LA2050 Grants Challenge applications are open now through June 28th, 2024.
2023 Grants Challenge

Lifting Families out of Deep Poverty through CalWORKs Home Visitation Program (HVP)

Approximately 30% of eligible families in California are participating in CalWORKs public benefits system. Less than 1% of eligible families in Los Angeles County receive home visits through CalWORKS, despite evidence that the program is both highly effective and needed, offering everything from health to economic resources. Western Center will work at the State level to address barriers to CalWORKs enrollment and families' ability to access cash grants that can end deep poverty, while working at the County level to drive participation in HVP.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Income Inequality

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

Other:: Statewide

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Applying a proven model or solution to a new issue or sector (e.g., using a job recruiting software or strategy to match clients to supportive housing sites, applying demonstrated strategies from advocating for college affordability to advocating for housing affordability and homelessness, etc.)

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

While there is clear evidence that state infusions of emergency funding of safety net programs during the pandemic were instrumental in ameliorating poverty, policymakers continue to see this funding as situational and time-specific. Deep poverty, particularly in families with young children, is a pervasive extant problem that needs sustained levels of investment. We are at a critical juncture in CalWORKs' history and have an opportunity to make groundbreaking improvements in the Home Visitation Program that will set up families living in poverty, for success and positive health and economic outcomes. Having worked in this space for decades, we are aware that there are shifting federal changes occurring that provide an opening for us to advocate for and secure State level changes that will allow more eligible families in Los Angeles County to enroll and access critically needed funds that can lift them out of deep poverty.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

Through this project, Western Center will work to increase the number of families enrolled in CalWorks' Home Visitation Program (HVP) in LA County and California by 20% and will work to secure an additional 9% increase in CalWORKs cash grants, building upon the 21% increase secured last year. Our objective is to increase the total number of families served by CalWORKS HVP by 20% over 3 years, resulting in an additional 320 LA County families and between 1,200 and 2,000 statewide. We will continue our work with LA County community colleges, training over 300 personnel a year on Title XI protections for pregnant, parenting, and lactating students with low incomes. These trainings have identified that most community colleges have not implemented Title IX policies to protect pregnant, parenting, and lactating students from discrimination, nor have colleges developed policies and procedures to provide accommodations to pregnant, parenting and lactating students. As a result, Western Center will be working to add an exemption and/or good cause for pregnant, parenting, and lactating CalWORKs participants who have to drop a class or do not make satisfactory progress in a college class because of discrimination and/or a lack of accommodations. We will expand our outreach to community college students on the increased financial incentive to now participation in CalWORKs HVP, encouraging students with low incomes to access the full range of resources available to their families.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

We will consider our work successful and Los Angeles County transformed if we: - Restore as much as possible of the $30 million in funding for the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Home Visitation Program that was cut during the pandemic; - Move CalWORKs from a compliance orientation to a more holistic consideration of the needs of families, providing more voices and more choices for families; - Remove program barriers for participants such as short enrollment windows, limited visiting hours, and difficulty accessing outside referral services; - Increase by 20% the number of Los Angeles-based and Californian/state-wide parents enrolled in the HV program by 2025; - Expand workforce capacity to support the 20% increase in enrolled families; and, - Improve the physical and mental wellbeing of parents and kids and build economic self-sufficiency for families.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Transforming CalWORKs to better meet the needs of families in LA County and across the State has been at the core of our public benefits work since CalWORKs' creation in 1998. Enrollment in the program is at a historic low due to archaic, racist rules and workforce requirements that make continued participation challenging. We are working to transform this structure at the State level with AB310, and at the local level, we are working to increase enrollment by educating college students, 20% of who are parents, as well as Title XI administrators on the protections available for CalWORKs participants to support their continued education and ultimately, financial success. We measure our impact by the number of Black families enrolling in CalWorks HVP and the system changes secured by our advocacy - ex. in June 2022, we secured the largest (21%) increase in CalWORKs' cash assistance grants and in July 2022, we secured an CalWORKs HVP enrollment incentive increase from $500 to $1,000.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 1,000,000

Indirect Impact: 7,000,000