About Us

The GAIN Program helps communities in the Los Angeles area build economic self-sufficiency through gainful employment. The LACOE GAIN Division is part of a large-scale, welfare-to-work initiative called Greater Avenues for Independence that operates in every county in California. In Los Angeles County, the initiative is under the supervision of the Department of Public Social Services.

The LACOE GAIN Division serves local businesses and employers by helping them find and hire quality workers who are seeking opportunities for meaningful employment. These prospective workers are participants in the state welfare programs known as California Work Opportunities and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKS) or General Relief Opportunities for Work (GROW).

Each year, the LACOE GAIN Division provides job-readiness and career planning services to 50,000 participants at 21 job club sites around the county.  The goal is to assist each participant in connecting with work opportunities that will lead to:  a job – a better job – a career.


In 1988, the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) collaborated together to meet the needs of welfare participants who were moving from dependence on welfare to self-sufficient employment.  LACOE was initially contracted to provide Orientation and Motivation Services, Educational Services, and Vocational Assessment Services.

The first challenge faced by this collaboration was addressing the issue of low self-esteem among the participants.  LACOE met this challenge by developing Orientation and Motivational classes for GAIN participants that provided positive self-esteem techniques using the GOALS (Gaining Opportunities and Living Skills) Program.  This program was designed to provide GAIN participants with techniques and strategies for changing their mindset from one of dependence on public assistance to one of economic self-sufficiency.

In July, 1993, LACOE was awarded the Job Services contract from DPSS.  The first initial contract was to provide Job Services at five (5) different sites -- Airport (West Los Angeles), Cerritos, South El Monte, San Fernando Valley and the  Downtown area.  The contract called for a 20% placement rate, and the LACOE Job Clubs achieved a 27.84% placement rate for the fiscal year 1993-1994.  During that year, LACOE served 7,160 participants, placed 1,993 into employment, and expanded Job Club sites to include Downtown Los Angeles, Pomona, Monterey Park, Downey and Lancaster.

During the first year of operation, LACOE staff developed the Job Services (Job Club) curriculum and also created the motto  "A Job, A Good Job, A Career".  In 1999, this motto was officially copyrighted by LACOE as "A Job, A Better Job, A Career" and is now shared and used nationally.

LACOE's GAIN Division has continued the collaboration with DPSS since those formative years. Because of this success, we were awarded the GROW (General Relief Opportunities for Work) contract in 1999.  This program is a derivative of the Los Angeles County CalWORKS Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program.  In October, 1998, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors elected to implement a welfare-to-work program for all General Relief (GR) clients in the county.

In July, 2007, LACOE was awarded its third GAIN contract with DPSS to provide Job Readiness and Career Planning Services to GAIN participants.  This contract is to be funded for five (5) years -- two years initially, with three one-year extensions. 

The GAIN Division staff provides services not only in English and Spanish, but also in the seven (7) threshold languages of Armenian, Cambodian, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin for the Non-English, Non-Spanish (NE/NS) program component.  Services are available in Farsi as well. We will begin to also service the refugee Employment Program participants, which is a part of NE/NS, in  January, 2008.

The GAIN/GROW Division continues to provide "stellar services" to participants at fourteen (14) GAIN Job Club sites, and direct and supportive services at twenty (20) GROW Orientation and Job Club sites.

Our Staff

Los Angeles County is a diverse community that is reflected in the highly qualified and professionally trained LACOE staff. With a wealth of experience in the fields of employment, human services, business and education, LACOE staff is well prepared to meet the challenge of assisting participants in eliminating barriers in order to achieve self-sufficiency through employment.

Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) Program

The Orientation/Motivation Program

This one-day session provides participants with detailed knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, as well as the benefits of participation in the GAIN program. O/M also includes a motivation module that addresses concepts, tools, and strategies designed to overcome adversity and achieve personal and professional goals.

Job Services

Our Job Services component also known as "Job Club," this four-week program has guided tens of thousands toward self-sufficiency through employment. Utilizing LACOE-developed curriculum and a "Job Preparation Guide" as well as innovative adult-learning strategies, Job Club participants learn and apply effective pre-employment skills, job-seeking strategies, and positive work ethics aimed at promoting long-term career success.


In addition to English and Spanish, GAIN services are available to those speaking other languages commonly found in Los Angeles County. Through the Non-English/Non-Spanish (NE/NS) Program and the Refugee Employment Program (REP), LACOE GAIN offers a full schedule of Armenian, Farsi, Russian, Vietnamese and Chinese-language sessions taught by certified bilingual staff utilizing professionally translated materials.

 General Relief Opportunities for Work (GROW)

The LACOE General Relief Opportunities for Work (GROW) program provides Orientation and Job Services to GROW participants at three sites in Los Angeles County. GROW participants are also offered the Rapid Employment Program (REP), Fast and Accessible Service to Returning Applicants for Knowledge (FASTRAK), and Specialized Job Club services. Each component is aimed at providing quality instruction in job preparation and pre-employment skills in an effort to place participants in gainful employment. LACOE also provides facilitator training and program support services to 15 community-based organization sites that provide Job Services to GROW participants throughout the county.


The FASTRAK Program provides individualized services for GROW participants with major barriers to employment. These services focus on enabling participants to become self-sufficient through employment despite these challenges.

Vocational Assessment (VA)

The LACOE GAIN Division manages six subcontracts with public and private agencies providing career assessment, vocational assessment, and learning disability evaluation and diagnosis services throughout Los Angeles County. The vocational assessment is provided to all GAIN participants who are not employed by the beginning of the fourth week of Job Club and to GROW participants who are enrolling in a short-term training program.

Our Services

Job Search Instruction and Assistance

All aspects of job search training, including career exploration, identifying transferable skills, completing job applications, creating professional resumes, contacting employers & succeeding in job interviews, are areas of specialty for LACOE’s GAIN Division and its staff. LACOE has provided these services throughout Los Angeles County since 1988. Our staff is both knowledgeable and professional, maintaining great partnerships with businesses and education and training providers in every community in the region.

We are results-oriented, and constantly analyze and report our job-placement outcomes to ensure that participants receive valuable assistance while saving limited taxpayer dollars.

Short-Term Training

The LACOE GAIN Division has contracted with various Community Colleges within Los Angeles county to address the "skills gap" that has gained so much attention lately by providing short-term training in the skills that employers are currently seeking in their labor force. In addition to providing industry-specific, focused training, LACOE works with business partners to eventually place participants that successfully complete training in good jobs with our partner companies. This formula of providing specific training for specific skills that businesses are seeking has proved to be very successful with some training cohort groups attaining up to 80% placement after completion of the program.

Job Development—
Matching Business Needs with Qualified Workers

Our Job Placement Specialist staff work with businesses across Los Angeles county to match qualified workers with the personnel requirements of our business partners. The GAIN Division offers in-house and outside recruitment opportunities, direct placement, and our highly attended Hiring Sprees among other services.

Supportive and Post-Employment Services

Most participants in our publicly-supported programs continue to receive direct financial assistance until achieving economic self-sufficiency. This may include subsidized child-care, transportation assistance, further education and training, and continued eligibility for low-income Medi-Cal health care coverage for both adult workers and their children.

Additionally, LACOE’s GAIN Division staff remain available to both the employer and to their new workers to ensure that obstacles to career stability and growth are overcome.

Customized Training and Workshops

In addition to providing core welfare-to-work services for job-seekers in LA County’s public assistance programs, LACOE’s GAIN Division has experience and expertise to deliver customized training for both public and private organizations.  Our upbeat and motivational staff has helped recently laid-off workers to succeed in the job market, as well as energizing current employees to form more productive and cooperative teams. 

Examples of our training and workshop offerings:

  • Winning New Jobs – A one week, half-day, program for recently laid-off workers.
  • Teen Passport to Success – An eight-week Saturdays program for at-risk teenagers.
  • Success Strategies for Career Advancement – Full-day training for mid-career staff.
  • The FISH Philosophy: Four Steps to a More Productive, Creative, & Fun Workplace.
  • 212 Degrees: Releasing Organizational Energy by Giving an Extra Degree of Effort.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

There is never any fee or cost to the employer for utilizing the applicant pre-screening and referral services of LACOE’s GAIN Division. Neither is there any obligation on the part of employers to hire one or any individuals referred for your final selection process.

In fact, most if not all of our applicants are eligible for generous business tax incentives, including the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) which may save a company thousands of dollars ($2400 to $9000) for each new employee hired under this program.

LACOE’s GAIN Division staff can assist your company in completing and submitting pre-certification forms for the federally-administered WOTC program.  For details see:

Click here to go to the WOTC website.