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18,000 Children in Low-Income Working Families to Lose Child Care if Proposed Budget Cuts Are Enacted

Apr 08, 2008

SACRAMENTO, CA – Twelve prominent child development and advocacy organizations flanked by concerned parents testified before the State Assembly today to the profound, negative impact that proposed reductions to child care and preschool services would have on working families and their children. The Assembly takes up proposed reductions to child care funding this week. These reductions, totaling over $198 million statewide, would result in the loss of over 18,000 child care spaces in California for low-income working families. The Governor’s budget framed these reductions as “occurring through attrition” but failed to account for the hundreds of thousands of eligible children throughout the state already on the waiting list for child care.

Ted Lempert, Children Now president, stated, “These cuts hurt California’s working families, making it even harder for them to remain at work and pay taxes, but the real hit is on the children themselves. Early childhood programs are vital to the health, safety and success of our children.”

As families struggle to afford the increased costs of food, housing, health care and energy, the continued lack of availability of child care assistance jeopardizes working families’ employment. A program manager at UC Davis Department of Public Health Services, who preferred to remain anonymous, has been a recipient of child care subsidies for her three children for five years. She said, “Without child care subsidies, the cost of child care for me would be 67 percent of my take home pay, leaving me just enough to pay my $1,000 in rent and nothing left for food, clothes and medical needs. Having a subsidy has enabled my children to be in quality programs that have helped them grow and learn and to be cared for by dedicated professionals. If the Governor’s cuts go through, I could lose my subsidy and would need to leave my six and eight year-old children home alone with my ten year-old child or quit my job. That would be bad for me, my kids and the economy.”

Other prominent leaders also testified. Assemblymember Loni Hancock stated, “Early childhood programs produce productive adults who contribute to home and community well-being. Statistics verify positive results again and again. We must increase our revenue stream now to avoid significant loss of capacity in these programs. This is our only option.”

Patty Siegel, executive director of the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, commented, “We understand the difficult decisions faced by legislators trying to craft a balanced budget. However, if funds supporting child care subsidies are not maintained, parents who are employed in businesses throughout the area will be forced to make a decision to either stay home to care for their children and quit their jobs, or to leave their children unattended or in unsafe situations, while they continue to earn a paycheck. In our challenging economy neither option helps our business community. A typical family in these programs is a single working parent with two children earning around $1,800 per month, which would barely cover the cost of the family’s child care costs and rent.”

The Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education will consider these cuts today.

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