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California State University, Stanislaus nursing faculty partnered with CalWORKS, the county welfare agency, on a pilot welfare-to-wellness-to-work program that provides health-related classes and activities to welfare recipients. The project compared the outcomes of one-week with three-week programs, and evaluated changes in participant self-esteem, self-care skills, depression, and personal and family wellness after two years. Because more than 5000 participants in the program between 2000 and 2012 would eventually be included, researchers planned a careful description of the sample.
The program staff and director participated in formulating pilot-interview questions, collecting consent forms, administering the questionnaires, and entering the data. The director of CalWORKS, whose case managers refer to the program, offered strategies to contact participants.
The pilot-study findings were disseminated at a CalWORKS conference in 2008. In addition, the Department of Nursing faculty who developed questions for the pilot will have access to data for research papers. Students assisted with the literature review and data input.
Ultimately, the university and the community benefited from the data maintained through the university’s Office of Institutional Research. Knowledge about social support recipients’ participation in a community-based welfare-to-wellness-to-work program can inform and assist health care and service providers, administrators, and policymakers. Faculty gain valuable experience in opening lines of communication between the university and the individuals with whom they work in the community. One key element learned in the process is that those involved in the research process are more likely to see the value of its results.
Carolyn Martin, Nursing
California State University, Stanislaus
Key words: Central Valley, public assistance/welfare/CalWORKS, health/health education/health disparities