Tens of thousands of working families who were in danger of losing child care this month – putting their jobs in jeopardy in a dreary economy – have won a reprieve. A court settlement temporarily preserves child care for more than 55,000 children who were at risk of losing that care due to the Governor’s $256 million veto of CalWORKs “Stage 3” funding. Stage 3 serves families who have transitioned off CalWORKs cash assistance into the workforce, but whose incomes remain sufficiently low that they can’t afford the cost of child care. The settlement, approved by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill, “extends the Stage 3 program through December 31, 2010 and requires state-contracted child care agencies to inform families of their right to request a screening for any available child care alternatives,” according to the Child Care Law Center, one of the groups that sued to block the cuts. The settlement provides critical breathing room to tens of thousands of families who have successfully transitioned from welfare to work and who could end up back on cash assistance if they lose access to affordable child care. However, additional action will be needed to keep Stage 3 alive and maintain child care for 55,000-plus kids during 2011.
— Scott Graves