Welfare to Work


Persons applying for assistance on or after April 1, 1998 are eligible to receive GAIN services after signing a WTW plan. WTW activities include employment, job search, assessment, education and training, community service, substance use disorder treatment, mental health services and domestic violence counseling.

GAIN Policy: DPSS ePolicy

LA GAIN provides employment-related services to CalWORKs recipients to help them find employment, stay employed, and move on to higher paying jobs, which will ultimately lead them to self-sufficiency and independence. WTW activities must be a minimum of 20 or 30 hours per week for single parents, depending on the age of the children. Two parent families must participate 35 hours per week. Persons who meet the following conditions are exempt from work requirements:

  • An individual under 16 years of age.
  • An individual 16, 17, or 18 years of age attending an elementary, secondary, or vocational school full-time.
  • Parent or caretaker age 60 and older.
  • Participant who is disabled or has a medical excuse.
  • Individual caring for ill or incapacitated household member.
  • Parent or caretaker of a child 12 months of age and under.
  • Pregnant woman whose condition prevents her ability to participate in WtW activities.
  • Individual is a full-time volunteer in the Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) Program.
  • Parent or caretaker of a child 6 months of age and under.
  • Non-parent relative caring for a child who is a dependent or ward of the court or at risk of being placed in foster care.
  • A custodial parent who is 19 years of age or under and is a Cal-Learn participant.
  • Caretaker relative who is not the parent and is not aided.
  • Parent or caretaker who is personally providing care to a child from birth to 23 months. This individual may be exempt only once for this criteria.
  • Individuals with a Domestic Violence Waiver.

Sanctions and Penalties

When participants fail to meet the Welfare-to-Work requirements, they will face penalties and/or possible sanctions. Financial sanctions can be imposed if a participant fails or refuses to comply with a CalWORKs requirement, to agree to a welfare-to-work plan, show proof of satisfactory progress in an agreed upon activity, or quit or refuse a job without a good reason for doing so. If efforts at conciliation are unsuccessful, one or both parents can excluded from the assistance budget for a specified time.

  • A sanction continues until the participant participates.
  • Exempt individuals who volunteer are not subject to financial sanctions, but are excluded from participating until they agree to participate.
  • Participants may cure their sanction by contacting the GAIN office.


Good Cause

The following are considered good cause for a participant's failure or refusal to meet welfare-to-work program requirements:

  • Homelessness.
  • The participant is temporarily ill (less than 30 days), or temporarily caring for a sick family member.
  • A breakdown or interruption in child care occurs.
  • Severe family crisis/death in family.
  • Court appearances/legal difficulties.
  • The participant is a victim of domestic violence.
  • The physical mental disability or the substance use disorder problem impairs participation.


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CalWORKs Factsheet


CalFresh Factsheet


CalWORKs Youth@Work Flyer

CalWORKs Youth@Work Program Questions & Answers