In response to federal welfare reform—the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA)—California enacted the Thompson-Maddy-Ducheny-Ashburn Welfare-to-Work Act of 1997 on August 11, 1997. That legislation replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN), the state's associated welfare-to-work (WTW) program, with the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program.
CalWORKs is a modified “work-first” program that provides services to help welfare recipients move from welfare to work and toward self-sufficiency. Most recipients have Job Club (a structured job search program) as their first activity, although some go directly to assessment and other activities to improve their job readiness. CalWORKs also imposes lifetime limits on the receipt of cash assistance by adults to further motivate recipients to make these transitions. Finally, CalWORKs devolves to California's 58 counties increased flexibility and financial accountability in designing their welfare programs. With the enactment of the CalWORKs legislation, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and the county welfare departments (CWDs) moved promptly to design and implement the new programs, a process that lasted well into calendar year 1999.1
This report, prepared by RAND under contract from CDSS as part of the Statewide CalWORKs Evaluation, is the first of two reports on the impact of CalWORKs. The report's structure and analyses are guided by a conceptual model of the pathways through which welfare reform and other factors affect work activity participation rates, welfare caseloads, and outcomes for welfare leavers. These outcomes, as well as the ways they vary through time, between California and the other states, and across California's 58 counties, are affected____________________