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Comparing CalWORKs Take-Up Rates Across Demographic Groups


Estimating the CalWORKs Take-Up Rate

February 2, 2021 - This is the first in a series of several posts estimating the percentage of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)-eligible individuals who actually enroll in the program—otherwise known as the CalWORKs take-up rate. In this post, we introduce our methodology for estimating the number of families eligible for CalWORKs since 2005 and compare this to the number who actually enrolled. In future posts, we plan to examine how this take-up rate varies between different regions in the state, as well as possible reasons why it varies regionally and has changed over time.


[PDF] Options for a State Earned Income Tax Credit

December 18, 2014 - In June 2014, the Legislature directed the LAO to prepare a report analyzing the costs, benefits, and trade-offs of various options for a state earned income tax credit (EITC) that would supplement the federal credit. This report discusses considerations for adopting a state EITC and provides three options for the Legislature's consideration.


CalWORKs Welfare Reform: Major Provisions and Issues

January 23, 1998 - We recommendation various adjustments to the California Legislature established the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program in 1997.


Restructuring California's Child Care and Development System

April 4, 2014 - We believe California's child care and development system has several serious design flaws. Most notably, families accessing some subsidized child care programs may choose among a broad array of providers whereas families accessing other programs have access to child care only offered in particular places. In addition, some child care programs are required to include developmentally appropriate activities whereas other programs are required to meet only health and safety standards. While these two elements--choice and developmentally appropriate care--are strengths of specific child care programs, the fundamental shortcoming of California's current system is that no subsidized program exhibits both of these strengths concurrently. Given the serious shortcomings of the state's child care and development system, we recommend the Legislature fundamentally restructure it. Our report lays out a plan for a new, simplified, more rational system that treats similar families similarly. Since a fundamental restructuring would take time, the report also includes a roadmap that the Legislature could use for incrementally moving to this new system.


The 2012-13 Budget: The Governor's CalWORKs and Child Care Proposals

February 22, 2012 - The Governor proposes to reduce funding for the CalWORKs program and state-subsidized child care programs. Under his budget plan, these programs would be reduced a total of $1.4 billion or about 20 percent in 2012-13 compared to what current law otherwise would require. These savings would be achieved by imposing stricter limits on which families are eligible to receive which types of services, as well as lowering state payments for CalWORKs recipients and child care providers. Additionally, the Governor’s proposal would make major changes to the way the state administers both welfare-to-work and child care services. In this report, we describe and analyze the Governor’s proposals related to the CalWORKs program and then turn to a similar discussion of the proposed changes to child care programs. We conclude by providing the Legislature with illustrative packages of ways to achieve savings in these two areas using different approaches than the Governor's.


Income Mobility in California Across Generations

January 4, 2017 - In this report, we analyze intergenerational income mobility in California—the extent to which children attain higher (or lower) incomes than their parents. We find that California children have somewhat higher rates of income mobility than their peers in other states. The report’s findings suggest this is the result of their parents’ and their own characteristics, not because growing up in California results in more mobility.

Three short videos highlight some of the concepts and findings in the report.


[PDF] The 2016-17 Budget: Analysis of Child Care and Preschool Proposals

February 24, 2016 - In this report, we analyze the Governor’s child care and preschool proposals. The report includes (1) a high-level overview of the proposed child care and preschool budget, and (2) an assessment of the Governor's proposals to restructure California's child care and preschool programs. At the end of the report, we provide a summary of our recommendations.


The 2019-20 Budget: Student Food and Housing Insecurity at the University of California

April 25, 2019 - The Governor proposes to provide the University of California (UC) with ongoing funding to address student food and housing insecurity. UC indicates it would use the proposed funds either to augment student financial aid or support specific food and housing initiatives. In this brief, we provide background, then describe the Governor’s proposal. Next, we offer issues to consider and provide associated recommendations.


Model for Health Coverage of Low-Income Families

June 2, 1999 - Roughly two million low-income children and their parents, primarily in working families, do not have health coverage in California. We have developed a “Family Coverage Model” which would result in an additional 0.9 million to 1.4 million persons obtaining health coverage at an annual cost of $188 million to $385 million annually when fully implemented.


[PDF] Measuring CalWORKs Performance

September 6, 2017 - Currently, performance measurement in the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is relatively limited and largely focuses on processes involved with the program's operation—particular emphasis is given to a federal performance measure known as the "work participation rate" (WPR)—rather than on the program's end results, or outcomes. As part of the 2017-18 budget package, the Legislature adopted a new framework for performance measurement in CalWORKs that will be known as the CalWORKs Outcomes and Accountability Review (Cal-OAR). In this report, we outline the rationales for measuring program performance and outline why, ideally, performance measurement should focus on outcomes. We then raise several issues to be considered as the Cal-OAR system is further developed and implemented in the coming years.


The 2019-20 Budget: Early Education Analysis

March 4, 2019 - In this report, we provide an overview of the Governor’s early education proposals, then analyze his three major proposals in this area. Specifically, we analyze his proposals to (1) fund facilities for more full‑day kindergarten programs, (2) make targeted one‑time improvements to the child care and preschool system, and (3) expand the number of full‑day preschool slots. We then assess the administration’s cost estimates for the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) child care programs. We end the report with a summary of our early education recommendations.


Child Development

February 21, 2007 - Our five-year forecast shows Proposition 98 funding is to increase much more than needed to cover baseline costs. Thus, we think this is an opportune time to develop an education roadmap that lays out funding priorities, coordinates investments, and implements accompanying policy improvements. Given the significant achievement gap between low-income children and their higher income peers, our suggested roadmap includes expanding early child development and preschool programs for low-income children. To help ensure success of any program expansion, we also make various recommendations relating to wrap around child care, facilities, and program quality.