The California Partnership


Action Alerts:

Help CalWORKs Families Get More Education - Support the Education WORKS Bill SB 1639

A coalition of groups across the state, including the California Partnership, are sponsoring state legislation to better the lives of low-income families. SB 1639 (Alarcon) promotes education within the CalWORKs program to ensure CalWORKs participants receive assessment and preparation that will better allow them to reach economic self-sufficiency. In order to get this passed, we will need an outpouring of community support. Your organization can help by writing a letter of support. The letter can be very brief. In fact, it can simply say "Our organization support SB 1639." We have provided more information if you choose to include it and to educate your constituency. Also, feel free to add information specific to your organization and the people with whom you work.

Please write and send this letter today. Remember to put it on your organization's letterhead. A copy should be sent to the Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, and other members if you are in their districts or have special relationships with them. A list of committee members is below.

The address for the committee is:

Senate Health and Human Services Committee
StateCapitol, Room 2191
Sacramento, CA 95814.

Please send a copy to us as well so we can keep track of the support. You can email them to [email protected] or mail them to

201A Virginia Ave,
San Francisco, CA 94110

or fax them to 309-403-5521

Thank you so much for help and support.

Committee Members:

Senator Deborah Ortiz (Chair)
Senator Samuel Aanestad (Vice-Chair)
Senator Richard Alarcon
Senator Roy Ashburn
Senator Jim Battin
Senator Wesley Chesbro
Senator Martha Escutia
Senator Liz Figueroa
Senator Dean Florez
Senator Sheila Kuehl
Senator Gloria Romero
Senator John Vasconcellos
Senator Edward Vincent

More Information on SB 1639
CalWORKs was intended to help low-income families become independent, but the implementation has fallen short in several areas:

  • CalWORKs participants are not given enough information about training activities that they can pursue on their own initiative or about financial aid that may be available outside the CalWORKs program;
  • Adults working in the low-wage retail and service sectors are not assessed to determine what additional training they need in order to pursue a career that will enable them to become self-sufficient;
  • There are insufficient programs to provide adults with Limited English Proficiency the level of training necessary to gain the fluency level required for family-sustaining employment, resulting in large percentages of LEP CalWORKs participants timing out of their benefits;
  • For those going to school part-time, trying to get a college degree, or learning English, CalWORKs' 18 month training clock can be too limiting; and
  • College financial aid calculations do not take into account the expenses associated with being a single parent.

In the absence of quality education and training opportunities, parents are led into unskilled, low-paying jobs that offer little hope for advancement and little chance for economic stability. S.B. 1639 seeks to address these issues.

1. S.B. 1639 mandates CalWORKs participants be informed about training opportunities.

2. S.B. 1639 requires that counties assess all participants to guarantee that they are moving towards economic self-sufficiency.

3. S.B. 1639 asks Community Colleges to consider adding highly effective English Immersion programs, Functional Context English and Vocational ESL.

4. S.B. 1639 extends the clock for educational programs that require more than 18 months to complete.

5. S.B. 1639 makes college possible for CalWORKs parents by expanding financial aid for low-income parents.

Nancy Berlin
Coordinator, Welfare Reform Advocacy Project
Los Angeles Coalition to End Hunger & Homelessness
[email protected]
(213)439-1070 x111

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