The loss of these subsidies -- also known as Stage 3 state-subsidized child care funding, and offered to parents who have found employment after completing California's state-run welfare to work program (CalWORKS) -- comes as a result of a $256 million cut made to the state budget by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Though subsidies will continue to be available to current and recent members of the welfare-to-work program, parents who have been in the workforce for more than two years will have to find new ways to pay for the child care that allows them to remain in the workforce -- or as is often the case, they'll lose their jobs.
Ms. Foundation grantee Parent Voices, a California-based organization working to improve access to child care for all families in their communities, launched a campaign to fight back against these cuts -- which will, they point out, only increase unemployment and poverty levels (particularly among single-parent households, the majority of which are women-led) at a time when exactly the opposite is needed. Let's not forget: already, unemployment among single mothers has doubled since 2007 and is the highest it's been in 25 years!
Today, October 26th, Parent Voices is participating in a demonstration to demand that Stage 3 Child Care be immediately refunded. The protest is taking place outside of The Women's Conference in Long Beach (a project of the Governor's wife, Maria Shriver) and is expected to draw more than one thousand participants.
The hope is that "The Other Women's Conference" (as the protest is known) will highlight just how profoundly these cuts will impact low-income women and children and help push legislators to authorize bridge funding to keep the subsidies at least temporarily in place. Long-term, the goal of Parent Voices and other Ms. Foundation grantees is to create policies that recognize quality, affordable child care as an essential complement to quality jobs and indisputably necessary if women and families are to achieve economic security.
For more information on today's actions and future events to save Stage 3 child care funding (including a town hall meeting in Contra Costa County at the end of the week and a children's protest parade on Saturday, 10/30) visit Parent Voices.
And if you want to learn more about the state of affordable child care across the US, Ms. Foundation grantee the National Women's Law Center will be hosting a conference call on Wednesday, October 27th (tomorrow!) on this very topic. State Child Care Assistance Policies: Current Challenges for Children and Families will address how advocates are working in their states on key challenges affecting low-income families as well as providers’ access to child care assistance.
The call begins at 3 PM Eastern; please visit NWLC's registration page to RSVP for this event (registration required).
Photo: Elizabeth Rappaport, Moore Community House