In collaboration with United Way and First 5 of Ventura County, Community Action developed a Self-Sufficiency Calculator for broad use by Ventura County Social Service Agencies. The purpose of the Self-Sufficiency Calculator is to assist caseworkers in helping their client’s access work supports and make more informed budget and life decisions based on accurate information about their circumstances. Getting this information expeditiously and accurately has been difficult for caseworkers, who often spend weeks trying to help clients get information about just one benefit let alone several. The Calculator allows caseworkers to help clients in a new way that is valuable because of how easy it is to use, how fast it can calculate a family’s financial health and with accurate information, show the whole “financial picture” of a family. Primarily, it serves its purpose of increasing the ability of clients to get connected with social and economic benefits.
Many benefits such as Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) and CalFresh food subsidies are not used by all those qualified to receive the benefits. Most often, this underutilization is a result of otherwise qualified individuals and families being ill-informed about the program, the process for application, and/or their ability to qualify. This leaves hundreds of people without needed assistance, and, on a countywide scale, leaves millions of dollars that would otherwise be spent locally. Several agencies in the county are now working with the Self-Sufficiency Calculator in conjunction with their clientele case management. As a result, more Ventura County residents are being connected with new services and benefits.