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Lowenthal bill requires CalWORKS recipients to learn English

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The state Assembly will soon consider a bill by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal that would add English classes to the list of activities the state requires of direct-aid recipients.
“There are about a dozen ways that CalWORKS recipients can show they’re trying to build a future,” said Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. “It seems pretty obvious to me that learning English needs to be on that list.”
Lowenthal’s bill, AB 1691, would allow CalWORKS recipients to count English classes towards their “core activity hour” requirements. Under existing law, English learners could be dropped from the program, while those learning other skills are allowed to continue receiving aid.
“Speaking English is a pretty important job skill,” said Lowenthal.
AB 1691 will allow participants to take these classes and remain in CalWORKS. By gaining English proficiency, the legal immigrants and refugees in the program will be better able to take advantage of job training programs and find permanent employment. Undocumented immigrants are excluded from the aid program.
“Ultimately,” said Lowenthal, “we will have fewer people in the CalWORKS system.”
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved the bill Wednesday on a 12-5 vote. The bill was previously approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee on a 4-1 vote. It could be up for a vote of the full Assembly as early as mid-April.

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Lowenthal bill requires CalWORKS recipients to learn English