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The California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program is a public sector program that was created in 1997 in California to give money and services to eligible needy families. The CalWORKs program is available exclusively to “families that have a child(ren) in the home who has been deprived of parental support or care because of the absence, disability or death of either parent, families with a child(ren) when both parents are in the home but the principal earner is unemployed, and needy caretaker relatives of a foster children)” (California Department of Social Services, 2015).
This paper will attempt to evaluate is public sector program (CalWORKs) via the following sections: (1) the research question at hand, (2) a review of literature, (3) hypotheses, (4) research methods, and (5) a logic model. To begin with though, a brief summary of CalWORKs will be given.
CalWORKs has been an instrumental program available to Californians through CDSS. Though this program is administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), it is operated locally by the counties of California, 58 in total.
Each respective county is allocated a certain amount dollars per how many registered citizens they have in the county. Since 1997 when the public assistance program began, the funding has grown coincidently with the number of recipients as well this paper will address the research question at hand.
The first section to be addressed in this research paper is the research question at hand. For the purposes of this program evaluation the research question that will be used is: will the current model of the California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) CalWORKs program effectively solve the societal problems or does it just offer a temporary solution? With that being said, the review of literature will now be discussed.
Five research articles/reports that I have gathered and reviewed speak to the administration and program effectiveness of CDSS. The first article is titled “CalWORKS: Healthy Children and Families on the Road to Self-Sufficiency; Annual Summary, May 2015.” This article detailed how “the Department of Social Services [collaborates] … with legislative staff, the LAO, and key stakeholders on the creation of an annual report on CalWORKS, covering children living in poverty and deep poverty in the program, caseload dynamics, demographics of families, and impacts and implementation of recent policy changes, and other components to be decided in the course of those discussions” (California Department of Social Services). This report helped refine the research question by providing insight into how programs providing funding for families can greatly affect their lives and the magnitude that the program is in California. This report gave ideas on the specific subsidiary areas of the CDSS that should be evaluated more. The other benefits that reading this report gave was a better understanding of the CalWORKS program as well as the State’s purpose of providing the program and the funding sources that they have for it as well. The second research article that I chose to evaluate is “California Linkage State Prison-Child Welfare Data Study” by the California Department of Social Services. This article found that “28 percent of the inmates had a case and/or placement history prior to their incarceration; female inmates had a higher percentage of matched records in the CWS/CMS file than male inmates, and …that 27 percent of young adult prison inmates had experienced a foster care placement” (California Department of Social Services). This report helped to refine the research question by showing even more the effects of welfare within highly regulated societies, such as the prison system, thus showing how a more general approach would be more relevant to the majority. For giving ideas for new research questions, this report led me to ask the question of will those on welfare in their early life more likely than not end up in the prison system than those who aren’t on welfare. As for the benefits from reading this particular report, it gave better insight into how the State allocates personnel and resources specifically for the prison and welfare systems. A third report for this program evaluation is “Alternate Proposals for a New Family Home Rate Structure in California” by the CDSS that “proposes a new basic rate-setting methodology and four alternative rate structures for Foster Family Home (FFH) care in the state of California” (California Department of Social Services). This report helped refine the research question by showing how family structures are supported within the largest state and an emphasis on public assistance is necessary to achieve a more stable future for all Californians. In regards to new research questions, this report begs the question of is investing in home assistance for private businesses/corporations necessary in the current homelessness situation?
Other benefits of reading this article were that it provides thoughts on raising the minimum requirements for housing assistance and that there might be other alternatives to housing assistance for permanent solutions instead of temporary assistance. A fourth report that was found was the “2015-2019 Child and Family Services Plan” by CDSS. This report plans out the Department’s next five years for implementing “the state’s child welfare system and to ensure safety, permanency, and well-being for California’s children” (California Department of Social Services). This report refined the research question by outlining how the State proposes to move forward for the next five years with the providing for the needy in California with State subsidies and assistance programs. As for a new research question, this report should be evaluated to if the proposed plan will effectively solve the problems or if they are only temporary solutions until society deems that public assistance is more important to them than providing contracts for small businesses. The main benefit from reading this report was that it gave an in-depth look into the mindset and overall view on public assistance in California from the viewpoints of administrators. The last and fifth report that was found was the “Resource Family Recruitment, Training and Retention Annual Report; June 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007” by CDSS. In this report, it spoke to how 52 counties throughout California conducted recruitment, training and retention activities for resource families in SFY 2006/2007” (California Department of Social Services). This report helped refine the research question by giving background on previous efforts by the State of investing in training for the public assistance programs and begged the question as to when will CDSS perform another evaluation of the effectiveness of their training programs. As for giving a new research question, this particular report shows that the question of is the CDSS effectively providing training and performing retention efforts in its departments? In regards to other benefits for this report, it gives a useful insight into CDSS’s ability to recruit needy families into its assistance programs.
There are a number of hypotheses that can be developed from the research question at hand, will the current model of the California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) CalWORKs program effectively solve the societal problems or does it just offer a temporary solution? A first hypothesis that can be developed from the research question is: CalWORKs is more likely to solve the societal problems of California (e.g. homelessness, poverty, starvation, etc.) on a temporary basis than confront the problem on a permanent basis. This hypothesis takes a holistic approach to the mission and purpose of the public program and, as such, effectively characterizes the program into one statement that can be tested. The dependent variable for this hypothesis is a “permanent basis.” On the other side, the independent variables for this hypothesis are “societal problems” and “temporary basis.” A second hypothesis that can be developed from the research question is: CalWORKs is effectively dealing with the societal problems of California with its numerous public assistance programs. This hypothesis addresses all of the programs that the public program maintains and, in a general overall view, the way that they will or could benefit California. The dependent variable for this hypothesis is “societal problems.” On the other side, the independent variable for this hypothesis is the “public assistance programs.” A third and last hypothesis that can be developed from the research question is: CalWORKs will only continue to temporarily support the low-income residents of California with public support, not federal monetary assistance. The dependent variables for this hypothesis are the “public assistance programs” and “low-income residents.” On the other side, the independent variables for this hypothesis are the temporary support, public support, and monetary assistance. With all of that being said, hypotheses are an important component of any research or paper and should be evaluated primarily to determine how the research either supports or attacks the hypotheses at hand.
When researching an individual topic, it is important to, throughout the research process, identify the research methods that will be used as well as the logic model. This paper will take a look at the following areas to explain these research methods in my study: (1) the unit of analysis, (2) the population/sample, (3) the analytical methods present: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods, (4) operationalization of the variables, (5) why these research methods were selected, and (6) the logic model constructed. To begin with, the unit of analysis for my research topic will be discussed.
To understand the unit of analysis, the research question at hand must be mentioned, this being: will the current model of the California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) CalWORKs program effectively solve the societal problems or does it just offer a temporary solution? The unit of analysis, being the major entity that is being analyzed, present in this research question is CalWORKs. This entity, otherwise known as a public program of the state of California, is made of State workers from the CDSS that “is comprised of more than 4,200 employees who are responsible for the oversight and administration of programs serving California’s most vulnerable residents” [ CITATION Cal152 \I 1033 ). Having mentioned the unit of analysis for this research paper, the population/sample will be discussed.
The population, otherwise known as the sample, of a research paper is also an important aspect to be explored. This population referenced to is essentially defined as a collection of objects and individuals that are the main focus of the research question. In the research question presented, the population is the social problems” present in the society of California. These societal problems are inclusive of programs for those that face the citizens of California such as for families that have little to no cash and need “housing, food, utilities, clothing or medical care” (California Department of Social Services). With that being said, the analytical methods present in the research paper will now be covered.
Another crucial aspect to be explored through the research method are the analytical methods that are present, such as the qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods. Throughout this research paper, there will be mix of all of these three different types of methods that allow for a more holistic approach to the essay. Qualitative research methods, those that “focus on discovering and understanding the experiences, perspectives, and thoughts of participants” [ CITATION Mic10 11 1033 ], will be found throughout the research. In regards to the research question at hand, the qualitative research method will primarily involve the citizens of California who are and aren’t receiving benefits from CalWORKs. On the other hand, quantitative research methods, those that “maximize objectivity, replicability, and generalizability of findings, and are typically interested in prediction” [ CITATION Mic10 \l 1033 ], will be located throughout as well. These quantitative research methods will involve numerous statistics, survey data, public usage of funds, and most importantly the number of citizens previously, currently, and predicted to be enrolled in public assistance programs through CalWORKs. The qualitative data sets that are to be used it seems have not been factored into the State’s reasoning for either increasing support or diminishing it for the department’s programs. The last type of research method that will be discussed will be the mixed-methods type, this type being the one that combines “qualitative and quantitative methods in ways that ostensibly bridge their differences in the service of addressing a research question” [ CITATION Mic10 11 1033 ]. For this research paper, the mixed-methods research will involve the surveys from those that were previously using taxpayer dollars for public assistance as well as those that are currently using it as well. In total, there are millions of Californians using CalWORKs provided through the CDSS. Having discussed the three different types of research methods, the operationalization of variables will be covered.
This section will discuss the operationalization of the variables present in the research paper as they are important to know and understand prior to evaluating the research. The variables that will be discussed and referred to in the paper for each program are the: amount of allocation, the total number of people enrolled, the total number of people allowed to be enrolled, the fiscal amount left over after each fiscal year, the number of drop-outs, the number of repeat enrollees, and the amount of total assistance per citizen. The first variable, the amount of allocation, means the total amount of money that the CDSS, and in turn the State Government, allocates for CalWORKs to operate. This total amounts include the amount of money going to each recipient, administrative costs, and the amount left over for after all costs have been appropriated. The second variable, the total number of people enrolled, is a common variable found in these types of research papers but none-the-less is crucial in its achievement. This statistic is inclusive of all of the citizens of the State that have applied and been granted admission into the public assistance program under the program minimum and maximum requirements set forth by the State. The third variable, the total number of people allowed to be enrolled, is what some consider to be bureaucracy but others a requirement for the program’s results to be effective. This variable is essentially the total or maximum number of enrollees that each individual program can consider/enroll to effectively use the amount of money their respective program was allocated. The fourth variable, the fiscal amount left over after each fiscal year, is often a common variable used to measure effectiveness of a program. This variable’s core definition is to measure the fiscal viability of the program with regards to how much money they were originally allocated versus the amount they are left with at the end of the fiscal year. The fifth variable, the number of drop-outs, is a variable that is sometimes misguided and overlooked. This variable can be counter-intuitive for many because it represents taxpayer money that is “lost” or not fully accounted for in enrollees that drop out of the public assistance programs. The sixth variable, the number of repeat enrollees, is most certainly one of the most critical variables for this research paper. This variable in itself provides data to show how those who benefited from the program in one time around became enough self-sufficient to survive without public assistance versus those who found the program to not solve their situations. The seventh and last variable, the amount of total assistance per citizen, is a variable that needs to be examined in particular. This variable shows in essence how much the public, and government in fact, deems public assistance a crucial aspect of society, and the problems that need to be solved in the society. All of these variables will be collected from the California Department of Social Services’ CalWORKs reports that are published online as required by law. The research paper will draw these variables from a number of fiscal years, focusing primarily on the previous fiscal year, 2014-2015, as the current fiscal year, 2015-2016, is not yet completed. With this being covered, the reason for why these research methods will be discussed.
This last section will focus on the reasons of why the previously listed research models were selected. As mentioned above, this research paper will not center on just one of the analytical methods, but on all three to have a holistic approach to research question. The qualitative method was selected because the quality of the services that CalWORKs provides to California is just as important as the quantity of programs it provides. The society’s view on CalWORKs is imperative to consider because of its impact on the next year’s budget. If the quality that CalWORKs provides is not sufficient enough, the society of California would in turn suffer; this being why it is important to monitor and assesses this method of research. The second research method that was selected, the quantitative method, was because the raw data and numbers that provide insight and proof into the effectiveness of the programs at hand. This data is needed to bring light to the numerical figures that CalWORKs operates under yearly to provide its public assistance programs to Californians. The last research method, the mixed methods, was selected because it is important to consider simultaneously the qualitative and quantitative methods to effectively evaluate the CalWORKs program of its viability to those in need of these public assistance programs. A side-by-side comparison of these methods will provide this insight in an effective manner to allow for a thorough evaluation of its programs.
To conclude, this paper evaluated the California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) public sector program through the discussion of a number of points. The first point was the research question that discussed was stated to be: will the current model of the California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) CalWORKs program effectively solve the societal problems or does it just offer a temporary solution? A review of literature was covered next that included a discussion of five of the most relevant references used throughout the paper including , (2) a review of literature, (3) hypotheses, (4) research methods, and (5) a logic model for CalWORKs.
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