CalWORKS Program

CalWORKS logo

Are you a parent with children under the age of 18 receiving public assistance? In partnership with Santa County Social Services Agency, West Valley College can help you toward self-sufficiency with education and training.

Through the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids Program (CalWORKs) at West Valley, you can earn a vocational certificate or degree or simply take classes toward an employment goal while balancing work, family, and school obligations. With West Valley's support, you will have access to the resources you need to be successful in school so you can support yourself and your family.

Am I Eligible?

If you are receiving public assistance and are enrolled, or are planning to enroll, at West Valley College, then you may be eligible. West Valley College does not determine your eligibility. Instead, that is handled by your Santa Clara County Social Services Agency caseworker, who will send a referral to our CalWORKS office.

Santa Clara County Social Services Agency Application Options

  • By Phone: 1-877-962-3633
  • In-Person at the following locations:
    • Assistance Application Center
      1867 Senter Road
      San Jose, CA 95112
    • General Assistance Services
      1919 Senter Road
      San Jose, CA 95112
    • North County
      1330 W. Middlefield Road
      Mountain View, CA 94043
    • Medi-Cal Benefits Assistance
      650 South Bascom, Suite A
      San Jose, CA 95128
    • South County
      379 Tomkins Court
      Gilroy, CA 95020
  • Online at MyBenefits CalWIN
  • Download the mobile app: My Benefits CalWIN

How Does It Work?

Once you have received a CalWORKs referral, make an appointment with the CalWORKs coordinator, Marta Mora-Evans. Together, you will develop a plan that addresses both short-term and long-term educational and employment goals to determine which services West Valley can provide to help you meet those needs. Throughout your time at West Valley, you will have our CalWORKs coordinator/academic counselor provide encouragement and guidance.


  • Academic and career counseling
  • Support group and workshops
  • Assistance with financial aid applications and priority registration
  • Basic skills assessment/multiple measures
  • Tutoring assistance and peer advising
  • Free, convenient child care on campus or near your home
  • Funds for books and supplies
  • Bus passes or gas money
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Career coaching, resumes, interview and job search strategies
  • Work-study opportunities
  • Food resources to stretch your budget

Frequently Asked Questions

What is CWES?

CalWORKs stands for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids. In Santa Clara County, CalWORKs is divided into two parts:

  • Cash Aid Benefits
  • CalWORKs Employment Services (CWES)

Once approved for cash and benefits, most individuals will be required to participate in approved CWES Welfare-to-Work (WTW) activities as a condition to continue receiving cash aid.

What are approved CWES WTW activities?

The purpose of CWES is to help you prepare for work and find employment. This can possibly include activities such as employment, job search, work experience, and educational/vocational training.

What if I am working or attending school/training?

Work is the considered the primary goal of CWES and is an approved WTW activity. Time spent attending school or vocational training may qualify as an approved activity as well.

Who has to participate with CWES?

Most CalWORKs recipients will be required to participate in an approved WTW activity or combination of activities as a condition of receiving cash aid, unless exempt from program requirements. WTW Activities are divided into core and non-core hours. Participation in core hours will determine if your activities are time-limited to 24 months of participation. As long as you meet the weekly core hours, you may participate in non-core hours. Individuals are required to participate as follows:

  • One parent households with a child under 6 years old must participate 20 hours per week.
  • One parent households with no children under 6 years old must participate 30 hours per week.
  • Two parent households must participate 35 hours per week between both parents.

What happens if I am not able to participate?

Individuals who are unable to participate in approved CWES activities due to issues such as health/medical reasons, family or personal crisis, legal/court obligations may be excused or exempted from participation requirements. Also, temporary exemptions may be granted due to other reasons.

Can I still participate with CWES even if I am exempted?

Yes. Individuals who are exempted from participating are encouraged to take part in CWES as volunteer participants.

Are there time limits?

CalWORKs was designed to offer temporary cash assistance to qualified adult individuals. As of July 1, 2011, all new and existing CalWORKs recipients are limited up to 48 months of cash aid in a lifetime. Participation in work-related activities will be required in order to maximize the Time on Aid (TOA).

Generally, each month in which an adult receives cash aid will count toward the 48-month time limit. Once the 48-month time clock is reached, the adult will no longer be eligible to receive cash aid benefits.

What types of services does CWES provide?

CalWORKs support services are provided to make it easier for individuals to participate in approved WTW activities. They include child care, transportation (bus pass and Jump Start Vehicle Repair Program), work or training related expenses, domestic abuse, drug/alcohol, mental health, and social worker assistance.

How soon are supportive services provided?

Once the cash aid benefits are provided, individuals may be eligible for WTW Employment Services.

last published: 12/18/18