Child care crisis demands a statewide solution
Child care providers, parents and supporters gathered at the Monterey County Government Center Sept. 1 to urge the State Legislature to reform a child care system in crisis so families in Salinas and elsewhere can get back to work.
Quality, affordable child care is critical for families trying to move from welfare to work, but loopholes written into state law enable counties to divert funding away from child care. Over the last year Monterey County has received state money for child care, yet slashed child care programs by 36%, leaving parents who want to go to work or school dependent on public assistance.
“Cuts to child care support for families have broken the promise of welfare to work,” said Maria Sanchez, a Monterey County child care provider. “Lack of quality, affordable child care is a primary reason families have trouble transitioning off public assistance. If California doesn’t fix the broken child care system, we are consigning families to long-term dependence on public services.”
Rosario Alvarez, a single mother who relies on childcare in Monterey County, also spoke in support of child care reform.
“Without the peace of mind of knowing my kids are in a safe, loving environment, I wouldn’t have been able to provide for my family,” she said. “But other families won’t have the same opportunity to become self-sufficient if legislators don’t repair a broken child care system.”
Since 2009, rather than fully fund child care services, the state has provided exemptions for counties to waive the welfare-to-work requirement for certain families in the CalWORKs program.
Counties are also exempt from enforcing the welfare-to-work requirement and providing child care assistance if the county determines that it has insufficient funding to provide necessary support services. In Monterey County, that has translated into a 36% reduction in support for child care, and cut short families’ opportunities to become self-sufficient.
What can you do?
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