A program designed to create 10,000 temporary jobs across Los Angles County using President Obama’s stimulus funding is now at risk because of a State proposal to eliminate the CalWORKs welfare program.
On March 3, Supervisor Don Knabe introduced the program, which would utilize over $159 million in federal stimulus funding to create temporary subsidized employment opportunities for CalWORKs welfare recipients in County departments, private sector employers, non-profit organizations, and in cities across Los Angeles County.
CalWORKs is a welfare-to-work program that uses federal funding to provide temporary financial assistance and employment focused services to families. Most parents are also required to participate in employment services programs with the goal of finding work and getting off welfare permanently. The 10-thousand jobs effort is an expansion of this program. This portion of stimulus dollars must be used towards benefitting welfare recipients – so the goal of the 10,000 jobs program is to use it to create thousands of job opportunities – lifting people off of the welfare rolls and from being a burden on taxpayers – and putting them into temporary jobs that may lead to permanent employment.
The program is now in jeopardy, because when State leaders proposed ending CalWORKs last week, it threatened the cutoff of federal funding for welfare coming to California, including the $159 million in stimulus funding needed to make this program a reality.
There is a limited timeframe for when this federal funding is available, so we have no time to waste to make sure our unemployed residents can benefit from the thousands of jobs we can create with these funds. Our local unemployment rate is hovering around 11-percent and we have a major opportunity to do something about it, said Supervisor Knabe. This program is a win-win situation, and we intend to make the most of it. The problem is that Sacramento is once again about to screw up a good thing. If the threat of cutting CalWORKs continues, it jeopardizes these 10-thousand jobs and all the other "work" in welfare-to-work. Washington has the money, and Los Angeles County has the means. It’s time to make the 10,000 jobs initiative a reality.
Under the program and the rules of the federal funding, 80-percent of the cost of a subsidized worker will be covered by federal funds, and the employer will only be responsible for 20-percent of the overall cost. The 20-percent can be further reduced by an employer’s supervision and training costs. Even though the jobs can be anywhere in the County, the South Bay Workforce Investment Board acts as the employer of record. They perform payroll functions, pre-screen candidates, and absorb Workers Compensation liability. All sectors are being targeted, the public sector – including County departments and other public agencies, nonprofits (including community and faith-based organizations) and the private sector. A chief requirement for all employers wishing to participate is that subsidized workers cannot displace existing employees.
Two resources are available for employers looking to hire workers or welfare recipients looking for a job. The first is the County’s telephone hotline, 211. The second is a dedicated website, www.employmentstimulus.org