In October, 2010, then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used his veto power to eliminate funding for the subsidized childcare program for low-income working families known as CalWORKs Stage 3 child care. The low-income parents of more than 56,000 children were told that their child care would end on November 1st, creating havoc for thousands of people who suddenly were forced to choose between keeping their jobs and staying off welfare, or taking care of their children. By forcing many working families back onto welfare, the veto was an ill-advised strategy to save state funds.
The Public Interest Law Project (PILP) stepped in as lead counsel, partnering with the Child Care Law Center and several legal services programs throughout the state, to swiftly challenge the child care terminations. Representing Parent Voices Oakland and four low-income parents, PILP swiftly obtained an emergency order from the Alameda County Superior Court, keeping the child care in place until there was a further hearing. A few days later, Judge Carvill issued an order requiring the California Department of Education (CDE) to continue Stage 3 child care, until it notified families of their right to be screened for other subsidized childcare services. Link to Judge’s Ruling
After obtaining two favorable court orders, the parties negotiated a court-approved settlement with CDE that extended the Stage 3 program through December 31, 2010 and required state-contracted child care agencies to inform families of their right to request a screening for any available child care alternatives. Many families were able to transition to other subsidized child care. When interim funding was appropriated in February 2011, many more of the former Stage 3 families were restored to the program.
In late June, 2011, the parties reached a Final Stipulated Order of Settlement which restores child care services for the remaining parents who have successfully transitioned off welfare but whose wages are still too low to cover child care. The final settlement ensures that all of the former Stage 3 families who lost child care services due to the Governor’s veto will have an opportunity to come back onto the program.
“This settlement gives California working families everything they sought in court,” said Patti Prunhuber of The Public Interest Law Project. “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.”
“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. 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 Public Interest Law Project co-counseled with the Child Care Law Center, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County, Public Counsel Law Center, and Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.