Governor Terminates Child Care for Poor Californians

Governor Terminates Child Care for Poor Californians

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Even after Arnold Schwarzenegger moves on from his job as California’s governor, at least one decision he made in the final stretch of his tenure will have a lasting impact on tens of thousands of children and working families.

Earlier this month he slashed $256 million in funding for a childcare program. At least 55,000 children, including 8,000 in the Bay Area will be affected, as their parents are left to agonize about the future of their employment.

The families will lose their subsidized child care provided through a program, leaving them scrambling to find other options or risk losing their jobs. The program, known as CalWORKs Stage 3 Child Care, was intended to support families who graduated from the state’s welfare-to-work program, and no longer receive cash aid. The governor vetoed the child care money, along with $700 million for other programs, from the newly passed state budget.

Child care is expensive and without a subsidy it is almost impossible for low-income working families to afford it. Depending on the number of children who need care and their circumstances, families can pay hundreds of dollars a month for care. I have an autistic son, and although my child care subsidy was not affected, there are many parents with special-needs children who require intensive one-on-one care and special accommodations who will be left in freefall.

I know firsthand how difficult finding the right childcare placement for your child can be, especially if they have special needs. Many people have been using the same providers for years and many of the home-based providers are very close to the families they serve. Many childcare providers, who will also be impacted by the cuts, often times go out their way to help families, who need all the help they can get. Unlike many center-based child care providers, home-based childcare providers are flexible about drop-off and pick-up times can accommodate parents who work graveyard or swing shifts.

“The Governor does not understand the challenges of working families,” says Kate Ertz-Berger, executive director of the Contra Costa County Child Care Council. “By cutting Stage 3 funding, the governor has taken away the continuity of care and early education that gets children ready for school and puts their parents’ jobs at risk. It will hurt our community.”

“I was a victim of this budget cut,” said Renita Wilson angrily. The 31-year-old is a hardworking mother of two girls in grade school. “I don’t know what I am going to do, or how I am going to work now. I have not received CalWORKs benefits for over eight years and now that I can’t pay for child care, I may be forced to quit my job and re-apply for aid.”

Like Renita, working parents who lose their subsidies will be forced to choose between their job and child care.

The governor has made it clear that he does not care about the needs of struggling working families in California. The families that are affected by these cuts have gotten back on their feet and transitioned off of cash aid and now support their family through gainful employment. They will now be forced to go back on cash aid or worse; a life of crime in order to put food on the table, a roof over their children’s heads, and clothes on their backs.

What will these parents do when they are unable to take their children to their providers on November 2? How will they explain to their bosses that they will no longer be able to work because they are unable to afford child care? It is evident that the governor doesn’t give a damn about taking food and shelter from tends of thousands of children in California who rely on these services day to day.

Even though the subsidized child care program doesn’t officially end until November 1, childcare payments under the program have been suspended since July 1, due to the budget impasse. That means many providers have not been paid for their services for the past three months. I have a new provider and she contacted me about receiving payment last week, so we both called the Child Care Council and were stunned to know that no one has been paid for their services since the summer.

“I do not know what I am going to do, if I am not paid soon,” said Jackie Collins, a home-based daycare provider who lives in Pittsburg, Calif. “I am at risk of losing my house because I have used all my resources and dried up my savings account, just to pay my mortgage and buy food because I have not received payments from the child care council for the three children I watch.”

According to the Contra Costa Times Newspaper, “Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) announced a proposal this week that would go around the governor and restore funding to the program until a new governor takes office in January, reports the Contra Costa Times. In the meantime, tens of thousands of families are left in limbo and scrambling to find other options.

By slashing its funing, Gov. Schwarzenegger didn’t just kill the program, he killed the hopes of tens of thousands of working families who have dreamed of and fought to overcome poverty. He’s forcing them back into the same circumstances that they worked so hard to escape.

Apollonia Jordan, 25, is a freelance journalist and staff writer for the San Francsico Bay View newspaper. She was born and raised in Bay View Hunters Point, and now lives in the East Bay, where she is studying speech pathology.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Oct 29 2010

I cannot believe this , My boyfriend is out of work and on unemployment . He's put in millions of applications . He got an interview and is on track to be hired. We live together and are 3 months behind in our mortage thankfully he has been home to watch our daughters, but if he gets this job Unemployment will end and all his earnings and some of mine will now have to go to paying daycare. So now we will be further behind . I just can't believe when I call him this morning I have to tell him this . He is going to be devastated, again. What happend to the land of Opportunity? Where is the change we were promised by Mr. Obama ? The only change we have seen is for the worse .

Anonymous

Posted Oct 29 2010

I cannot believe this , My boyfriend is out of work and on unemployment . He's put in millions of applications . He got an interview and is on track to be hired. We live together and are 3 months behind in our mortage thankfully he has been home to watch our daughters, but if he gets this job Unemployment will end and all his earnings and some of mine will now have to go to paying daycare. So now we will be further behind . I just can't believe when I call him this morning I have to tell him this . He is going to be devastated, again. What happend to the land of Opportunity? Where is the change we were promised by Mr. Obama ? The only change we have seen is for the worse .

Anonymous

Posted Oct 29 2010

This will be my last day at work next week I will be forced to use up what vacation I have left untill I find someone to watch my daughter for me!!!! I will have to go on unemployment if I cant find anyone !!!! I HATE OUR GOVERNOR

Anonymous

Posted Oct 29 2010

This has been the worst three weeks of my life. This action by the Governor has devestated my family. I am a 36 year old single mother of three who has worked her entire life, and only after a divorce was I eventually forced to get help with child care expenses. My four year old who has been in the same licensed child care home and preschool since she was eighteen months old will now be uprooted and thrown into a sporatic if not chaotic environment from the structure she is used to. I have no way to afford regular full time care for her so that I may keep my job of three years. I was on Calworks for approximately 90 days and this program was a miracle for my family and I am not sure how we will survive now as we are barely making ends meat. I work hard, have paid taxes my entire life since I was 14 and now my family's entire livelihood was just tossed under the bus with the flick of a blue pencil. Thanks Arnie, you've really let me down.

Anonymous

Posted Oct 29 2010

WAIT! The Honorable Winne Carvill JUST ordered a stay of the cuts to November 5. There will be another hearing on the preliminary injunction on November 4 at 2pm.

This is lawyer talk for - the cuts won't come on Monday. This is breaking news. Contact information below:

Stephen Ronfeldt, Public Interest Law Project, (510) 891-9794 ext. 127,
sronfeldt@pilpca.org
Melissa Rodgers, Child Care Law Center, (415) 558-8005, mrodgers@childcarelaw.org
Robert Newman, Western Center on Law and Poverty, (213) 487-7211 ext. 2619,
rnewman@wclp.org
Catherine Lhamon, Public Counsel Law Center, (213) 385-2977 ext. 142,
clhamon@publiccounsel.org
Nu Usaha, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, (818) 834-7544,
nuusaha@nls-la.org
Dana Schumacher, Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, (213) 640-3943,
dschumacher@lafla.org

Anonymous

Posted Oct 29 2010

This has been the worst three weeks of my life. This action by the Governor has devastated my family. I am a 36 year old single mother of three who has worked her entire life, and only after a divorce was I eventually forced to get help with child care expenses. My four year old who has been in the same licensed child care home and preschool since she was eighteen months old will now be uprooted and thrown into a sporadic if not chaotic environment from the structure she is used to. I have no way to afford regular full time care for her so that I may keep my job of three years. I was on Calworks for approximately 90 days and this program was a miracle for my family and I am not sure how we will survive now as we are barely making ends meat. I work hard, have paid taxes my entire life since I was 14 and now my family's entire livelihood was just tossed under the bus with the flick of a blue pencil. Thanks Arnie, you've really let me down.

Anonymous

Posted Oct 30 2010

i, too, have utilized this program, have received the letters and have spent many a sleepless night. but, i did continue working, went on to pay for daycare myself. providers providing daycare, ask your parents what they can afford. i have a hard time with parents (not all) becoming so dependent on the program that they have nothing to fall back on because most if not all of it has been provided for them. a lot of these families have their children in private school daycare, why should my tax dollars go for their tuition when my children didn’t get the opportunity. the program is to help not do it all. many people i have met along the way feel it is their GOD given right to have the program do everything for them because they HAVE children but now they’re worried about not having it anymore. but they are living well, driving new (fixed up) cars, have “roommates/family” living with them and not saving one dime for a situation like this. saving is not out of the question if recipients have had help from this. i didn’t live with my nails done, hair done or new car(s). i walked many times, in the rain and heat, lived off of coupons and asked for a lot help. placing blame on someone else when you knew this would not last forever and now forever has come to an end is not the answer. MY COWORKER IS WORRIED BECAUSE SHE RECEIVED HER LETTER AND IS WORRIED THAT HER CHILD WILL HAVE TO GO TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL AND DAYCARE INSTEAD OF THE PRIVATE MONTESORRI DAYCARE FACILITY HE IS AT NOW. REALLY, are you kidding??? i worry about the cost of living and keep food on the table, a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs but my tax $s go to others on these programs to have the best of both worlds. WOW

PROVIDERS..ASK WHAT YOUR PARENTS CAN AFFORD!!!!!

for those who will be affected and are complaining , when do you take some (if any) responsibility for your decisions, your children and do something? you are all outraged about OUR tax dollars not being used for YOUR (not mine/ours) children's day/child care but when do we get a chance to voice where we think it should go... remember the money that pays for your assistance is not just yours but the whole state's (many of whom are getting assistance)

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