Subsidized Childcare Costs Will Increase for the Working Poor

(Editor’s Note: Corrections have been made to this post. The total income figures in the chart linked to in this post are not total State Median Income, as the post initially said, but actually the 75 percent of State Median Income maximum for childcare eligibility.  So $3,769 is 75 percent of a family of three’s toital monthly income of $5,025. just as $45,228 is 75 percent of a total annual income of $60,300. Figures below have been adjusted accordingly.)

For the state’s working poor, the Legislature’s proposed budget restores a child care option vetoed last year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but increases each family’s share of costs.

In October, the former GOP governor vetoed $256 million in funding for what’s known as CalWORKs Stage 3, which provides subsidized childcare for the working poor.

A lawsuit blocked the program from disappearing through the end of 2010. A deal with Gov. Jerry Brown kept the program funded until June 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

In their budget plan, lawmakers restore the program for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Childcare for families in CalWORKs, California’s welfare program, comes in three stages. Stage 1 starts when a CalWORKs parent begins a welfare-to-work program. It lasts six months or until coordinating work and childcare becomes “stable,” which is defined differently in different counties.

Once a family is “stable,” Stage 2 childcare begins. It continues throughout the rest of the family’s stay in CalWORKs and up to two years after a family stops receiving a monthly CalWORKs check.

Stage 3 begins after the two years of Stage 2 expire.

California is the only state that provides subsidized childcare for such a long period of time.

All families, whether CalWORKs graduates or not, are eligible to receive state subsidized childcare until their income exceeds 75 percent of the State Median Income, which was last set in 2007.

In his budget plan, Brown wanted to drop that ceiling to 60 percent. Lawmakers settled on 70 percent.

Using a family of three as an example, 75 percent of the State Median Income is $3,769 per month and $45,228 annually.

Under Brown’s plan, that maximum would have dropped to $3,015 and $36,180. The Legislature’s plan caps income at $3,517 and $42,210.

Families pay a fee for childcare calculated based on their income level and whether their kid is receiving care for six hours or more per day – “full time” — or less than six hours, “part time.”

In a family of three, the top full time one-day fee is $17.25 per child. The lowest is $2. Part time fees top out at $8.63 with $1 being the lowest.

Those fees would increase 10 percent under the Legislature’s budget proposal.

Lawmakers agreed with Brown to end eligibility for 11-year-olds and 12-year-olds, of which about 14,000 receive childcare now.

Unlike Brown who proposed a blanket exemption, lawmakers said that if a parent demonstrates they must work evenings and weekends, their 11 and 12-year-old children would remain eligible.


Filed under: Budget and Economy

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