May 13, 2020 / 2:59 PM / 19 days ago

False claim: California Department of Social Services letter says failure to obtain COVID-19 test will result in suspension of benefits and positive test will result in removal of children

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Social media users have been sharing an image online that shows a fake letter from the State of California’s Department of Social Services.

Examples can be seen ( ) and ( ).

The letter is addressed to those receiving state assistance benefits. It explains that failure to obtain a COVID-19 test by June 1, 2020, will result in the suspension of benefits and a positive test may result in removal of all children who tested negative from the household. The children would be placed in foster care until the parent or guardian recovers.

The letter reads: “Failure to obtain a test by June 1, 2020, will result in the temporary suspension of your benefits beginning July, 1, 2020, and continue until such time that testing has been completed. In addition, should you test positive for COVID-19, and in compliance with the State of California Welfare and Institutions Code, The Human Services Agency of Merced County may deem it necessary to remove all children (under the age of 18) from your household who have tested negative, and place them in temporary foster care until such time that you have been determined to be recovered.”

Social Services released a statement on their website confirming that this letter is fake. ( ) The statement reads: “We have alerted the appropriate county authorities for investigation. If you receive this letter, please disregard it. State departments and county human services departments NEVER will ask about your health status in connection to an application for benefits. Similarly, children must be subject to abuse or neglect to enter foster care. Children cannot be put into foster care just because a parent may be ill.”


False. The letter was fabricated to appear as if it came from the State of California’s Department of Social Services.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .

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