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Financial Assistance: Employment Assistance

Last modified: 12/19/2012 11:53 AM

CalWORKs Employment Services (CWES)

All parents and caretaker relatives who receive CalWORKs cash assistance must participate with CalWORKs Employment Services (CWES) unless they are exempt. CalWORKs stands for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids. It is California’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program and provides temporary cash aid to eligible families with minor children. CalWORKs also provides assistance in finding and keeping a job through its Employment Services Division (CWES).

CWES activities include job-related education or training and/or job-search preparation such as attending a job-preparation workshop, participating in practice job interviews, and going to actual job interviews. The goal of the CWES Program is to help clients prepare for work and find a job so that they can become self-sufficient.

Basic Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for employment services, you must be a CalWORKs recipient or be employed and have received CalWORKs cash aid in the last 12 months. Refer to the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) for eligibility requirements for cash aid.
CWES Activities
Some of the activities that clients participate in are:
  • Orientation/Appraisal – This first activity will explain the CWES program and an appraisal will be done to examine each client’s skills and abilities.
  • Job Club – Prepares a client to be job-ready and actively seek employment.  It consists of one week of classroom instruction (to help clients set goals, write resumes, acquire job interview skills, and keep a job) followed by additional weeks of structured Job Search/Networking.
  • Self-Initiated Programs – If a client is currently enrolled in a full-time vocational training or educational program at an approved school and expected to complete the program prior to using their 48-month time limit, the County may approve this as a self-sufficiency activity.
  • Assessment – This activity is for the client and the County to put together an Employment Plan to help the client get a job. Assessment staff will look at a client’s abilities, interests, achievement tests, work history, and education. CWES will also assess for learning disabilities.
  • Adult Basic Education Services – If a client has not completed high school, does not have basic reading or math skills, or does not speak English, he/she may be assigned to an educational activity such as Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language (ESL), or GED classes. CWES also offers a special program for learning disabled clients called Keys to Success.
  • Work Experience / Community Service – In this activity clients will develop their job skills by training and working in public or private non-profit organizations or private companies. Clients will not receive wages but will build up their work history.
  • Vocational Training – This activity will teach clients skills to qualify them for a specific job. Vocational programs are often short-term and may result in a certificate.
  • Retention and Advancement Services – Helps clients keep their jobs and/or secure higher paying positions as they work toward self-sufficiency.
  • Sessions to Enhance Professional Skills (STEPS) and Job Enhancement Tools (JET) – During these workshops clients gain valuable job readiness skills to prepare them for their next CWES activity.
  • Subsidized Employment – This activity is funded through Assembly Bill 98 that provides job placements. Clients receive valuable work experience and receive paid wages. The wages the employer pays are subsidized. 


Supportive Services
CWES will help clients with supportive services in order to allow them to participate in a self-sufficiency activity. Supportive services include:

  • Child Care – If child care is necessary for a client to get a job or participate in other CWES activities, child care payments can be made for children under 13 who are in the client’s CalWORKs case.
  • Transportation – The County will pay up to a certain amount for travel to and from the self-sufficiency activity and travel to and from the child care location.
  • Work or Training Related Expenses – Payments for books, tools and special clothing can also be made if it is necessary for a client to participate in assigned activities.
  • Ancillary Services – Counseling and treatment services are available to clients in the areas of domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health. Also included are vehicle repairs and conviction record expunge. 


Mandatory Participation
Participation in the CalWORKs program is mandatory unless a client is exempt. Clients in one-parent households are required to participate 32 hours per week. Clients in two-parent households must participate 35 hours per week. A client’s cash grant will be lowered if he or she refuses or fails to meet program requirements without a good reason. If a client is sanctioned, the participant will need to meet program requirements prior to having their sanction removed. 
Exemption Criteria

Clients may be eligible for an exemption if they:

  • Are under 16 years of age or 60 years or older.
  • Are 16, 17, or 18 years old and go to school (not college) full time.
  • Are pregnant and a doctor states they cannot work or participate in CWES.
  • Have a disability that is expected to last at least 30 days that would keep them from participating in CWES and they are getting or trying to get medical help.
  • Are a non-parent relative caring for a child who is a dependent of the court or a child at risk of placement in foster care.
  • Must stay home to take care of another member of the household who is ill or incapacitated.
  • Are a parent or caretaker relative of a child 6 months or younger and are providing care for that child. A parent who has previously used the 6 month exemption, will only qualify for a 3 month exemption for subsequent child up to the child turning 3 months of age.
Two new temporary exemptions were implemented that will end on December 31, 2012 or until the family no longer qualifies for the exemption. A caretaker/parent of:

  • Two or more children under 6 years of age and are providing care for that child;
  • A child between 12-23 months old and are providing care for that child. 


Applying for CalWORKs  

CalWORKs Clients are referred to the CalWORKs Employment Services (CWES) program by their Eligibility Worker. A CalWORKs cash aid recipient who is exempt from participation in CWES can volunteer to participate in the program.
Find out more about California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs).