California is struggling.
Financial woe and unemployment have overrun the state. In hopes of closing the gap in the state’s deficit, the governor included in his state budget numerous cuts to state-funded programs, including state-aided childcare.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed in his May Revision to eliminate $1.2 billion in subsidized childcare services and CalWORKs Stage 2 and 3, programs that had a $2.3 billion budget. The cuts will eliminate subsidized slots for approximately 174,000 children.
The logic of this particular cut — “Let’s fix the financial crisis by increasing unemployment rates” — is ludicrous.
There are 659,561 children under the age of six in California who come from single-parent families with a parent in the labor force. Nearly 200,000 children receive care through the CalWORKs program, the program that Schwarzenegger has significantly cut. This effectively leaves thousands of parents without childcare overnight and many more in the future.
Schwarzenegger made the cuts last month and the impacts were supposed to go into effect Nov. 1, giving parents only a month’s notice.
However, a lawsuit was filed at the end of October against the California Department of Education, successfully petitioning to postpone the date. Families receiving their care through the program will now have until Nov. 23 to figure out where to send their children or whether they can continue to be members of the work force.
On average, the annual cost to send an infant to full-time care at a center is $11,580. For a 4-year-old, it’s $8,234. The annual cost for full-time care is $7,937 for an infant in a family childcare home and $7,180 for a 4-year-old. Any way you slice it, child care is expensive — 42 percent of the median income for a single parent, female-headed family to be precise. This percentage goes up with each child requiring childcare.
Furthermore, not just families will be affected. The cuts are expected to impact 62,000 childcare providers as well. Fewer children will be enrolled in childcare, because their parents can no longer afford it.
To take aid away from childcare is, for many families, an unemployment sentence. With the burden of thousands of dollars in childcare costs suddenly entirely on their shoulders, families are placed in an unfair and irresolvable predicament: Do they choose to leave their jobs, or leave their children home alone? And where will these families turn to when they have no means of income? The state. It’s a vicious cycle.
Kudos, Schwarzenegger, you figured out a way to eliminate $1.2 billion from the budget. Too bad that number is completely negated by the hundreds of thousands of jobs you are potentially costing, and the years of fiscal plague you are tacking onto the state of California.