A regional report on welfare reform from a community perspective
Organized by the Institute for Community Collaborative Studies, California State University, Monterey Bay
Funded by the California Endowment
Within the Central California Coast region of the Monterey Bay there are smaller, isolated and more rural communities that were not involved in the welfare reform process because they do not have access to a political structure that gives them a voice for meaningful participation. These sub-regional areas lack the structured resources to adequately respond to the challenges of providing job, business and training opportunities, childcare and health services, transportation and other resources related to moving welfare recipients to self-sufficiency living.
In response to the mandate for reform of the welfare system, the Institute for Community Collaborative Studies received a one-year grant from the California Endowment to provide community organization and technical assistance to organize a "voice" for five communities in the counties of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz. Working in partnership with ICCS one non-profit organization served temporarily as a host organization in each of the five communities and received a small stipend of $4,000 to support participation of community residents. Participating communities are Davenport and the San Lorenzo Valley of Santa Cruz County, Hollister in San Benito County, Pajaro and Greenfield of Monterey County.
ICCS designed a community empowerment model. The steps in the Collaborative Pursuit Process are:
1) Provide information on legislation and identify community issues emerging from the impact of welfare reform, 2) Support individuals taking action using the network of local resources to address their needs, 3) Promote group planning and problem solving, reaching out for broader community participation 4) Negotiate with policy makers from community institutions on issues where they could aid the community's efforts.
Following are the profiles describing how each community chose to address their welfare reform issues. Each story is as different as the community it represents. With only a short time and even less money, these groups were able to identify the needs of their communities, mobilize residents, agencies and community groups into action, resulting in tangible accomplishments and leader development.