Beyond Welfare and Work First

Building Services and Systems to Support California’s Working Poor and Hard-to-Place

| Steven Bliss

California’s welfare reform program, CalWORKs, has been successful at lowering welfare caseloads and moving welfare recipients into employment, but through year-end 2000, many families exiting CalWORKs remained in poverty. As a result, CalWORKs intensified its focus on job retention and advancement, income supports, and financial incentives designed to increase families’ income. In January 2001, MDRC convened a three-day conference in Sacramento with the aim of bringing together state legislators, key state and local officials, executive staff, service providers, and advocates for a discussion of the crucial issues facing California’s welfare and workforce development systems. Highlighting the conference’s key messages and themes, this publication is intended to serve as a resource manual that presents innovative thinking on how policies and services can better meet the needs of California’s poor.