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The GAIN program provides employment-related services to CalWORKs participants to help them find employment, stay employed, 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 are subject to the same requirements as mandatory participants.


  • Starting January 1, 2013, there are new rules that give participants more 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. More info…


  • 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 60-month time limit for most adults.
  • The 60-month time clock starts as soon as the participant’s aid is approved.

  • The 60-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:

§ 01 – Youth under age 16

§ 02 – Youth age 16 through 17, full-time student

§ 04 – Age 60 or older

§ 05 – Incapacity

§ 06 -18 year old child in school full-time (non-parent)

§ 07 – Provides continuous care for an ill household member

§ 14 – 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

4. The participant is a victim of domestic violence and time limits have been waived

  • GAIN participants can participate in any allowable GAIN activity for the duration of their 60-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 which for some months on cash aid do not count toward the 60-month time limit. These circumstances are known as “Time Limit Exemptions, Extenders and Clock-Stoppers.


On January 1, 2003, the first group of adults aided continuously since January 1, 1998 began reaching their 60-month time limit for CalWORKs. After exhausting the 60-month clock, the adult participant is deleted from the CalWORKs Assistance Unit (AU). This is referred to as “timed-off.” Absent clock-stoppers, extenders, or exemptions, these participants are ineligible for the GAIN program. In order to assist timed-off participants to complete existing activities, as well as continue accessing services needed to achieve self-sufficiency; DPSS opted to provide Post-Time Limit (PTL) services as a regular component of the GAIN flow.

  • Timed-off participants are limited to 12 months of PTL eligibility for Job Retention (JR) services, such as transportation and work-related ancillaries starting from the date the participant was deleted 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 32 hours per week to meet minimum weekly participation requirements.
  • Unless the participant is employed full-time, Community Services participation, referred to as Job Intern (JI), for a minimum 32 hours per month is a State requirement for accessing PTL services.

Note: The minimum 32 hours per month JI participation requirement is in addition to other approved PTL activities.

  • Timed-off participants employed at least 32/35 hours “(one-parent/two-parent households)” per week are eligible for JR with no JI requirement connected to the receipt of these services.


After registration, participants are scheduled to attend a one-day orientation and appraisal process which includes:

Motivational Training

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 motivational training even when they request to be exempted or excused from participation, unless they self-declare to having asubstance abuse, mental health or domestic violence problem, or they are in SIP, or employed and cannot miss school to attend a full-day motivational program.

Fact Gathering Interview

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

a. If the participant qualifies for exemption;

b. If the participant is enrolled in a Self-Initiated Program;

c. Identify the preliminary employment goal through the individual’s work, education, and welfare history;

d. If the participant has a need for supportive services that may be a barrier to employment;

e. If the participant needs clinical assessment or Domestic Violence Services;

f. If the participant has a potential Learning Disability; and

g. Should the participant be designated as a “dual track” candidate.


A SIP is a program in which a CalWORKs participant was enrolled in a vocational education/training program, prior to his/her GAIN Orientation/Appraisal appointment date. The participant may continue in the program as a WtW activity, when 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 20/30/35 hours per week) or be required to participate concurrently in Job Search activity or another WtW 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:

2012-2013 List of Approved Education/Training Programs


Once all the initial activities have been negotiated by the participant and the GSW, the participant is referred to the appropriate WtW activity and provided with the appropriate supportive services.


The Learning Disability (LD) program improves services to GAIN participants who may have hidden disabilities that prevent him/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 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 Readiness & Career Planning Services Program, known as Enhanced Job Club/Vocational Assessment Program (EJC/VA). 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.

EJC/VA consists of a one-week job preparation and planning seminar to develop a career goal plan as an employment guide, a three-week Job Search activity.

During the second week of EJC/VA, job search is focused on targeted jobs with a living wage. Job search in the third week is focused on targeted occupations that have documented potential for growth that will lead to a living wage. The fourth week is concentrated on identifying and enrolling participants in an educational/training activity to be combined with part-time employment.

The EJC/VA 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.

Enhanced Job Club services include job-finding skills workshops and closely supervised job search. 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 during or after the Friday of the 3rd week of Job Club services, he/she will be referred directly to vocational assessment before assignment to any other GAIN activity.

The participant’s employment plan will be developed by the assessor and the GAIN participant using the participant’s existing educational level, employment experience, employment goals, and vocational assessment test results. The employment plan will specify the employment goal to be attained under the program, as well as the service(s) needed to achieve the employment goal including counseling/treatment services to remove barriers caused by mental health, substance abuse, or domestic violence problems.


The Welfare-to-Work (WtW) plan is developed by the GSW and the participant using the vocational assessment employment plan and/or any clinical assessment. This WtW plan may include Job Search services, work experience, education/training, job skills training directly related to employment, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and/or domestic violence treatment.

All non-exempt participants are required to sign their initial WtW plan within 90 calendar days of their determination 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 (e.g., when a GN 6051, verification of GAIN Exemption, is being completed), and third-party assessments.


Job Search services are for those participants who have completed a four to five-week Enhanced Job
Club/Vocational Assessment Program and WtW plan without obtaining employment. Job Search services
are similar to those services provided during the second and third week of job club. See LA LINK


Work Experience (WEX) activity is a work assignment in which a participant receives non-salaried experience in a public or private nonprofit agency. Work experience assignments provide training in appropriate work behavior skills, the acquisition of new skills, the enhancement of existing skills or recently acquired skills and employment references to use when seeking salaried employment.


Paid Work Experience (PWE) is subsidized employment offered to participants enrolled in WtW programs presented by the Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), One-Stop Centers and Department of Labor (DOL) WtW grantees. This activity provides occupational training to enable the participant to learn a skill and to qualify for an occupation through demonstration of abilities and practices.


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.


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.


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 abuse. Further information related to these supportive services can be found under Specialized Supportive Services. See 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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