Welfare's Loss Is Riverside County's GAIN

By Kellogg, Camille | Nation's Cities Weekly, June 22, 1998 | Go to article overview
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Welfare's Loss Is Riverside County's GAIN


Kellogg, Camille, Nation's Cities Weekly


When Congress enacted the Federal Welfare Reform legislation in 1996, states were required to cut their welfare caseloads by 25 percent in 1997 and 50 percent by the year 2002. As a result, scores of programs across America have committed to help welfare clients make the transition from welfare to work. Riverside County, California's Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) is one of those programs.

GAIN is a large-scale welfare-to-work initiative that has operated since 1989 throughout the state. It is operated by California's 58 counties under the supervision of the State Department of Social Services. It operates under the philosophy: Get people into jobs as quickly as possible, and then work with them to stay on the job. That philosophy is based on a belief in a basic work ethic.

"Part of our philosophy states, `We strongly believe that work has value over and above the obvious one of income. Work provides dignity, satisfaction and self respect,'" said Marilyn Kuhlman, GAIN program manager.

Riverside County's GAIN program has consistently out-performed other welfare-to-work programs nationwide. One independent research organization that has rigorously analyzed and compared GAIN's performance with a variety of welfare reform efforts said that the GAIN program was having an effect "greater than those found in other large-scale welfare-to-work programs." While some welfare recipients may volunteer to take part in GAIN, welfare recipients who refuse to participate, if required to by law, could have their welfare grants reduced.

One important reason for GAIN's success is its full range of services to participants: job-seeking assistance, GED preparation, adult basic education (i.e,. English as a Second Language), assessment, occupational skills training, post-secondary education, on-the-job training, alternative work experience, and preemployment preparation (unpaid work in a public or non-profit organization).

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