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Welfare To Work Checks Reduced, Starting Today

Beginning today, families in California's Welfare to Work program will see an 8 percent reduction in their monthly benefit checks. It's the result of cuts proposed in March and approved as part of the final state budget signed this week.

In San Diego County 85,000 families are enrolled in Cal Works, the Welfare to Work program. It’s for families with children and provides small monthly checks, job training and subsidized childcare.

A family of three in the Cal Works program got almost $700 a month – that’s if they were in job training, or have found a job that pays well below the poverty level. Starting today, their checks will shrink to a maximum of about $640 a month.

Jean Ross is with the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that seeks fiscal reforms to benefit low- and moderate-income Californians. She said this cut will likely affect landlords, too.

“For most families their cash assistance payment goes to pay the rent,” Ross said. “And if their grant is cut, they can’t go to the landlord and say, 'I’m only going to send you so much this month.' Families could be in danger of homelessness as a result of this change.”

Ross said the cuts erode the social compact of welfare reform in the mid 1990s, which promised aid as long as recipients are training to get a job.

The final budget also means roughly 25,000 children statewide will no longer get subsidized childcare.

Plus, the lifetime limit on welfare to work benefits is now four years, not five, leaving some families with no job and no safety net to help make ends meet.

Michael Weston, of the state Department of Social Services, said almost half-a-billion dollars of the $15 billion in cuts to balance the state budget come from cuts to the social safety net for low-income families.

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