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The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is California's response to the welfare reforms Congress set in motion in 1996. The most visible features of this program are its emphasis on moving welfare recipients from reliance on government cash assistance to work and toward self-sufficiency; its use of time limits and participation requirements; its provision of certain services, such as child care and job search assistance, to make participation easier; and its devolution of program authority from the state to the county level. Here, the authors examine the first year of CalWORKs, focusing on the planning and implementation processes and the effects of the program to date. Four themes emerged that will be explored further in future reports: (1) Organizations have changed in response to the expanded mission of CalWORKs, despite limited time for planning. (2) Implementation is under way, but recipient compliance is low. (3) Counties currently have sufficient funds, but this may change. (4) Achieving earnings needed to achieve self-sufficiency before time limits expire is a challenge.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Historical Background and Context for Federal and California Welfare Reform Legislation

  • Chapter Three

    Planning for CalWORKs at the State and County Levels

  • Chapter Four

    Implementing CalWORKs: County Status in Moving Through the Welfare-To-Work Process

  • Chapter Five

    Implementing CalWORKs: Providing Support Services

  • Chapter Six

    Reorganization Status at the State and County Levels

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions and Emerging Themes

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was prepared for the California Department of Social Services.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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