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Through behavioral health and/or substance use services, CalWORKs helps remove any barriers that keeps someone from finding and maintaining a job. KernBHRS and Kern County Department of Human Services have partnered together to help clients get back on their feet. KernBHRS provides key behavioral health services to help clients cope with their mental illness or substance use, while clients receive  employment training and resources through DHS. 

Am I eligible to receive services?

You are eligible if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • Receive TANF (cash aid) from the Kern County Department of Human Services for yourself and your children.

  • Are enrolled in the CalWORKs program.

  • Struggle with substance abuse, mental health, and/or domestic violence problems.

What services are available to help me?

  • Groups

  • Case management

  • Individual/family therapy

  • Substance use disorder treatment 

  • Psychiatric services including medication (if needed)

  • Peer support



A mental health assessment will be completed by a therapist to identify the mental health symptoms that may be barriers for you to transition from Welfare to Work. Some of these symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, etc., may be measured through various screening tools/questionnaires used during the assessment, at which point your strengths and needs will be identified.


Case Management

Every client has a case manager for mental health, substance use or both. The case manager works with you on:

  • Treatment Plan – Reviewed together to develop and refine your goals and the steps to overcome your obstacles.

  • Services – Help facilitate services that help you achieve your goals. 

You will usually meet with your case manager in our office, or in your home if requested. A case manager serves as a client’s liaison and advocate through the process of treatment and early recovery. Successfully treating addiction, alcoholism and/or mental illness requires carefully coordinated care with the treatment team.


Mental Health Services

Groups are designed to help you develop safe and healthy coping skills needed to overcome various obstacles. Groups are assigned by your therapist and are based on your needs, schedule and current situation. We realize that attending groups may sound uncomfortable, but groups are extremely therapeutic and therefore a necessary part of the CalWORKs program.


Individual Therapy: The need for Individual and/or family therapy will be determined at the time of your assessment based on your diagnosis and conversation with the clinician. Therapists are available to assist you with emotional issues that have become barriers for you. However, most clients will be required to attend at least one group.

Psychiatric Services: Sometimes medication is recommended to overcome issues such as depression or anxiety. A psychiatrist is available to evaluate your need for medication and provide prescriptions. The doctor does not provide counseling. Medication services are provided only when they have been deemed necessary, as long as clients are participating in treatment. CalWORKs is not a medication-only program.


Substance Abuse Services

Available to those with substance use disorders, clients will be assigned a substance use disorder specialist who will provide services such as education, support groups and relapse prevention tools. Group services include Early Recovery Skills, Relapse Prevention, Family Education and a Women’s Matrix.

Early Recovery Skills Group: Eight sessions of Early Recovery Skills are designed to provide structure to introduce clients to the basic tools of recovery, identifying triggers, understanding physical challenges our bodies face in recovery, and to help clients adjust to participation in a group setting such as Relapse Prevention (RP) or other 12-Step or mutual-help meetings.


Relapse Prevention Group: 32 sessions of Relapse Prevention are designed to allow clients to interact with one another, providing strategies and tools to sustain their recovery, identifying precursors of relapse, and build a strong support system from participating in a long-term group experience.

Individual Counseling: A certified substance use disorder specialist is available to provide one-to-one counseling to assist people in becoming and staying clean and sober. The frequency of individual counseling may vary from weekly to monthly, depending on your needs and the SUDS’ recommendations.

Residential Treatment: If a client is in need of inpatient substance use treatment, a referral can be made for residential treatment. The SUDS can make the referral, or the client can call the Gateway Access at (866) 266-4898.


For more information about CalWORKs, click here.

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