CalWORKs Here to help Low-Income Families

By William McMahan

Imagine you are a single parent with a dead end job and you want to make a change in your life but don’t know where to start, California Work Opportunities and Responsibilities for Kids is here to help make that transition easy for you.

A program here on campus called CalforniaWORKS provides services to support low-income families and their children. To be in this program, you must be the legal guardian of a child under the age of eighteen.

You can be a single parent, a grandparent or even have the legal guardianship over your siblings.

“I would say about ninety percent or more of our participants are single mothers,” Ana Aceves, a CalWORKS technician, said.

 To qualify for this program, the Department of Public Social Services refers the students to the Greater Avenues for Independence Program.

In order for the program to service them, they must have a referral from their GAIN worker. Recipients in the program, qualify for financial aid based off their income.

The GAIN worker is constantly verifying with CalWORKs the student’s needs. “We are constantly verifying to the GAIN worker what textbooks and supplies the students need,” Aceves said.

The GAIN worker will even question the elective classes the students are taking, if it is not part of their major.

The CalWORKs program helps students find jobs and pay for supplies they need for school. They need to submit their paperwork of supplies they need to their GAIN worker.

The GAIN worker then double checks everything through CalWORKs and the student is rewarded with the money they need. “They could be reimbursed or they could fill out the forms and receive the money later.” says Aceves.

InCalWORKs,is the students have to get monthly attendance sheets. “The county wants to know how many hours you were in class and how many you were studying,” Aceves said.

They also have to get progress reports throughout the semester on how they are currently doing in class. If the student is not doing good in their classes, the GAIN worker can drop them from the program.

When the student first gets started, they must  have a major selected and must  see a counselor to get their Student ED plans and enroll in classes.

“If they want to switch majors they have to redo all their GAIN paperwork with their worker,” says Aceves.

Then CalWORKs will submit  those documents to the GAIN worker. “It’s a case management, we have to show them the process and how the campus works,” Aceves said.

If the student needs help with childcare, they can get that paid for by GAIN as well. “It’s a contract between GAIN and the child care provider, the student doesn’t see the money,” Aceves said.

GAIN will provide the student with a list of childcares associated with them, based on their location which they can take their children to. They must submit their schedule to them so they can verify what hours they are in school.

CalWORKs can also help the students get jobs through a work-study program to get work experience on or off campus.

Usually a work-study program is through financial aid, but CalWORKs has their own work-study program. “If they get a job off campus it’s usually really close by, and they daycare will cover their work study hours as well,” Aceves said.

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