Schwarzenegger eliminated funding to CalWORKs Stage 3 Child Care, a program that subsidizes care for children whose parents have successfully transitioned from welfare and who are employed but can’t afford to pay the full cost of child care.
The state Department of Education, which runs Stage 3, is now required to try to find families that were purged from the program and restore child care services. Families that already have moved to other child care programs will be able to choose whether to return.
“Thousands of families were left confused as to whether they would still have affordable care for their children,” said Melissa Rodgers, an attorney with the Child Care Law Center, a co-counsel in the case. “We know for a fact that many families who lost their Stage 3 child care have never come back. We want them to know that they have the right to come back to Stage 3 now.”
H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the California Department of Finance, told California Watch in November that Schwarzenegger made the cuts to shore up the state's reserves.
“The governor believed that the level of the budget reserves was inadequate,” Palmer said.
State education officials didn't support the cuts, however. Parents and advocates sued the California Department of Education on Oct. 29, demanding due process for Stage 3 recipients. They argued that they needed more time to get screened to see if they qualified for alternative child care services. A few days later, a judge agreed and ordered a temporary freeze on eliminating services.