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California Parents Escaping Poverty Can Keep Child Care

Having affordable, safe child care is critical for parents escaping poverty. Last year parents leaving state welfare went to court when then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed subsidized child care for their families, known as CalWORKs Stage 3 child care.

On June 22, the state of California agreed to ensure that working families will continue to have assistance, despite ongoing budget uncertainties in Sacramento. The ground-breaking settlement preserves child care services for parents who have successfully transitioned off welfare but whose wages are still too low to cover child care costs. 

"Losing child care would have sent a lot of people backwards, losing their jobs, losing their homes," said Public Counsel staff attorney Ritu Mahajan.

The suit was brought by Public Counsel, the Public Interest Law Project, the Child Care Law Center, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

On October 29, 2010, the Alameda County Superior Court issued an emergency injunction temporarily halting the veto of CalWORKs Stage 3 child care.

"It is really important for children to have consistent child care that is stable and reliable," said Mahajan.  "For a lot of kids their child care provider is the one constant person in their life besides their parents. That's what this case was about."

The Dept. of Education and subsidized child care contractors are now required to conduct meaningful outreach efforts to find and restore child care services to former Stage 3 families who fell out of the system. Families who have already moved to certain other state subsidized child care programs will be able to choose whether or not to come back to Stage 3 if Stage 3 funding is appropriated for 2011-2012. If families are already receiving child care through such alternate subsidized programs, then that assistance cannot be cut off as long as the family remains eligible for such services.

Read the settlement agreement (pdf)