Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Rigaud Joseph


Individuals and families in poverty face an abundance of barriers to self-sufficiency with the lack of higher education being the most prominent of them. The California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program has been the primary intervention to aid poverty following the welfare reform of 1996. Through their work first approach the CalWORKs program intends to set recipients on the path to self-sufficiency. Although education is the biggest weapon against poverty, CalWORKs recipients face a plethora of barriers while pursuing a college degree, as CalWORKs regulations are rigid and unsupportive toward higher education. Due to the minimal research focusing particularly on CALWORKs recipients, there was a need to further examine the barriers these recipients face while pursuing higher education. This qualitative study explored the barriers hindering CalWORKs recipient’s progression toward college completion. This study administered 11 face to face interviews with active and former CalWORKs recipients in Riverside County, California. The data gathered were transcribed and analyzed to identify recurrent themes regarding barriers toward college completion among CalWORKs recipients. The major themes identified by the study were: lack of knowledge, conflicting roles, lack of self-confidence, and unrealistic requirements by the CalWORKs program. The implications of these findings for CalWORKs stakeholders were discussed.

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Social Work Commons