The Department of Social Services is pleased that the 1996-96 Grand Jury looked closely at the GAIN Program and how it is trying to move AFDC clients more rapidly and successfully toward self sufficiency. Over the past three years, the Santa Barbara's GAIN public-private delivery mode has significantly improved outcomes for AFDC clients and for the taxpayer. Last year Santa Barbara was ranked 23rd in the state in terms of the size of AFDC caseload and 21st in terms of our GAIN budget. At the same time we were ranked 8th in the state in the total number of AFDC clients terminating from AFDC due to employment and 10th in terms of the cost benefit ratio of our GAIN program. Over the past 2 years we have increased our job placements 145% and AFDC grant savings 159%, while reducing our cost per job placement by 45%. We plan to improve the outcomes further.

This improvement is the result of the Department's implementation of a different philosophy of GAIN service delivery and through the focus on employment outcomes by Department of Social Service's GAIN and contract staff. With the expansion this year of a Self- Sufficiency Center to the city of Santa Barbara and with new innovations in service delivery just begun, we expect even better results in the future. The goal of the GAIN program is to give an employment message to applicants and recipients of AFDC and to help them find jobs that will reduce their dependency on welfare.

Most of the recommendations that are suggested by the Grand Jury have already been implemented or otherwise dealt with. Specific responses are as follows:

RECOMMENDATION 1: The DSS should compile a list of mandates that the

department deems not beneficial to its clients and actively pursue the change of such mandates.

RESPONSE: Currently we have waivers of some mandates in place and are still

implementing positive changes allowed under AB 1371. On the short term because proposed welfare reform is so close, pursuing waivers to other state and federal mandates at this time would not be productive.

RECOMMENDATION 2: The Board of Supervisors should direct the Auditor-Controller's office to do performance and financial audits on a scheduled, ongoing basis.

RESPONSE: The Department has made changes in response to the last audit

referred to in the Grand Jury report. The Department believes in accountability and has just completed monitoring reviews of some of our GAIN contractors. The Auditor-Controller and the Board of Supervisors will need to decide if auditing the GAIN program is a priority for their limited resources.

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RECOMMENDATION 3: DSS should assess educational problems at the

beginning of the GAIN program, not after the four-week Job Club.

RESPONSE: Under AB 1371 and the GAIN Flow Waiver Demonstration Project, JOB Club is the first activity that most GAIN clients begin. Clients' educational level are determined prior to JOB Club and in some instances they can get educational services before going to JOB Services. However, the Department does encourage clients to voluntarily participate in JOB Club so they can get into employment as soon as possible while concurrently continuing their education.

RECOMMENDATION 4: The DSS should look into waivers of mandates to

enforce necessary compliance and procedural terms.

RESPONSE: AB 1371 has shortened the time it takes to sanction clients for not cooperating. The Department is just implementing these new rules. For the past 2 years we have been very successful in carrying out sanctions. In 1993-94 in the first 10 months the department had only sanctioned 17 clients. In the first 10 months of this year we have sanctioned 122. In the narrative of the Grand Jury report, there was also reference to the need for more welfare fraud investigators. The Department, along with the District Attorney, already urgently pursues welfare fraud. Even though we are ranked 23rd in the state for AFDC caseload size, we rank 18th in the number of fraud referrals made and 17th in terms of welfare fraud convictions.

RECOMMENDATION 5a: The DSS should continue to implement AB 1371 in

order to improve efficiency.

RECOMMENDATION 5b: The DSS should continue to adequately train the

staff on constantly changing procedures.

RESPONSE: The Department is implementing AB 1371 and is training staff on

the new procedures.

RECOMMENDATION 6: The DSS should investigate new types of service

delivery systems.

RESPONSE: The Department is continuing to look at more effective ways to

encourage and support self sufficiency. On May 1, the Department began a pilot in Santa Maria to direct new AFDC applicants directly and immediately into JOB services at the Self-Sufficiency Center.

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RECOMMENDATION 7: The DSS should monitor the progress of this program

and assess its outcomes.

RESPONSE: DSS is participating with other agencies in the Fatherhood

Coalition which is the collaborative that is the advisory body to the Klein Bottle's Male Involvement Program.