State agrees to fund CalWORKS childcare program through the end of the year

Child care advocates on Wednesday announced a settlement that will allow parents statewide – including several hundred in San Luis Obispo County – to continue using a child care program through the end of the year.

Under the agreement approved by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill, the state will continue to provide child care services through its welfare-to-work program through Dec. 31.

The settlement also requires state contracted child-care agencies to tell families of their right to request a screening for any other available child care services, said Melissa Rodgers of the Child Care Law Center, one of the parties in a lawsuit filed after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated the CalWORKs Stage 3 program in a line-item veto in October.

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 more than 54,000 children would be affected by the cuts, including 434 in San Luis Obispo County.

The news came as a relief to 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.

“Our next step is to start notifying parents that we have child care through Dec. 31,” she said. “But our struggle isn’t over. We still need to have Stage 3 restored to keep CalWORKs intact because the program works.”

-- Cynthia Lambert