Under the CalWORKs program, aided adults must participate in the Welfare-to-Work program in order to receive CalWORKs cash assistance in California, unless otherwise considered “exempt” from doing so. Because CalWORKs is Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), Welfare-to-Work offers services to help aided adults become self-sufficient so their family will not have to rely on CalWORKs.
Welfare-to-Work case management is designed to help aided adults engage in activities that guide these individuals toward gainful employment. Case managers, known as Employment and Training Workers in Del Norte County, begin by assessing an individual’s needs, goals and identify potential barriers that might keep someone from achieving self-sufficiency status. This is known as an appraisal. The appraisal process is a way for the individual to really begin focusing on the goal of finding gainful employment. For some people, education is that path toward this goal. For others, immediate employment is the objective. Job readiness and assistance with job search are also fundamental activities that the Employment and Training worker may recommend. Sometimes job readiness includes Work Experience and assigning the individual to participate in workshops designed to prepare someone for the world of work. Welfare-to-Work case managers also help determine if someone should be exempt from participation in Welfare-to-Work activities based on certain circumstances that may temporarily keep someone from participating in activities.
As mentioned previously, California requires that all aided adults (receiving CalWORKs cash assistance), participate in activities that will eventually lead to gainful employment or otherwise noted the term “self-sufficiency”. In 2014, California instated a 24-month Welfare-to-Work time clock to help Employment and Training workers and participants create plans that were beneficial to working towards achieving self-sufficiency. This new 24-month clock offers flexibility in terms of planning and using a mixture of approved activities as well as identifying areas of need that can be addressed prior to requiring an individual to pursue self-sufficiency. While this is still the goal, some people might need more time to resolve issues in order to have an individual plan that best suits them.
Exempt persons do not have to participate in Welfare-to-Work to keep getting CalWORKs cash assistance. Exemptions are defined primarily as medical, but there are some other exemptions that persons may qualify for under certain circumstances.
If an aided adult is not exempt or does not have a good reason for not participating in Welfare-to-Work, they may incur a “sanction” of their portion of the CalWORKs cash assistance until the sanction is resolved or fixed.
Cal-Learn (pregnant or parenting teens) receiving CalWORKs cash assistance do not have to participate in Welfare-to-Work unless they are not demonstrating satisfactory progress toward a high school diploma or equivalent.
CalWORKs cash aided adults participating in Welfare-to-Work either mandatorily or voluntarily, can receive all necessary support services in order to ensure they are able to participate in the approved Welfare-to-Work activities. Typically, these support services are advanced payments to providers, business etc. where goods, etc. are being requested for the person to participate in Welfare-to-Work. In some cases, these items can be reimbursed to the participant. Verification of the amount of payment for the item is always required. Transportation assistance includes; bus passes, gas advances, mileage reimbursement etc. There are different rules that apply to each of these, so the participant must discuss these options with their Employment and Training Worker. Support services can only be authorized if the participant has a signed Welfare-to-Work plan. On a case-by-case basis for “short term” activities, a plan is not necessary in order to receive some support services.
Cal-Learners are eligible for support services in order for regular school attendance.
As mentioned prior, CalWORKs aided adults can only get CalWORKs cash assistance for 48 total months (these do not have to be consecutive). Because CalWORKs is also Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), if the adult received aid in another state, those months will count against California’s 48 month total. Child support payment received by the county can “buy back” months where applicable. Exempt persons do not have their 48-month lifetime clock “tick” while they are exempt. Exemptions are medical, caring for a child 0-23 months of age or Domestic Violence. Some of these can only be used short term and only once-in-a lifetime. The Employment and Training staff will discuss this with each person.
As mentioned before, California has a 24-month Welfare-to-Work participation clock. This clock helps the Employment and Training worker and the participant determine which activities are most important to maximize Welfare-to-Work services.
Participating in Welfare-to-Work has several advantages as noted in the previous information. In addition to these items, there are also expanded services including, but not limited to, referrals to agencies that can help Welfare-to-Wok participants resolve barriers in order to fully engage in activities that lead to self-sufficiency.
Vocational Education, Adult Education (or general education courses), Vocational Certifications, Job Training, Job Readiness, Work Experience, Vocational Guidance, referrals to counseling services etc. Each person’s plan is unique and customized to ensure they are able to utilize the program services efficiently and effectively.