The GAIN program provides employment-related services to CalWORKs participants to help them find a job, keep their job, and move on to higher paying jobs, which will lead to self-sufficiency and independence.


  • Participation in GAIN is mandatory for all CalWORKs participants unless exempt. Exemptions require documentation, verification, and approval of GAIN Services Workers.
  • Exempt participants may volunteer to participate in GAIN. Once exempt participants volunteer to enter GAIN, they must meet the same requirements as mandatory participants.


  • Since January 1, 2013, there are new rules that give participants 24 months of more flexible Welfare-to-Work (WTW) activity options and require fewer participation hours for single-adult families. A general informing notice went out to all GAIN participants at the end of November 2012. 
  • Participants who tell us that they are having many problems making it difficult to participate in GAIN may ask for Family Stabilization Services to help them with those problems.


  • With the passage of Welfare Reform in 1996, and the later implementation of California’s CalWORKs Program in January 1998, the receipt of cash assistance in California became subject to a 48-month time limit for most adults.
  • The 48-month time clock starts as soon as the participant's aid is approved.
  • The 48-month time limit will not be counted when:
    1. The participant's aid has been terminated.
    2. The participant is sanctioned and did not get cash aid.
    3. The participant is exempt with the following codes/reasons:
        • 01 – participant is a youth under age 16
        • 02 – participant is a youth age 16 through 17 and is a full-time student
        • 04 – participant is age 60 or older
        • 05 – participant is disabled/incapacitated
        • 06 –participant is a 18 year old child in school full-time and is not  parenting
        • 07 – participant is providing continuous care for an ill household member
        • 14 – participant is a non-parent relative caring for a child who is a dependent or a ward of the court or at risk of being placed in foster care
    1. The participant is a victim of domestic violence and time limits have been waived
  • GAIN participants can participate in an allowable GAIN activity for the duration of their 48-month time limit, as long as they meet the WtW participation requirements.
  • In evaluating an adult's time on aid, an allowance must be made for specific circumstances in which some months on cash aid do not count toward the 48-month time limit.  These circumstances are known as “Time Limit Exemptions, Extenders and Clock-Stoppers.


After exhausting the 48-month clock, the adult participant is removed from the CalWORKs Assistance Unit (AU). This is referred to as “timed-off.” Without any clock-stoppers, extenders, or exemptions, these timed-off participants are no longer eligible for the GAIN program. In order to help timed-off participants complete their existing activities, as well as continue accessing services needed to achieve self-sufficiency; DPSS chose to provide Post-Time Limit (PTL) services as a regular component of the GAIN flow.

  • Timed-off participants are limited to 3 months of PTL eligibility for Job Retention (JR) services, such as transportation and work-related expenses (called ancillaries) starting from the date the participant was removed from the AU.
  • Timed-off participants who volunteer for GAIN program services are subject to the same requirements as other exempt participants.
  • Participants who have timed off CalWORKs may receive supportive services for their part-time employment, if enrolled in concurrent GAIN activities for a minimum 30 hours per week to meet minimum weekly participation requirements.
  • Unless the participant is working full-time, participants must do a community services activity, referred to as Job Intern (JI), for a minimum 30 hours per month to meet State requirements for PTL services.

Note: The minimum 30 hours per month JI activity requirement is in addition to other  approved PTL activities.

  • Timed-off participants employed at least 20/30/35 hours “(one-parent/two-parent households)” per week are can receive JR services with no JI requirement to receive these services.



After registration into the GAIN program, participants are scheduled to attend an appraisal appointment.  The purpose of the appraisal appointment is for the GAIN Services Worker to do a fact gathering interview and to help identify barriers to employment.

Fact Gathering Interview

The GSW conducts an interview with the participant to determine the following:

  1. If the participant qualifies for exemption;
  2. If the participant is already participating in a Self-Initiated Program (education/training);
  3. Identify the preliminary employment goal through the individual's work, education, and welfare history;
  4. If the participant has a need for supportive services that may be a barrier to employment;
  5. If the participant needs clinical assessment or Domestic Violence Services;
  6. If the participant has a potential Learning Disability; and
  7. Should the participant be designated as a “dual track” candidate.

In 2015, the State of California implemented the Online California Appraisal Tool (OCAT) that is used during the GAIN Appraisal activity. OCAT helps to further identify the need for specialized services to remove barriers to employment and/or Welfare-to-Work participation.


The purpose of motivational training is to raise participant's self-esteem, identify existing transferable work-related skills, learn the ways it pays to work, and gain the confidence to perform in the local labor market.  Mandatory participants are to attend a one-day GAIN Orientation and motivational training, unless they self-declare to having a substance use disorder, mental health or domestic violence problem, or they are in Self-Initiated Program or are currently employed and cannot miss school to attend a full-day motivational program.



A SIP is a program in which a CalWORKs participant was enrolled in a vocational education/training program prior to his/her initial GAIN Appraisal appointment date. The participant may continue in the school program as a GAIN activity, if the program is for an undergraduate degree or certificate program that leads to employment or a post-baccalaureate degree program for a California teaching credential and the participant is making satisfactory progress.

The participant must be participating in the SIP and/or related activities such as lab and work-study (for a combined total of 20, 30, or 35 hours per week, depending upon the household composition) or be required to also participate a Job Search activity or other GAIN  activity to meet the weekly participation requirement.  

To be an approvable SIP, the education/training program must be listed in the Los Angeles County's List of Approved Self-Initiated Programs Education/Training Programs.


Once all the initial activities have been negotiated by the participant and the GAIN Services Worker, the participant is referred to the appropriate GAIN activity and provided with the appropriate supportive services (transportation, child care, and books/tools expenses).


The Learning Disability (LD) program improves services to GAIN participants who may have hidden disabilities that prevent him or her from obtaining and/or retaining a job. The program offers a screening for LD, and LD evaluation, and reasonable accommodations to assist the participant with their participation in GAIN activities. Participants with a verified LD will be provided with written documentation of accommodations needed to perform effectively in the classroom and/or on the job competitively, with classmates and/or coworkers.


The Los Angeles County GAIN Program provides a four-week Job Club and Orientation (JCO). This assists participants with job preparation and/or enrollment in an educational/training program with the ultimate goal of obtaining, securing, and/or promoting, to employment at a living wage.

JCO begins with an orientation of the three-week job club process, and the participant learns about work behaviors and attitudes, employer expectations, participation, dress codes, earnings disregards, and the working parents budget, goal setting progress, etc. The participant also learns how to prepare an effective resume for job searches, and completes extensive interview preparation administered by Job Club staff.  These services are provided to GAIN participants by a contracted services provider at different locations throughout Los Angeles County.


If the participant does not obtain full-time employment after three weeks of Job Search, he or she is referred directly to vocational assessment before the end of the 4th week of Job Search.  Vocational assessment is a one-day activity that will help participants identify job interests and employment goals. During vocational assessment, participants receive information about how to qualify for the jobs in their areas of interest and how many jobs are available in that profession.  Participants are tested in reading and math and discuss important issues that make it difficult to succeed in school or work.

After the tests and discussion with a vocational assessor, participants choose two employment goals, which your GAIN Services Worker can help you achieve.  This is done through a Welfare-to-Work Plan, which includes the activities that can help you achieve your goals.

Participants who disagree with the results of their vocational assessment, can request to have a second chance at the tests or have their test results reviewed by a different vocational assessor, which is called a “Third-Party Assessment”. 


The Welfare-to-Work (WTW) plan is developed by the GAIN Services Worker and the participant using results of the vocational assessment employment plan and/or any clinical assessment. This WTW plan may include education or training, subsidized employment, community service, job search, mental health services, substance use disorder assistance, domestic violence treatment, or Family Stabilization. 

All non-exempt participants are required to sign their initial WTW plan within 90 calendar days of their approval of eligibility for CalWORKs cash aid. The 90 days also applies to participants with expiring exemptions.

The 90-day period to develop a WTW plan includes time participating in learning disability screenings, medical evaluations (for example, when a CW 61, Authorization to Release Medical Information is being completed), and third-party assessments.


Work Experience (WEX) and Community Services activities are unpaid work assignments in which a participant receives experience in public or private nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations or community-based organizations. Work Experience and Community Service assignments provide training in appropriate work behavior skills, build new skills, the enhance existing skills or recently acquired skills and provides employment references for participants to use when seeking regular employment.


Paid Work Experience (PWE) is subsidized employment offered to participants enrolled in WtW programs through the Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), One-Stop Centers. This activity provides occupational training to enable the participant to obtain work experience, learn new skills and qualify for a job through a demonstration of abilities and practices. 


Vocational Education/Training is assigned if the vocational assessment employment plan specifies that vocational education or training is needed to achieve the participants’ employment goal. The primary goal for assigning a participant to these services is to improve their existing skills or obtain new skills required to move the participant into full-time employment.


Job Skills Training Directly Related to Employment (JST) is a non-core GAIN activity which may be considered as a core activity, if it meets the following criteria:

  • The GSW/CCM has determined that the program will lead to self-supporting employment;
  • The participant is making satisfactory progress;
  • The participant does not have a baccalaureate degree (those who are pursuing a California teaching credential are exempted from this requirement); and
  • The program is on the County-approved list of programs that will lead to employment, or the participant demonstrates that completion of the program will lead to employment. If the program is not on the County-approved list, the participant must be given an opportunity to demonstrate that the completion of the program will lead to employment.


A new range of supportive services is now offered to participants identified as having a barrier to employment caused by problems with domestic violence, mental health and/or substance use disorder. Further information related to these supportive services can be found under Specialized Supportive Services. 



Most participants secure initial, entry-level jobs with wages too low to eliminate their need for welfare benefits.  Post-Employment Services are designed to help participants stay employed and attain a better job with sufficient wages to obtain self-sufficiency from CalWORKs dependency.

The goal is to provide participants with the information, resources, and tools to retain unsubsidized employment, improve career potential, and achieve economic self-sufficiency at a living wage prior to exhausting their time on aid.  To this end, an array of post-employment services is offered.


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