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This report describes the implementation of California's Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program in its first two years. According to the CalWORKs welfare-to-work model, immediately following the approval of the aid application, nearly all recipients search for jobs in the context of Job Clubs. For those who do not find employment through job search, an intensive assessment and a sequence of activities follow, to identify and overcome barriers to employment. Implementation in most counties is proceeding more slowly than some observers had hoped, but about as fast as could realistically be expected. County welfare districts (CWDs) face the dual challenge of expanding their capacity to deal with the new, higher, steady-state workload that CalWORKs entails and handling the much larger one-time surge of old cases as they move through the system. Providing mandated support services — child care and transportation; education and training; and treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, mental health, and domestic abuse — has been a challenge for most CWDs. To cope with this expanded workload, they have made different capacity-building decisions. The slow pace of movement through the system is worrisome, however, given the five-year lifetime limit that aid recipients face. Finally, those who have found jobs often do not earn enough to move them completely off aid and toward self-sufficiency. Additional post-employment services appear to be needed.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    PRWORA and CalWORKS: Legislative Provisions and Subsequent Caseload Trends

  • Chapter Three

    Implementation of CalWORKS at CDSS

  • Chapter Four

    Funding of CalWORKS

  • Chapter Five

    County Implementation: Organizing for CalWORKS

  • Chapter Six

    Delivering CalWORKS at the Street Level

  • Chapter Seven

    Child Care

  • Chapter Eight


  • Chapter Nine

    Education and Training

  • Chapter Ten

    Substance Abuse, Mental Illness, and Domestic Abuse Services

  • Chapter Eleven

    Child Well-Being and Welfare

  • Chapter Twelve

    Issues for Further Consideration

  • Appendix A


  • Appendix B

    Federal Welfare Funding after PRWORA

  • Appendix C

    Process for Categorizing Counties for Analysis Using WTW 25 Data and County-by-County Analysis

The research described in this report was performed by the RAND Statewide CalWORKs Evaluation within RAND'sLabor and Population Program.

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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