Welfare Reform in California

State and County Implementation of CalWORKs in the First Year -- Executive Summary

by Gail L. Zellman, Jacob Alex Klerman, Elaine Reardon, Paul S. Steinberg


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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. This executive summary focuses on the four themes that have emerged from the authors' work to date: (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

  • Preface

  • Figures

    Figures and Tables

  • Acknowledgements


  • Abbreviations

  • Chapter 1


  • Chapter 2

    Organizations Have Changed in Response to the Expanded Mission of CalWORKs, Despite Limited Time for Planning

  • Chapter 3

    Implementation Is Under Way, but Recipient Compliance Is Low

  • Chapter 4

    Counties Currently Have Sufficient Funds, but This May Change

  • Chapter 5

    Achieving Earnings Needed to Achieve Self-Sufficiency Before Time Limits Expire Is a Challenge

  • Chapter 6

    Implications for Follow-On Activities

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