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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Child Care SAVED for Working Parents!

Landmark settlement saves 
child care for thousands

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill approved a groundbreaking settlement in November which preserves child care services for the families of more than 56,000 California children. These services are for working parents who have transitioned off welfare but whose wages are still too low to cover child care.

The settlement came in a lawsuit filed by Parent Voices, Oakland and four California mothers who were told that their child care assistance, known as CalWORKs Stage 3 child care, would end on November 1. In a last-minute veto, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut that entire program from the budget, creating havoc for thousands of people who were suddenly forced to choose between keeping their jobs and staying off welfare or taking care of their children.

On October 29, Judge Carvill issued an emergency order halting the governor’s veto. A few days later, e modified his order to require the state to continue Stage 3 child care and to use its “best efforts” to screen parents for alternative childcare services. This settlement extends the Stage 3 program through December 31, 2010 and requires state-contracted child care agencies to inform families of their right to request a screening for any available child care alternatives.

Through the settlement the California Department of Education agreed to a process that allows any Stage 3 family who asks to be screened before December 10 to be considered for other available child care. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the families cut off from child care by the Governor’s veto retain the right to return to the Stage 3 program if funding is restored. Pressure remains on the Legislature and the new Governor to enact a permanent solution.


Child Care
keeps parents earning & children learning

By Carol Simmons
Coordinator, Child Care Planning Council of Sonoma County
Sonoma County families face challenges in rearing children to be healthy, productive citizens and members of the workforce. As an extremely high cost-of-living county, child care costs can be prohibitive, consuming 25% to 34% of families’ budgets, but we are not unique in
this problem.

A report recently released by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, “Parents and The High Cost of Child Care: 2010 Update” found that:
• The average center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food in every region of the United States.
• Monthly child care fees for two children at any age exceeded the median monthly rent cost, and were nearly as high, or even higher than, the average monthly mortgage payment in every state.
• In 40 states, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.
• California is one of the 10 least-affordable states for full-time infant care in a center, based on the cost of child care as a percentage of the state median income for a two-parent family.

We all rely on public structures to support and build a stronger community, including libraries, schools, etc. We also have a very effective system that works to promote family economic security through accessible and affordable child care, although it is severely under-funded. Subsidized child care allows families to work or be in training, and to make significant progress toward self-sufficiency.

A local single mother of an 8-month old began receiving subsidized child care and has been able to drastically change her life. The mother was divorced, and had very little job experience. Upon enrolling in the subsidized child care program, she was referred to JobLink – a county-operated one-stop job service center that links potential employees with employers, and provides job readiness and job search training and support. Through using these services, she was able to obtain employment at a local resort and has worked her way up to head housekeeper.

Throughout this time, the state was able to reimburse her child care provider because she was making less than 75% of the state median income. If she were not eligible for reimbursement, it would not have been cost-effective for her to work as the child care costs would have used up most of her salary.
Now, three years later, the mother’s income is more stable; she has a good work record and therefore has more employment options. She continues to receive child care reimbursements, with a share of cost based on her income level.

The baby has been under the care of a child care provider who understands child development and works with the children in her care to prepare them for kindergarten. The child care provider does this through play activities that stimulate and encourage brain development.

This mom has a lot of confidence in her future, and now is very hopeful for the future of her child.
Providing support so that the youngest citizens of Sonoma County grow up safe, secure, well cared for and well-educated is the wisest, most cost-effective investment we can make as a community. Be a voice for the children and future of Sonoma County, by advocating for investments in accessible, high-quality child care and early educational services for all!

For more information about child care and development issues in Sonoma County, please see the Child Care Planning Council website:

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