for Children

Before starting school, children need certain vaccines. Visit the California Department of Public Health Immunization Branch webpage for more information on what vaccines are required. The Vaccine for Children (VFC) Program helps families by providing vaccines at no costs.

Vaccine for Children (VFC) Program

Mental Health

For Afghan newcomers who are experiencing sadness, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, or any other distress; helpline workers will respond to callers in English, Dari, or Pashto 24/7

Phone: (800) 615-6514

  • Afghan Medical Professionals Association of America HEAL Project

Limited virtual medical and mental health services for new Afghan arrivals including those without health insurance


All county mental health departments have 24/7 hotlines for local residents seeking assistance in a crisis and to access mental health programs.

  • Mental Wellbeing and Stress Reduction Support

To help with feelings of stress, the organizations listed here provide services like peer-led support groups, workshops, and counseling for Afghan and other refugee arrivals.

Service provider info (English)

Service provider info (Dari)

Service provider info (Pashtu)

Dental Care

The Medi-Cal Program currently offers dental services as one of the program’s many benefits. Under the guidance of the California Department of Health Care Services, the Medi-Cal Dental Program aims to provide Medi-Cal members with access to high-quality dental care.

Find a dentist

Vision Health

The Vision Services Branch (VSB) administers the Medi-Cal free-for-service vision care program, serving beneficiaries in CA. The program offers covered optometric services benefits including comprehensive eye examinations, low vision evaluations, and artificial eye services to eligible beneficiaries of all ages. In addition, VSB oversees the optical laboratories that furnish and fabricate prescription lenses at no cost to Medi-Cal beneficiaries who qualify.

Cash & Food Assistance

  • Refugee Cash Assistance

Cash assistance available to residents who enter the U.S. under humanitarian protection with low incomes; program available to single adult individuals (age 18 and above) or couples without minor children

Please use the county locator for in-person application.

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – CalWORKS

Cash assistance designed to help low-income families achieve self-sufficiency

Please use the county locator for in-person application.

  • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – CalFresh

Federal nutrition program

Please use the county locator for in-person application.

A program offering supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition to low-income women who are pregnant or families that have children aged birth to five.

A federal program supporting participants to attain self-sufficiency within 240 days (eight months) of arrival in the United States through financial, case management, and employment support. Match grant is an alternative employment service program to Refugee Cash Assistance and CalWORKs/TANF. Individuals may only be enrolled in either Refugee Cash Assistance/TANF OR Match Grant; no concurrent enrollment.

A program that provides monthly payments to adults and children with a disability or blindness who have income and resources below specific financial limits. SSI payments are also made to people aged 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial qualifications.

A food bank is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has a Board of Directors representing the community it serves. Food Banks throughout California provide United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities for distribution to eligible individuals and households within their respective service areas. In order to be eligible for USDA commodities, an individual or household must reside in the geographical area being served and meet established income guidelines. To connect with the food programs that can provide assistance, please see the link below.

Assistance with Housing Costs

Helps residents maintain housing stability

Call 211 (24/7) to speak to a Community Resource Specialist

Housing Counseling

HUD sponsors housing counseling agencies throughout the country to provide free or low-cost advice.

Phone: 800-569-4287


The California Department of Public Health is pleased to announce a virtual orientation for Sponsors of Refugees under the Welcome Corps Program and Supporters of Humanitarian Parolees from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Parolees, refugees, and service providers are also welcome to attend.

Orientation Time: 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
First Wednesday of every month

Questions? Send an email.

This virtual orientation is hosted by the following organizations: the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Refugee Health and the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Newcomers Health Program Orientation on Benefits and Services Available to People Recently Granted Asylum

Orientation Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Second Tuesday of every month


The Matching Grant program helps refugees and other ORR-eligible populations overcome barriers and quickly find jobs. The intent is for refugees to become economically self-sufficient through employment within 240 days and without accessing cash assistance programs.


Information and resources about obtaining a driver’s license or state identification card

For males age 18-25; Selective Service is a list of names maintained by the U.S. government to use in case a national emergency requires expansion of the Armed Forces

Registering with Selective Service is NOT signing up for the Armed Forces.

Register at your local United States Post Office or online. Online registration generates automatic receipt/proof of registration. Keep proof of registration.

Early Childhood Education

California now offers Transitional Kindergarten to children ages 4-5 at no cost.

Adult Education

Lists schools which are accredited to provide the training and the degree which will be recognized as valid

Provides assistance to refugees and asylees who were professionals in their own country to apply for licensure in their field here in California


Call1-800-952-5210, non-English 833-498-2006

For college or university or vocational training programs. This federal application is used by all students in the United States to determine if government assistance to help pay for costs may be available. Start early and pay attention to state as well as federal deadlines to file the FAFSA online.

No-cost resource to learn English online

No-cost resource to learn English online with units on cultural orientation, parenting in the U.S., and laws

Welcome Corps

Report cases of fraud (for example, individuals asking for money in exchange for becoming a private sponsor or to assist in submitting an application)

For Afghan clients

For Afghan clients, the following resources are available:

A 24-hour crisis helpline for individuals in crisis needing immediate, culturally appropriate counseling in Dari, Pashto, and English | Call 1-800-615-6514

Domestic violence and sexual abuse support for women and youth | Call 1-800-615-6514

Support and welfare check-ins for Afghan minors (upon ORR request and approval)

Resources to Save Money

Provides discounted cell phone services to eligible households

A federal program for discounted internet service and discounts on laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.

A program for internet service at a discount for low-income families with children.

A program to provide low-cost internet service and computers.

For discounts on electric and gas bills for eligible households

For low- to moderate-income households

  • No-Cost Smart Phone Program

A federal program for qualified low-income households for one free cell phone per household with unlimited text, call, and subsidized data plan with two providers in CA.

Compare as must only choose one provider; phone arrives in mail directly from company.

Apply online with provider 1

Apply online with provider 2