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CalWORKs aid kept intact for state and San Luis Obispo County — for now

San Luis Obispo County parents who receive child care help through the state’s welfare-to-work program will still be able to drop their children off at day care or after-school programs next week.

But the long-term fate of a $256 million line-item veto by Gov. Arnold Schwarz-enegger to CalWORKs Stage 3 program is yet to be determined.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Friday delayed the elimination of funds for the program until the state notifies parents that they can be screened for eligibility for other programs.

Judge Wynee Carvill ordered a stay on the cut until the state Department of Education issues new notices to parents that they can be screened to see if they qualify for alternative aid.

He set another hearing for Nov. 23.

“The good news is parents will get child care next week,” said Sheri Wilson, director of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s Child Care Resource Connection, which funnels state funding to child care providers.

But, she added, “We don’t know when it will end.”

CalWORKs Stage 3 subsidizes child care for low-income families who have transitioned off welfare and have been off cash assistance for more than two years.

The state Department of Education estimated about 54,000 children would be affected by the cuts, including 434 in San Luis Obispo County.

A lawsuit filed in October by Parent Voices Oakland and four mothers who faced losing child care had urged the cuts be temporarily delayed so that working parents don’t have to choose between their jobs or paying for child care.

The state Assembly has contributed $6 million from its own operating budget to provide funds for child care until the Legislature can try to restore the funding.

First 5 commissioners statewide have put forward more than $34 million to help families in their counties, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said Friday.

First 5 is a state-funded program that provides money for services intended to improve early childhood development.

Last week, First 5 of San Luis Obispo County commissioners pledged to provide up to $300,000 for 204 county children up to 5 years old to continue receiving child care.

The money would be used in the event the state funding stops, Executive Director Susan Hughes said.Wilson said her staff is contacting parents to tell them to continue using child care. She said only a handful of parents decided not to continue with the program.

Wilson will also try to steer any families who might qualify toward other programs. Families that have not used a full five years’ worth of welfare, for example, may be able to receive child care help through a separate CalWORKs program.

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