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RESEARCH AREAS > Welfare/Social Insurance > Cal-Learn

Description of the Cal-Learn Program
The Cal-Learn program, authorized by the California legislature in 1993 (Senate Bills 35 and 1078), is a mandatory program for pregnant or parenting teens on welfare who have not obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Under the Cal-Learn program, pregnant and parenting teens receive a $100 bonus up to four times a year for maintaining satisfactory progress in school (at least a "C" grade point average per report card) and a one-time $500 bonus for high school graduation or its equivalent. Their AFDC grants are reduced by $100 up to four times a year if they fail either to maintain at least a "D" grade point average in school or to submit a report card.

Intensive case management is offered to each teen, as is financial support for child care, transportation, and school-related expenses. Teens on AFDC who are eligible are mandated to participate in Cal-Learn until they earn a high school diploma or its equivalent, or until they turn 19. The CalWORKs plan (effective January 1998) allows teens in the program to volunteer to participate in Cal-Learn until they turn 20.

Research Strategy for Evaluation of Cal-Learn
In collaboration with CDSS, UC DATA designed a research strategy for evaluating Cal-Learn. The evaluation employed a two-way factorial design to contrast the independent and combined effects of two program elements: (1) intensive case management and (2) financial incentives and penalties. Teens who meet eligibility requirements were randomly assigned to one of four research conditions: (1) full Cal-Learn, i.e., case management with bonuses and sanctions; (2) case management with no bonuses or sanctions; (3) bonuses and sanctions with no case management; or (4) neither case management nor bonus and sanctions.

All teens in the evaluation were offered supportive services, including reimbursement for child care, transportation to school, and school-related expenses. Random assignment of of teen parents to the different research conditions took place between November 1994 and June 1997.

Publications emerging from this project include evaluations of the implementation of Cal-Learn and the impact of the program elements on outcomes for teens in Cal-Learn.
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