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Assembly gives $10m to fund child care for low-income families

Boy in a preschool classroom.
Boy in a preschool classroom.

Finally some good news for parents working minimum wage jobs and struggling to pay for childcare. On Monday, the California State Assembly said it is giving $10 million to the CalWORKs Stage 3 program to fund more childcare seats.

The money will go to help parents who are working full time but who don't make enough to cover childcare costs and rely on the state’s Stage 3 welfare program.

"Thousands of families across the state face a Catch-22--go to work to support their children who have to then fend for themselves or lose their jobs so they can take care of their children," Assembly speaker John A. Pérez said in a statement announcing the grant.

As we have reported on this blog, budget cuts to early childhood programs have greatly reduced the number of infant and toddler seats available for children in low-income families who cannot afford to pay for private preschool. While the Governor’s proposed budget for next year does not include further cuts, it doesn't restore years of cuts to a program advocates call critical to the education of the state’s poorest children.

The Assembly’s grant recognizes the bind that low-income parents face. Having transitioned off public assistance and into full time work, parents have been unable to find free or low-cost childcare. Without it, parents have to stay home with their children, exacerbating the cycle of poverty. Pérez’s website says the money will come from the Assembly operating budget.

The California Assembly has been shoring up the Stage 3 CalWORKs program since 2010, when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed all Stage 3 funding. With no money, 81,000 children and 60,000 families lost services, according to Pérez.

In response, the Assembly contributed $6 million to the program the year the cuts went into effect and increased it to $11 million last year. This year's grant is $1 million less than last year.