More on Stage 3 childcare cuts

"This is much like saying “Congratulations for getting off welfare!” then pushing them off the cliff." (Photo courtesy of ABCnews.go.com)

If you weren’t already aware, Governor Schwarzenegger item-line vetoed funding for the 3rd stage of the CalWORKS childcare program on Friday October 8th 2010. Stage 3 childcare, under this program, was designed to subsidize childcare for working parents who had transitioned off of welfare. Taking effect on November 1st, this gives working families only 2 weeks to find other arrangements for their children. For many, this is a devastating blow. Many of these families who had successfully left the welfare program are now being forced to consider welfare once again. Daycare providers are scrambling to fill spots that will be left vacant by the children who must now leave their care. Some of them will be shutting down, no longer able to afford to operate without the income that is being stripped from their business. Others will be reducing their staff to compensate for the lost wages. State workers are losing their jobs because much of their caseload is being denied this one benefit.

The system has failed them. The welfare system has now become a never-ending circle, as there is no help for families who are able to leave the system if they have young children who require daycare. At $600 a child (and more), there is no way for a low-income family to graduate to supporting themselves.

On the other hand, the CalWORKS childcare program is not without its flaws. A percentage of recipients are having family members, even their own boyfriend or girlfriend, watch their children for free or at reduced rates, pocketing the money that is meant for the bill. They are allowing the government to still pay 100% of their portion, not contributing their share of the balance one bit. Some families make too much to receive these benefits, but lie about their wages so they won’t be kicked out of the program. And there are families who are not even trying to leave the program. In essence they are being held back by a system that will pay the bill for years, and they end up depending on that help rather than finding a way to get out of it themselves.  (For more on California’s case against fraud, read the report by the state Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes).

Here is a synopsis of what people are saying regarding this recent line-item veto (from my previous blog on the subject):

“My rent alone is $1500 per month. Utilities, food, health insurance, gas, and all the other miscellaneous things that I encounter each month all add up to well over what I bring in. Add $2000 a month in child care expenses and well then basically I am just working to pay for childcare.” Momy of 6

“How long must every(one) pay for people to be on assistance? Welfare should be short term assistance. California has 12 % of the US population but one third of welfare recipients. There is something wrong with this picture.” Mike

“I have a son at UC Berkeley and a daughter graduating this year. How will I be able to fill these openings now and continue to pay for college tuition?” Julie V, licensed daycare provider for 18 years.

“I know there are some people who abuse the system, however, for individuals like myself who have went to school who are trying to better themselves and families, it’s very discouraging and makes me want to move out of California. You take two steps forward and get kicked back 5” Leila and Lola’s mommy

“I already gave my 2wk notice (at) my babysitter because I cannot afford it. So I may be in the welfare office Nov 1st to apply for aid.”  Maria

“While I am sympathetic to those families who are truly using the assistance as intended, are you aware that over 50% of the families in Stage 3 are having their children watched by license exempt providers – meaning they are being watched by grandparents/aunts/uncles/neighbors/boyfriends and they can continue to receive this assistance indefinitely as long as the child/family continues to meet eligibility requirements.” Serendipity

“So governor, should I quit what I have worked so hard for and return to welfare to reap the benefits that are not deserved by self-sustainable/single parents?” Renaea

My personal take? 2 weeks is not a long enough time for families and workers to adapt to these changes. It is putting California in a tailspin that will leave us in a much worse predicament than we already are. And I do not believe in taking the program away. These are people that have successfully transitioned off of welfare. This is the final step towards total independence. This is much like saying “Congratulations for getting off welfare!” then pushing them off the cliff. There needs to be a safety net so that they can gradually get back on their feet. Sure, stricter time limits would be a better idea than allowing children to just stay on the program until they are 12. Give them at least two years of subsidized care instead of pushing them out of the system and pretty much promising they’ll be back through the welfare revolving door.

As for fraud, right now there is a fight about who should pay for research for fraud cases – no one wants to foot the bill. This results in a system that looks the other way regarding those who are cheating the system. California needs to absorb the cost of investigating all cases to ensure that this money is going towards families that are utilizing the program for what it is meant for. If a family is cheating the system by quoting a daycare cost or situation that is false, there should be consequences. Yes, it will cost money and lots of time to employ workers for this reason. But in the long run, it will save California a lot of money, and it will allow families who deserve this help to receive it.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg has made it his own mission to fight this budget cut, among other cuts made that will hurt instead of help. He will be asking Schwarzenegger to reverse nearly $470 million in cuts that he made October 8th, including the $256 million he stripped from the childcare program. Unfortunately it looks like any reversals will not be able to take place until January when the next governor takes office. Even if Steinberg manages to put Stage 3 back on the budget, this still means that many families will be without this help for 2 months.

If this is affecting you, visit http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/yourleg.html and type in your zip code. Send a letter to every single address that comes up, stating why this should be overturned. Share what is happening in your life as a result. And don’t forget to include a letter to the governor:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160

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8 thoughts on “More on Stage 3 childcare cuts”

  1. this was a wrong choice how can i keep taking care of my kids and working i can not afford child care im going to school and working part time to get a better job for my family im scared i will have to drop out of school and will still have to pay for child care should i go apply for welfare its like we are being punished for being hard working but not rich i hope something changes give us all a co pay or let us keep it till our kids are 12 something im already stressed out and my kids see it what will happen nov 1

  2. This choice is unethical and wrong. By making this decision the govenor has shown that he has no repect or empathy for californians that depend on these funds to run their businesses, pay their mortgages, and keep food on the table. There are parents who are able to work and be off of welfare because of this program. This is not helping our economy at all, it’s making it worse. The responsible and considerate way to handle this would be to give people a fair warning or grace period before their livelihood is takened from them so quickly. This should not be allowed to happen. Remember there are consequences for every action. I guess the govenor is going out with a Big Bang….

  3. I have worked so hard to get where I am today with the assistance provided and now it’s being stripped away only to bring right back to the beginning. What was the point in helping to begin with if this is what the end result was going to be. Why does SOMEONE on the other end realize they are causing a bigger problem with their attempt to help save money. Please can anyone explain to to govenor that they will end up spending more than what they were putting out for subsidized care to stage 3 parents that will now need to start over at stage 1. REALLY is that it that difficult to see the road this is leading too? Lost, confused and feeling defeated….what’s the point!

  4. Folks- this program was suppose to be a help up and NOT a hand out. This subsidy program was to be temporary assistance, but instead I hear families are on this subsidy are supplementing their income and ride it out until their child or future children age out of the program. There needs to be time or fund limit for each family in all stages of CalWorks. If families are currently receiving government assistance why are they having more kids when you cant take care of the ones you already have? That is wrong. I will be writing to my district representative and the legislature supporting CalWorks time limit reform!

  5. 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.

    what do we as tax payers get to voice about when we are the ones paying for these programs to be available though our taxes. what i hear is that if we work and pay taxes, we are required to give to those who don’t or can’t. i don’t mind helping but certainly mind being taken advantage of…..

    Providers if this is as costly to you as it will be to the parents… ASK YOUR PARENTS WHAT THEY CAN AFFORD.

    i received my letter 10yr.s ago and it opened more doors than it closed. i survived and became a what if’er. i now think further ahead about my actions and what they might incur for me.

  6. We are holding a rally tomorrow at the Long Beach convention center where Arnold is supposed to be speaking about how much he cares for women working. Please join our protest to stop the cut for stage 3 childcare. We will be there ar 6am. I hope you all can attending

  7. Been there/done that and Jen……You are both misinformed. First, whatever experiences you have had-GREAT! But dont try to shame others because you did not find opportunities to better your situation or to make your life easier. How many times and how much clearer can it be? Cut welfare, dont cut the preschool experiences for low income children. AGAIN, these are working families who pay taxes just like you and who are pretty much raising their kids alone because the dead beat fathers wont help and the state is not holding them accountable. Not all of these single parents have family or parents that can GIVE THEM WHAT THEY CAN AFFORD!!!! Many of these families are also doing the shit jobs that you dont want but these people serve you. They do the jobs that many people do not want and because of this they receive lesser pay and need a little help with child care to continue being a contributing member of society as opposed to a welfare leech! Jen- you go ahead and write that letter. It wont make a difference. All the guidlines that you are talking about are already in place but they are not enforced. Why dont you advocate for people to get their a** off welfare and stop punishing the hard working single parents just because you have something stuck up your A**? And who the hell are you to question how many kids a person has? Not your business. Why dont you question why husbands beat the shit out of their wives and then leave them to take care of the children by themselves? Stop lumping everyone in to one category. Yes there are people not doing anything and abusing the system but not everyone should be punished because of the few bad apples. Go get some prozac or Jesus so that you can feel better about yourself and stop taking it out on the world (that goes for both of you). YOU ARE THE WEAKEST LINK….GOODBYE!

  8. I think that it is so important to reinstate the Stage 3 Cal Works Program. I am a single mother of a 3-year-old son and I work full time and go to school full time. If I do not have childcare, how will I be able to take care of my son? I am struggling to stay afloat as is and know it look as if I will lose my job and potentially my apartment because I cannot afford to pay for childcare for my son. I understand that some people take advantage of the program but there are so many parents who truly need this service. I have been off welfare for 2 1/2 years know and I would like to never have to go back on. However, if I keep taking off work because I cannot find a sitter for my son what choice will I have? My son deserves to be in a safe and nurturing environment while I am away at work and because of this cut, I cannot provide him with that type of environment. I do agree there should be guideline put in place so that people do not take advantage of the program. However, what about the parent who work for minimum wage? Should the children be punished? Are not all children entitled to a great education? Didn’t it benefit California as a whole to encourage learning in children so that they can be in a better position than their parents? I think it should be easier to help someone who is able and willing to help themselves. Not all people are blessed enough the make $50,000 plus per year some of us work for much lower wages for businesses that are needed in California. It is easy for someone who is in a better position to look down on people who struggle through life but everyone has their own experiences and some families need the help that has been provided. Why spend money on helping parents transition off Welfare if this cut will send them right back?

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