California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)


BACKGROUND:  The CalWORKs program is a time-limited program that provides financial assistance to eligible needy families with (or expecting) children to help pay for housing, food, utilities, clothing, medical care, and other necessary expenses.

Specific eligibility requirements take into account an applicant's citizenship, age, income, resources, assets and other factors.

Generally, services are available to:

  • Families that have a child(ren) in the home who has been deprived of parental support or care because of the absence, disability or death of either parent.
  • Families with a child(ren) when both parents are in the home but the principal earner is unemployed.
  • Needy caretaker relatives of a foster child(ren)

Time Limits:

  • With the passage of Welfare Reform in 1996, and the later implementation of California’s CalWORKs Program in January 1998, the receipt of cash assistance in California became subject to a 24-month time limit for most adults.
  • The 24-month time clock starts as soon as the participant's aid is approved

Supportive Services for persons to overcome employment barriers:

  • Domestic Violence services including counseling, medical and public health information, parenting skills training, financial planning and relocation activities;
  • Substance Abuse services including evaluation and treatment;
  • Mental Health services (depression, anxiety, etc.) including assessment, case management, treatment and rehabilitation

“Until I came here I had no faith in the system at all…. But you guys, you’re different… you have really helped me. I know you guys care.” – M.N., client


PACS offers supportive mental health services to CalWORKs participants in Service Area 5 and Service Area 8.  Clients are referred by their Gain Social Worker (GSW) from the Department of Social Services (DPSS).  At the time of admission, a thorough clinical assessment will be completed which include information about presenting problems, symptoms, psychiatric history, daily functioning, work history and screening for co-morbid substance abuse.  This information will be used to determine an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment planning.  The focus of intervention will be to minimize or eliminate barriers to successful employment or higher education.  Planning and coordination of these services will be developed with input from the client to incorporate their short and long term treatment goals.  These goals will be reviewed once every three months by the clinician and the client.

From Left: Tamara, Mike, Amarri, Angelequea, Lisa and Karina.

PACS determines the level of care to remove the barriers to employment.  This may include any of the following:  individual therapy, conjoint therapy, family therapy, group therapy using the “Life Skills Support Group” curriculum, evidence-based practices, medication support services by a staff psychiatrist, crisis intervention, case management including linkages that move clients towards self-sufficiency and other rehabilitation services.

“The services PACS offer have been very supportive…very positive assisting me with my everyday life… My case management team is awesome… my employment specialist (focused on helping maintain work and assist with any obstacles that may arise i.e. clothing or transportation) and case manager who offers assistance with…my search for safe and decent housing.” –L.R., client

PACS uses Supported Employment to apply the evidenced-based practice of Individual Placement and Support (IPS) to help clients compete in the workforce.  IPS is an intensive multidisciplinary team approach; each team consists of a Clinical Coordinator, Clinicians, a Case Manager, and an Employment Specialist.  A team approach and weekly team meetings are vital to the success of the program to remove barriers to employment or education. Treatment is usually about 12 months.  Services are individualized, focused on Client strengths, and long-lasting.  The IPS Program at PACS has maintained a consistent 30% - 40% success rate.

Currently, we offer the “Life Skills Group” for CalWORKs participants as well as other optional groups such as the Depression Group and the Anger Management Group.