Press Releases

County to Implement State-Required Fingerprint "Imaging"

County Executive Office - Press Release

June 6, 2000

Contact: Pauline Notch
(714) 541-7782

County to Implement State-Required Fingerprint "Imaging"

(Santa Ana) – New technology will go into use next month as the County’s Social Services Agency (SSA) implements a state requirement to collect scanned fingerprint and photo images of all CalWORKS and food stamp recipients.

"This new requirement is simply another piece of identification, such as a Social Security number which we already gather, that will be compulsory for all current recipients and new applicants," said Larry Leaman, SSA Director. "The images will become part of a statewide Social Services database that will help prevent potential welfare fraud. The fingerprints will not be shared with any other agency including local police and sheriff’s departments or immigration services. Using this tool as another screening method will help us ensure that only eligible people receive this aid."

Beginning in July, all new applicants must comply with this requirement. CalWORKs and food stamp recipients will be phased in over the next 12 months. Also beginning next month, appointment letters will be mailed to clients with instructions to visit the Santa Ana, Anaheim, Garden Grove or Laguna Hills offices. At the office, the recipient will be asked to place two fingers on an electronic scan screen. The equipment obtains an electronic scan of the fingerprints and a computer photo image of the client. These images will be matched against other California welfare recipients to alert for any attempts to receive duplicate aid. The program requires that the fingerprints and photo image also be obligatory for the parents or caretakers of children receiving assistance, even though the adults do not receive aid. The same requirement holds true for any applicant or aided adult who is 18 or over.

"Because it would be the adults, not the children, who would make application for assistance, the program requires that we gather their fingerprints and photo image – whether or not they receive aid, and whether or not they are citizens," said Leaman. "But I would remind the public that the results of this new method of gathering identification will only be used within the social services database and not with any other agency."

The state law that created this program requires that failure to comply with the fingerprint imaging requirement will result in denial or discontinuance of benefits for the entire family.