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CalWORKs in Transition

By Caroline Danielson

In recent years, California policymakers have made a number of cuts to major safety net programs to help balance the state budget—even as hard economic times have meant that increasing numbers of Californians are relying on government assistance. The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program (CalWORKs) has been one of the most affected.1 Since 2009, CalWORKs has seen a number of cuts, some intended to be short-lived, and others that, arguably, are reshaping the program piece by piece. In his January 2012 budget proposal, Governor Brown advocated significant additional cuts. These recent and proposed changes raise questions about the program’s goals going forward.


Federal Formula Grants: Federal Child Care Programs

By Tim Ransdell, Shervin Boloorian

The fast-growing, multibillion dollar federal child care financing system provides resources primarily to low- and moderate-income families to subsidize child care services and activities. With women entering the workforce in record numbers in recent years, government-supported public and private child care networks have come to serve as an economic aid for growing numbers of working families, including federal welfare recipients. Studies monitoring the effect of child care services indicate that the availability of such services can measurably increase the likelihood that a welfare family will successfully transition from government assistance to self-sufficiency.

This report reviews federal child care programs and the formulas used to distribute child care assistance funds to states, discusses California’s child care receipts under the current formula framework, compares the state’s experience to that of other states, and considers the effect of key child care reauthorization proposals in Congress on child care financing policies.


What Happens to Families When They Leave Welfare?

By Thomas E. MaCurdy, Margaret O’Brien-Strain, Grecia Marrufo

More than 1.4 million people left California's welfare rolls between August 1996 and September 2001. Although this dramatic decline in the caseload in the early years following welfare reform was seen by some as heralding the triumph of the new rules, others saw it as an alarm bell regarding the well-being of former welfare recipients. This report presents the findings of telephone surveys conducted in the late 1990s among one-parent and two parent families approximately 6 months and 12 months after they left welfare. The report presents snapshots of how well these families are doing during each of these periods, describing the families' economic security, use of public assistance, and difficulties encountered in maintaining employment and coping with adverse conditions. In addition to comparing circumstances over time, the report also identifies factors that might predict a return to welfare and other poor outcomes for families.

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