CalWORKs program helps students in need

Ernesto Lopez

The new L building has also become the new home for CalWORKs and the New Horizons programs; two separate entities that help underprivileged students to succeed at life and at City.

CalWORKs is the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program. It provides cash aid, employment services and other benefits to parents that have children under 18 living in their home and are on public assistance.

To qualify for cash aid, the recipient must participate in the welfare to work program which requires 32 hours a week of work activity; it can include full or part time work, volunteering or educational training.

When a cash aid recipient decides to get educational training, they can come to City’s CalWORKs to get started on an individual training and course work plan. CalWORKs then pays for required textbooks, day care for their children and for transportation.

Upon signing up with City’s CalWORKs students are paired with a counselor to assist in helping the student meet all their welfare to work requirements. The counselor also serves as a motivational tool for the students when they feel discouraged.

“All students here have all the reasons not to make it, but they also have all the reasons to make it,” Bernice Lorenzo, counselor and CalWORKs coordinator, said. “It’s not easy; they come in saying ‘I can’t do it,” we say ‘yes you can.'”

“The counseling.are always here. If I need anything they are here to help,” Jacqueline Castillo, CalWORKs student, said. “I go to them for advice and how to succeed in school. It’s not about being on welfare, but about you and what you are doing to better yourself.”

In the same office, L-206, the New Horizons Program helps eligible students become successful in the classroom by providing study skills booklets and loaning out textbooks. The program also offers career development trainings, public transportation passes and referrals to other community resources.

To qualify for the program, a student must be a single parent or single pregnant woman, displaced homemaker, individual with disabilities, a former foster youth, a student preparing for non-traditional training or a remedial English student.

Students interested in New Horizons must be enrolled in Career/Technical education and be eligible for the Board of Governors’ Waiver (BOGW).

The Board of Governors’ Waiver is a financial need based program that covers enrollments fees.

“New Horizons helps students overcome barriers that may prevent them from being successful at school,” said Mary Jane Kruse, adjunct instructor with the New Horizons Program. “My door is always open; students can come in at any time to share successes, challenges or whatever.”

Kruse reports that 83 percent of students receiving New Horizons study skills training said that their study skills have improved.

Before moving to the L building, the CalWORKs Program and New Horizons Program were located in the A building.

“Our previous room was tight and it was hard to serve all of our students. In our new building, there is room to stretch out,” Lorenzo said.

“This is great; nice office, nice big lobby for students,” Kruse added.