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The Self-Sufficiency Standard and Calculator

The Self-Sufficiency Standard and Calculator

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The Self-Sufficiency Standard and Calculator

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  1. The Self-Sufficiency Standard and Calculator A Path to Economic Security

  2. Training Overview: • Who We Are: The CFES Project • The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • Ins & Outs of the Online Calculator • Using the Calculator with Clients • Using the Calculator to Track Progress out of Poverty

  3. The CFES Project • Californians for Economic Security (CFES) is: • A project of The Insight Center for Community Economic Development; • CFES is made up of: CA Family Economic Security Initiative (CA FESI) and CA Elder Economic Security Initiative (Cal-EESI) • CFES is a statewide advocacy coalition made up of human services, job training, economic/workforce development, educational, women’s and welfare rights organizations and agencies; • CFES is a resource for its members on welfare reform, funding sources & self-sufficiency best practices. • FESI listserv: • EESI listserv:

  4. The CFES Project • CFES’ priorities include… • Maintaining a strong and diverse statewide network of organizations concerned with economic self-sufficiency issues; • Investment in higher education and high-wage job training for low-income people; • Adoption of more realistic cost-of-living measures for families and seniors: the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard and the Elder Economic Security Standard • Use of the Family and Elder Standards to inform policy decisions and measure the impact of programs for California families and seniors

  5. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard is… • a measure of the amount of income needed • for 156 different family types • to adequately meet basic needs • in each county in California • without public or private assistance.

  6. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • The Family Standard is calculated by Dr. Diana Pearce, PhD at the University of Washington. • The Family Standard has been calculated for over 36 states. • The California Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard is calculated for each of the state’s 58 counties. • The Family Standard is distributed nationally by Wider Opportunities for Women ( and in California by The Insight Center for Community Economic Development (

  7. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • The numbers in the Family Standard use publicly available data sources, including: • CHILD CARE: California Dept. of Education • FOOD: USDA Low-Cost Food Plan • HEALTH INSURANCE: Medical Expenditure Panel Survey • HOUSING: HUD Fair Market Rents for Section 8 • TRANSPORTATION: U.S. Census, National Association of Insurance Commissioners

  8. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard How much does it cost to work & raise a family in California? • Roughly 1/3 of California households have incomes too low to pay for basic needs. • A single parent raising two children would need to hold down THREE minimum wage jobs in the Bay Area just to make ends meet. • THE RESULT: low-wage workers get stuck between poverty & self-sufficiency.

  9. San Francisco County Self-Sufficiency Standard: single adult + preschooler & schoolage child

  10. The Federal Poverty Line: • based on cost of food • no tax credits • “one size fits all” in every county and state of U.S. • describes poverty • Self-Sufficiency Standard • all basic costs • EITC, child/care credits • varies by county • varies by family size • varies by age of children • describes self-sufficiency

  11. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • Getting to economic self-sufficiency: • Increase wages: • Job training, Higher education • Decrease costs: Work supports • These strategies can work together to help families move out of poverty.

  12. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard

  13. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • The Self-Sufficiency Standard can be used… • As a counseling tool for clients and students; • Chabot Community College (Hayward) and Berkeley City College use the Calculator with students who are receiving CalWORKs to help them find the benefits for which they are eligible • As a benchmarking tool for client progress toward self-sufficiency; • Riverside Community Action Partnership and their local faith-based organization partners use the Calculator to help families with short-term and long-term financial planning and budgeting • As priority-setting criteria for funding streams and program agendas; • United Way of the Bay Area has adopted the Self-Sufficiency Standard as a tool to prioritize and measure the effectiveness of funding strategies. One group of grantees was asked to track client progress toward self-sufficiency. • As eligibility criteria for services • Workforce Investment Boards in Long Beach, Pasadena, and San Bernardino have adopted a self-sufficiency measure for service eligibility, which enables more low-wage workers to access training.

  14. The California Self-Sufficiency Calculator • OVERVIEW •

  15. California Self-Sufficiency Calculator • What does the Self-Sufficiency Calculator do? • It is an anonymous, online tool for 14 counties around the state; • Allows users to learn which of 14 different work supports & tax credits they are eligible for; • Uses the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard to show progress out of poverty;

  16. California Self-Sufficiency Calculator • What else does the Self-Sufficiency Calculator do? • Provides information about each benefit, what documents to bring, and where the offices are; • Provides information about other ways to move out of poverty: asset building, getting education while on CalWORKs, etc; • Provides referral information for other basic needs and legal aid.

  17. California Self-Sufficiency Calculator • How is this Calculator different from other benefit calculators? • The Self-Sufficiency Calculator is the onlytool that uses the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard to measure true progress out of poverty; • It is a localized, living tool: The Insight Center regularly updates the county office, benefit eligibility, and referral information.

  18. The California Self-Sufficiency Calculator • DEMONSTRATION •

  19. The Standard as a Counseling Tool… • Provide clients in workforce system with a realistic goal for achieving economic self-sufficiency. • Help bridge the gap between wages and basic needs by identifying the work supports for which a family is eligible. • Create short-term and long-term income packages and educational and career goals • Benchmark individual achievements based on improvement of wage adequacy.

  20. The Standard as a Benchmarking Tool… • Assess client’s wage adequacy at intake: • income/expenses AND • income/Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard • Measure a client’s movement towards the Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard at periodic intervals (their improved wage adequacy) • Use that rate of improvement to determine success for individuals and programs.

  21. Movement towards self-sufficiency is the goal… • If you set “movement towards self-sufficiency” as an individual goal for your clients, how could you communicate this goal to them? • What are some other “milestones” that indicate movement towards economic self-sufficiency?

  22. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE INSIGHT CENTER AND OUR PROGRAMS, PLEASE VISIT OUR WEB SITE: WWW.INSIGHTCCED.ORG • For more information about CFES, the Family and Elder Standards, • and the Self-Sufficiency Calculator, • contact Jenny Chung at or 510-251-2600 x124