Meeting the Needs of Learning Disabled CalWORKS Students

Learning Disabilities Program Coordinator, Sacramento City College

As a result of recent legislation directed at reforming state and federal welfare practices, California's community colleges have begun developing new curriculum and student services aimed at preparing CalWORKS students for the workforce. Creating new programs and services to meet the needs of these students has raised a variety of issues. At Sacramento City College, for example, recent discussion centered around such questions as the following:

What are the basic skills levels of incoming CalWORKS students? What are these students' levels of motivation and self-esteem?

What kind of job-seeking skills and job histories do Cal-WORKS students have?

What courses should be developed for CalWORKS students?

Should these courses be open entry/open exit or short-term?

What are the county's labor market demands and trends?

Besides CalWORKS students with learning disabilities, what are other types of high-risk Cal-WORKS students are there?

To serve an expectedly high number of CalWORKS students with learning disabilities, Sacramento City College has drafted the plan outlined in the box at the right.

Ann Schafer may be reached at (916) 558-2451 schafea [at]

CalWORKS Special Employment Project Proposal for the Learning Disabled

Project Goal: To increase employability and job retention for the estimated 25-40% of students with learning disabilities.

Project Objectives:

1. Train agency personnel (e.g., CalWORKS Vocational Counselors) to recruit and refer potential students.

Project Activities:
Develop a screening/referral tool.
Train agency personnel to screen/refer students.
Produce videotape/manual for dissemination for "Train-the-Trainers" workshops.
Develop a WEB page for frequently asked questions.

2. Assess students for learning disabilities.

Provide Vocational Assessment.
Provide special orientation to the college.
Provide workplace success instruction.
Determine disability-related accomodations.
Project Activities:
Offer a special LD assessment class.
Provide vocational assessment.
Offer special orientation class.
Provide instruction in adaptive technology.
Develop a video to help outside agenciesidentify students with learning disabilities.

3. Provide opportunities for work.

Project Activities:
Offer specialized work experience classes.
Develop supportive peer mentoring process.
Develop/offer weekly support groups.

4. Provide job search and job placement services.

Project Activities:
Develop partnerships with placement agencies.
Develop partnerships with potential employers.

5. Train employers and human resource personnel to understand employees with learning disabilities and deliver accomodations to them.
Project Activities:

Develop training procedures for employers.
Produce videotape/manual for dissemination.
Develop and monitor a WEB page for frequently asked questions.