February 19, 2023

County of San Diego Creates New Pathways to Self-Sufficiency Through CalWORKs Program

By Debra Fitzgerald, Health Planning and Program Specialist, County of San Diego

Julia was a single mother of three. She had a high school diploma but had been out of work for several years and had few job prospects. She wanted to attend college and expand her knowledge and capabilities as an artist but could not afford school.  

That’s when Julia heard about the CalWORKs Employment Services Program. The program helps prepare eligible families with children to find meaningful work to support their families.  The ultimate goal of the program is to help move individuals from dependency to self-sufficiency through employment.  

Through the Employment Services Program, Julia was able to receive help with transportation and school costs, as well as childcare services to allow her time to go to school and work.  With the support she received, Julia graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a bachelor of arts degree in visual arts studio.  

With degree in hand, she established herself as an independent contractor and professional artist doing freelance work, and she is now able to support her family while doing work that she loves.  

“Higher education and self-sufficiency were a far-away dream before I got help from CalWORKs,” said Julia. “This program made college a reality for me. There is a misconception that people living in poverty are lazy, stupid, or unresourceful and that is just not true.  I encourage any parent who has fallen on tough times to consider this assistance and work toward their personal best to achieve whatever dream they have for their family’s future.”

CalWORKs is an acronym for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids and is a program of the County of San Diego Self-Sufficiency Services. It is a cash aid program for low-income families to meet their basic needs, such as housing, food, and utilities.

It also provides education, employment, and training programs to help families get jobs and move toward self-sufficiency.  The County partners with Public Consulting Group and Equus Workforce Solutions to help customers with job coaching and employment opportunities. Childcare, transportation, work expenses, and counseling are available for families in work activities. There are also special services for pregnant and parenting teens through the Cal-Learn program. In addition, Medi-Cal is automatically issued to everyone receiving CalWORKs.

Learn more about the CalWORKs program through the County of San Diego.