Gov. Brown proposes big changes in CalWORKS
Like other states, California saw a precipitous decline in welfare cases after the 1996 federal overhaul. California's caseload dropped from 921,000 cases in 1994-95 to 587,400 cases in the current fiscal year, according to state data.
California houses 33 percent of the nation's recipients with only 12 percent of the overall U.S. population.
It is one of seven states that continue paying families who have exhausted their time on the state's welfare-to-work program or cannot meet work requirements. More than half of CalWORKs cases – 304,100 – fall into this category. Besides families who have reached time limits, this group includes children whose parents or caregivers cannot qualify for CalWORKs, such as undocumented immigrants or disabled parents receiving other public aid.
Brown proposed eliminating this portion of the program last year, but Democrats rebuffed him, saying it would penalize children for the actions of their parents.
The cross-state comparisons aren't perfect, said Caroline Danielson, a policy fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California. She said that while California relies heavily on CalWORKs to serve its poorest residents, other states provide similar aid in programs that lack the political stigma of welfare and don't show up in federal data.