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Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN)

When you participate in Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) you can receive employment-related services to help you find a job, stay employed, and move on to higher paying jobs. Services include Job Club, Vocational Assessment, Education and Training, Subsidized Employment, Community Services, and Post-Employment Services. We will also help you with transportation, child care, and special job-related expenses, such as uniforms and tools. We can also connect you to domestic violence counseling, substance use disorder treatment, and mental health services.

Toll-Free Customer Service Number

(877) 292-GAIN (4246)

8:00 am. to 5:00 p.m. (Monday to Friday)

Basic Eligibility
  • If you receive CalWORKs, your participation in GAIN is required, unless you meet the criteria to be exempt.

  • If you are exempt, you can still volunteer to participate in GAIN.  As a volunteer you will have to follow the same rules as a required customer. 
Appraisal

At the appointment, we will gather information about you to determine how we can help you. Soon after you are approved for CalWORKs, you will be scheduled to attend an appraisal appointment to go over what you need to succeed at meeting your employment related goals.  This will also be your opportunity to let us know about any challenges you are currently facing so that we can give you the necessary help to succeed.

Job Club
Diverse students attending Job Club in a classroom setting.

Your new job starts with Job Club. We will provide you with the tools and skills you need to find a job.  Job Club is staffed with experts ready to help you with excellent job search advice.  We will provide you access to a computer and will offer resume-building, employment application and mock interview workshops, motivational sessions, and introduction to potential employers.  Our experts have helped thousands of people just like you secure a job and great careers too! 

Vocational Assessment

Vocational Assessment is an activity you will be referred to when you don’t obtain full-time employment through Job Club.  It is a one-day activity that will help you identify job interests and vocational employment goals.  You will receive information about how to qualify for the jobs in your areas of interest and the jobs available in that profession. 

Welfare-to-Work Plan

After your Vocational Assessment, you and your GAIN Services Worker will develop a Welfare-to-Work Plan.  This is a list of all the GAIN activities you agree to complete, based on your goals.  The plan also includes supportive services such as transportation, child care, and other benefits to help you attend these activities.

Welfare-to-Work activities include employment, job search, assessments, education and training, community service, substance use disorder treatment, mental health services, domestic violence counseling and many others.

Welfare-to-Work 24-Month Time Clock

You have two years, known as the Welfare-to-Work 24-Month Clock, to participate in all that GAIN has to offer you.  You will have more choices of activities to participate in during your Welfare-to-Work, including: counseling, treatment, education, and others.

After two years in Welfare-to-Work, you will have a shorter list of activities to choose to participate in to continue to receive the same amount of cash aid.  Your GAIN Services Worker will explain more about this shorter list to you before your two years is completed. 

You will also receive a notice before you reach the end of your two years letting you know how you may qualify for an extension and what steps you will need to take next.

After two years, if you do not meet your new participation requirements, your cash aid may be reduced. 

Specialized Supportive Services

Once you enroll in CalWORKs and meet the welfare-to-work requirements, you may receive Domestic Violence services, treatment for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder, and other supportive services if needed.

Post-Employment Services

Finding a job is great, but if you’re starting an entry-level job, your wages may still be too low to eliminate your need for CalWORKs benefits.  Post-Employment Services provides you with supportive services and activities to help you keep your current job or find a better paying job so that you no longer need CalWORKs benefits.

Apply On-Line with Your Benefits Now

The easiest and quickest way is to apply for CalWORKs online at Your Benefits Now.


Apply by Telephone for CalFresh and Medi-Cal
You can apply by phone. Call the Customer Service Center (CSC) (866) 613-3777 to have an application mailed to you.

Apply In Person
You can apply In person at any Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) District Office or outreach site.
Paid Work Experience
Woman, wearing a safetly vest, working at a job site.

Paid Work Experience is temporary subsidized employment.  Our goal is to help you gain current Paid Work Experience and learn new skills to help you get a permanent job.  We can help pay for work items, transportation, and child care. 

Education/Training Program
Students in a computer lab.

Educational and training opportunities are available to help you build on your existing skills and prepare you for a specific job that interests you.  You may be assigned to an education or training program at an adult school or community college to earn a degree or certificate in a specific program.

You can also receive help with earning a high school diploma or a high school equivalency, such as General Educational Development (GED) and/or adult basic education courses, such as remedial instruction in reading and math, and English as a Second Language.

We can help pay for books, supplies, transportation, and child care costs.

Post-Time Limit Services

Am I eligible for GAIN once I reach my CalWORKs 48-Month Time Limit?

You may continue to participate in GAIN through Post-Time Limit services for up to 3 months from when you reach your 48 months if you are still receiving cash aid for at least one child. You will not be eligible for cash aid for yourself, but can get help with transportation, books, clothing, and child care to attend your GAIN activity.

Good Cause/Exemptions

What if I can’t participate in the GAIN program?

If you have a situation that stops you from working or participating in GAIN, you can ask to be excused by requesting good cause or an exemption. You may need to provide proof, such as a doctor’s note.

Remember, you have a limited time to participate in GAIN. The time you are in good cause or exempt for certain reasons count toward your 48-Month Time Limit. If you are exempt, you can still volunteer in GAIN. 

Cal-Learn Program

Are you, or someone in your household a teen who is pregnant or parenting? Did you know that the Cal-Learn Program can give your family additional money and services to help earn a High School Diploma?  Each year many teens complete their high school education through this program and move on to higher education, vocational school, and/or work.  These all lead to independence and a better life for you and your family.