CalWORKs Analyses

Process Analyses

The process analyses will describe how CalWORKs has been implemented and will consider implementation both in the state government and in each of California's counties. Among the questions to be explored are:

  • How did governments plan for CalWORKs?
  • How did state and county welfare agencies coordinate with each other? With other government agencies? With nonprofit organizations? With private firms?
  • How were budgets allocated to implement CalWORKs' goals?
  • What changes were made in the flows of welfare recipients through welfare offices and in the services they receive?

The evaluation will answer such questions using a variety of methods, including:

  • An annual survey of welfare agencies and other affected organizations
  • Interviews with state- and county-level senior government officials and with supervisors and caseworkers in individual welfare offices
  • Questionnaires given to caseworkers and welfare recipients
  • Quarterly in-depth interviews with a small number of current and recent welfare recipients.

Impact Analyses

The impact analyses will explore the effects of CalWORKs from several perspectives. First, they will compare outcomes under CalWORKs to projected outcomes if AFDC had been left in place. Second, they will compare outcomes across California counties. Other counties could then adopt the policies of counties that appear to have better outcomes. Finally, selected analyses will compare outcomes under CalWORKs to outcomes in other states under TANF to inform policymakers of how the lessons learned in other states might apply to California.

Beyond simply supporting families and children during their period of need, CalWORKs aims to move recipients into the workforce and toward self-sufficiency and to discourage other families from considering long-term reliance on welfare. Consistent with those broader goals, the evaluation will consider impacts on three groups of people: (1) current welfare recipients; (2) former recipients after they leave the welfare system; and (3) possible future recipients.

For these groups, the evaluation will study the effects of CalWORKs on such areas as

  • The welfare system: How many people are participating in which programs? How long do they remain in the program? Do they return? What steps are they taking to move toward unsubsidized employment?
  • The transition to work: How many current and recent recipients are working? How much are they earning? Are their earnings growing over time?
  • The well-being of children and families: How has CalWORKs affected poverty among children and families? How has it affected the share of children living in two-parent families? How has it affected entries into, and exits from, foster care?

The evaluation will explore such questions by analyzing:

  • Statewide administrative databases
  • Administrative data in six focus counties
  • A new household survey in the six focus counties
  • National survey data.

Disseminating Results

RAND is evaluating CalWORKs under a contract with the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Its comprehensive, statewide evaluation of CalWORKs will provide timely and accurate findings to CDSS, the Legislature, and the public.

Results will be distributed regularly, starting with the public release of the first results in March 1999 and ending with the release of the final results in October 2001. Results will be available on the Internet at this website.