Major Court Settlement Restores Child Care for Thousands of Working Families

Chaos Wrought by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s 2010 Veto Finally Resolved; Families Restored to Subsidized Child Care

OAKLAND, CA – Ending a six-month court case sparked by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s elimination of vital child care funding, the State of California agreed this week to ensure that working families will continue to have child care assistance. The ground-breaking settlement preserves child care for parents who have successfully transitioned off welfare but whose wages are still too low to cover child care.  The settlement affects the families of 56,000 California children who had been told they would lose their child care last October.

Governor Brown and the Legislature have both proposed budgets earlier this year that included funding for the program, but a final budget has not been passed. The terms of the settlement apply regardless of the budget outcome. The settlement agreement, signed by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill on June 22, provides an opportunity for parents who lost Stage 3 child care to come back onto the program now.

“This settlement gives California working families everything they sought in court,” said Patti Prunhuber, an attorney at the Public Interest Law Project, the lead counsel for Parent Voices Oakland, the group that filed the case. “We are grateful that the turmoil unleashed by Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto can finally be corrected and that children will be in safe, affordable child care while their parents are working.”

Last October and November, the Alameda County Superior Court issued two emergency orders temporarily halting the termination of child care, and ordering the state to notify families of their right to be screened for other child care programs. However, that did not end the controversy. Parents had already received notices telling them that their child care was ending on November 1st. “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.”  The Dept. of Education has agreed to have child care agencies conduct meaningful outreach efforts to find and restore child care services to former Stage 3 families who fell out of the system. Child care agencies will be trying to locate families in the coming weeks for re-enrollment.

“We have achieved success in saving thousands of jobs for working parents and child care providers, but most importantly, we have assured that our number one priority, child care for children, has been upheld,” said Corean Todd, a member of Parent Voices Oakland. “We hope that our efforts help parents nationwide to understand how important, integral, and powerful their voices are in the planning and implementation of change. This court case not only helped our Parent Voices Oakland members but all parents on a state wide level.  Child care keeps children learning and parents earning.”

The suit was brought by the Public Interest Law Project, the Child Care Law Center, the Western Center on Law & Poverty, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Public Counsel Law Center, and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

Stipulated Order of Final Settlement 6.22.11

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Contacts:

Patti Prunhuber, Public Interest Law Project, (510) 891-9794 ext. 125, pprunhuber@pilpca.org.

The Public Interest Law Project provides crucial litigation and advocacy support to local legal services and public interest law programs throughout California. (http://www.pilpca.org)

Melissa Rodgers, Child Care Law Center, (415) 558-8005, mrodgers@childcarelaw.org

 

The Child Care Law Center is a national nonprofit legal services organization that works to make affordable, good child care available to families and communities. (http://www.childcarelaw.org)

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