Welfare Reform in California

State and County Implementation of CalWORKs in the Second Year: Executive Summary

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


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Summarizes a larger report that 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

    Despite a Declining Caseload, the CWD Workload Has Increased

  • Chapter Three

    CWDs Made Different Capacity-Building Decisions to Deal with the Expanded Workload

  • Chapter Four

    The Flow of Cases Has Been Slow

  • Chapter Five

    Few Participants Are Moving into Post-Assessment Steps

  • Chapter Six

    The Number of Referrals to CalWORKs Services Has Been Low

  • Chapter Seven

    Issues for Further Consideration

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

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