SANTA ANA, California – A former Orange County social worker pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal charge that he distributed computer video files that contained sexually explicit videos depicting children, including infants and toddlers.Carlos Castillo, 62, of Santa Ana, pleaded guilty via videoconference to a single-count information charging him with distribution of child pornography. According to his plea agreement, Castillo worked at Orange County’s Social Services Agency from May 2002 to January 2020. Beginning in August 2007, Castillo was a placement senior social worker whose responsibilities included assessing applicants’ suitability to provide care of children who are in protective custody, completing a home and grounds environment assessment, and placing children into homes. In November 2019, Castillo knowingly distributed child pornography consisting of three video files, the plea agreement states. Castillo admitted that he, using the screen name “Ratster12” as a member of a child pornography group that used the LiveMe application, posted a link to another webpage containing three videos depicting prepubescent children, including infants and toddlers, who were being sexually assaulted by adults and other children. Castillo also admitted that in January 2020 he possessed a Dell computer, two flash drives and an Apple iPhone that contained at least 1,027 videos and 914 images of child pornography. Castillo further admitted that he possessed videos of minors undressing that Castillo had recorded from LiveMe. In addition, he admitted to possession of pictures of minors in public without the authorization or knowledge of the minors or their parents. United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney has scheduled an April 19 sentencing hearing, at which time Castillo will face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The FBI investigated this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Vibhav Mittal of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.
Orange County, Calif. – Following the Governor’s Regional Stay-at-Home Order that went to effect on Sunday December 6th in Southern California and other regions throughout the state, Orange County residents are required to remain at home as much as possible to reduce their exposure to illness. As a result, the County of Orange Social Services Agency (SSA) highly encourages that residents apply for and/or access their essential public assistance benefits and services by phone or online and avoid in-office visits for their safety and the safety of the community.
Orange County households interested in applying for CalFresh, Medi-Cal, General Relief and CalWORKs benefits or wishing to review existing case information are strongly encouraged to visit SSA’s online portal or contact the SSA Call Center, as outlined below.
- Online: www.mybenefitscalwin.org
- As another option, individuals applying for CalFresh benefits only may visit www.getcalfresh.org
- Households interested in applying for Medi-Cal only may visit www.coveredca.com
- By Phone: please call SSA’s Call Center at (800) 281-9799
- Call Center hours are Weekdays (Monday – Friday) from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
While SSA will also continue to offer services from four regional offices currently open to the public with limited functionality, the Agency urges the public to use alternative access points if possible. The limited functionality at four regional offices allows for in-office visits, especially for those individuals who may have limited or no access to a phone or internet. SSA triage staff will continue to conduct brief visitor health screenings at these locations and all visitors must wear appropriate face coverings prior to entering the facilities.
The following SSA regional office locations are currently open to the public on Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Aliso Viejo Regional Center at 115 Columbia, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
- Anaheim Regional Center at 3320 E. La Palma Ave., Anaheim, CA 92806
- Garden Grove Regional Center at 12912 Brookhurst St., Garden Grove, CA 92840
- Santa Ana Regional Center at 1928 S. Grand Ave., BLDG. B, Santa Ana, CA 92705
According to SSA Director Debra Baetz, “SSA continues to deliver essential services and critical safety net benefits to the community, and as such, we will continue to keep our four regional offices open to the public with limited hours.” She continued, “However, the same services being provided from these offices can be obtained through our online portal as well the SSA Call Center. We urge you stay home, stay safe and utilize these alternate access points.”
Residents can access other SSA services and programs as follows:
• SSA will continue to provide drive-through benefits issuance — for the distribution of new and replacement Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and Benefits Identification Cards (BIC) — by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, please call the SSA Call Center at (800) 281-9799 or contact your assigned caseworker.
• To apply for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) or for questions related to ongoing IHSS cases, please call (714) 825-3000 or fax (714) 825-3001.
• To apply for Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), please call (800) 281-9799.
• If you suspect a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, call our Child Abuse Registry at (800) 207-4464 or (714) 940-1000.
• Please call the Adult Protective Services Hotline at (800) 451-5155 if you suspect a senior or dependent adult is at risk of abuse or neglect.
For additional information on SSA programs, visit: www.ssa.ocgov.com.
To stay up-to-date on information concerning the COVID-19 situation in Orange County, go to: www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.
Orange County, Calif. (May 8, 2020) – On Friday, April 24, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved California’s application to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program during the COVID-19 crisis.
Beginning today, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) will issue P-EBT benefits to CalFresh, Medi-Cal, CalWORKs and Foster Care households with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals as well as to households with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals whose schools are closed due to the COVID-19 emergency.
Through the program, households will receive up to $365 for each child who is eligible for P-EBT benefits. The total amount received depends on how many eligible children there are in the household and the P-EBT card will be paid up to the following amounts each month:
· March 2020: $68 per eligible child
· April 2020: $120 per eligible child
· May 2020: $120 per eligible child
· June 2020: $57 per eligible child
The California Department of Education (CDE) and CDSS estimate P-EBT benefits issuance of more than $1.4 billion to over 3.8 million school children throughout the state to address food insecurity during the crisis.
In Orange County, households with children who are directly certified to receive free and reduced-price school meals and are current CalFresh, CalWORKs, Medi-Cal or Foster Care benefit recipients, will automatically be mailed their P-EBT card by May 22 and do not need to apply for the benefit.
Orange County families with children from households eligible for free and reduced-price school meals through a school application, and some attending schools where meals are free for all students, who have not received a P-EBT card by 5/22/20, will need to apply online. The application period for P-EBT benefits will run beginning May 22 through June 30, 2020 at https://ca.p-ebt.org.
Students can still pick up to-go meals if they receive P-EBT benefits.
For more information, please refer to the P-EBT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Additional questions about the P-EBT program should be directed to the EBT Customer Service Center at (877) 328-9677 or by visiting https://ca.p-ebt.org/info.
Orange County, Calif. (April 17, 2020) – The County of Orange Social Services Agency (SSA) invites employees and citizens of Orange County to show their support in ending childhood abuse and neglect by wearing blue on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In addition, residents are encouraged to share photos of themselves while wearing blue and tagging photos using the hashtag #GoBlueForOCKids on social media.
Every April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month works to bring awareness to the warning signs and strategies that help protect our most vulnerable children. Participation in Child Abuse Awareness Month activities helps strengthen community support systems that help keep children safe. The challenge to protect our children has never been greater
as it is now, due to the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis on families.
“With the current closures of our schools and other safe havens that employ mandated reporters, children and families have less access to critical support systems and their community as a whole,” said Second District Supervisor Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She continued, “This year in particular, parents may feel a lack of support and feel more isolated. Now more than ever, it is crucial to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect if you suspect it.”
“The phrase, ‘if you see something, say something’ is especially important and relevant when it comes to the safety of our children. We continue to rely on teachers who are now providing distance learning, as well as doctors and other providers who are currently offering services through telehealth sessions, to be hyper-vigilant when connecting with children through virtual communications platforms,” stated First District Supervisor
Andrew Do, Vice Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
“Every child deserves a nurturing family and a safe environment, free from fear, abuse and neglect,” said Third District Supervisor Donald P. Wagner. He continued, “Today we wear blue in solidarity for child abuse awareness, intervention, and prevention.”
“While April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, ensuring our children grow up in safe and loving homes is important all year long,” said Fourth District Supervisor Doug Chaffee. He added, “As we observe Child Abuse Prevention Month and beyond, think of ways you can safely help families reduce stress, take breaks and stay connected.”
“The safety of children is a shared responsibility – especially during these unprecedented times,” said Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett. She added, “We encourage you to connect with neighbors, relatives and friends by phone, text and/or online video platforms like FaceTime or Skype to check in and let them know you care.”
If you suspect or know of a child being abused, please call the County of Orange Social Services Agency Child Abuse Registry at 714-940-1000 or 800-207-4464, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The County of Orange Social Services Agency (OCSSA) provides Adult Services, Aid Programs, eligibility for public assistance benefits,
Children & Family Services and Family Self-Sufficiency programs to the County’s residents. OCSSA employs over 4,000 staff across
Orange County. For more information, visit us at http://ssa.ocgov.com/.
Orange County, Calif. – The County of Orange Social Services Agency (SSA) announced that the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued emergency CalFresh allotments as authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The emergency allotments will raise each household’s monthly allotment of CalFresh to the maximum allowable based on household size for March and April 2020. CalFresh households already receiving the maximum allotment will not receive an emergency allotment.
The March 2020 emergency allotment will be available on April 12, 2020. The April emergency allotment will be available on May 10, 2020. The emergency allotments will be issued on the client’s existing electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.
In addition, SSA reported the following program changes as a result of the COVID-19 situation:
- Recipients of CalFresh (unless eligible for the Emergency CalFresh Allotment), CalWORKs and/or General Relief benefits will continue at the same level for March, April and May 2020.
- CalFresh, General Relief and CalWORKs Customers are not required to submit a Semi-Annual Report (SAR 7), Quarterly Report (QR 7) or Annual Recertification/ Redetermination paperwork.
- Recertification/Redeterminations will be due six months from clients’ original due dates and clients will receive a notification letter informing them of their new due dates.
- Medi-Cal benefits will continue at the same level for March, April, May and June 2020 and Annual Renewal packets will not be processed at this time.
· IHSS Reassessments: while SSA is mandated to continue to perform reassessments, IHSS reassessments have been automatically extended for 90 days from March 18, 2020.
o It is important to note that SSA staff are still performing these reassessments; however, due to COVID-19, the State permitted this extension in recognition that counties’ workforces may be impacted and the extension will assist in ensuring completion of these reassessments.
Important SSA Contact Information:
- Residents may apply for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs and General Relief online at www.MyBenefitsCalWIN.org.
- SSA Call Centeris available from Monday – Friday from 6;30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at (800)-281-9799 for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, CalWORKs and General Relief Applications or questions.
· To apply for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) or for questions related to ongoing IHSS cases, call (714) 825-3000.
To stay up to date with information concerning the COVID-19 situation in Orange County, please visit http://www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.
County of Orange Social Services Agency Warns of Facebook Phishing Scam
Orange County, CA – The County of Orange Social Services Agency (SSA) is warning residents of a phishing scam on Facebook that attempts to obtain cardholder information of CalWORKs, CalFresh, and General Relief clients throughout California.
The California Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cardholder Call Center has received complaints that “someone” posted a comment on Facebook advising cardholders to call a scam phone number – (877) 449-7795 – and provide their card number and PIN so that their benefits could be posted right away. This is a phishing attempt to obtain cardholder information. Continue reading