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California: Child Care Providers Fight to Restore Program for Families

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) signs two negotiated union agreements covering approximately 9,000 corrections and social service workers.

Long Beach, California

Hundreds of child care providers, parents and supporters rallied last fall to demand continued funding for a program that helps low-income working parents who no longer receive welfare to pay for child care.

The demonstrators included members of Child Care Providers UNITED (CCPUnited), which is affiliated with AFSCME's National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE) and the Service Employee International Union (SEIU). CCPUnited represents the state's 75,000 child care providers. Nearly 14,000 are directly affected by the funding cuts.

At issue are child care subsidies available to parents who have left welfare in favor of jobs or school. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) cut $256 million from the program, known as CalWORKS Stage 3, in October - effectively gutting the program, which affected more than 56,000 parents statewide. A bill to restore funding through June, with a mixture of state and federal dollars, was introduced in December by Assembly Speaker John Pérez, (D-Los Angeles). Its supporters are working to ensure the measure will become law with the signature of the state's new governor, Jerry Brown (D).

Putting a public face to the issue, demonstrators like Yessika Magdaleno of Garden Grove, a CCPU/AFSCME member, spoke at the October rally, outside a woman's conference organized by Governor Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver.

"Child care empowers working parents and helps educate a new generation of citizens," said Magdaleno. "Cutting subsidies actually would cost the state more, because many parents who otherwise could not afford child care would need to quit their jobs to stay home with their kids, forcing them to re-apply for welfare."

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