For Immediate Release
Mary Ignatius, Parent Voices Statewide Organizer
Parents Win $25m in state budget stabilizing child care for 280,000 families
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 27, 2017 – “When I found out the income guidelines being used were ten years old, I felt betrayed. Everything today costs more than it did a decade ago. I recently had to turn down a $0.50 raise because I would lose my affordable child care. I am so excited that I can get back to making progress, this is literally going to change our lives,” said Krystal Johnson, a mother of two. Today, the Governor signed his 2017-18 Budget Bill, which includes $25 million to end the decade old freeze on the state median income (SMI) used to determine income eligibility for subsidized child care and authorizes 12 months of continuous eligibility and stability for families, children, and the providers who care for them.
With the recent incremental increase to the State’s minimum wage, some families were no longer eligible for affordable child care they depend on to go to work adding to the urgency of fixing the policy. For the last four years, members of Parent Voices, a statewide grassroots parent advocacy group, led and organized a budget and legislative campaign to call attention to the negative effects outdated income eligibility had on their families.
Krystal does not stand alone. Through outreach and education, Parent Voices found there were thousands of parents across the state that either lost or were close to losing their child care subsidy assistance prematurely, because their income eligibility was artificially deflated by repeated freezes of the criteria. Over the last four years, 50 parents testified at key budget and legislative hearings and 2,000 parents visited their legislators speaking about the humiliation of turning down hard earned raises for the fear of losing their subsidy and how it would disrupt the stability they finally made in their lives. Parents also met with the Department of Education, Department of Finance, and the Governor’s office to call on their support. Across the state, parents can claim victory and know that grassroots organizing efforts can really make a difference in budget and legislative policy.
Parent Voices believe in order for policies to benefit, rather than hurt families, those directly affected need to advocate for themselves. Although Ana Estella Calles became ineligible for child care during the campaign, it did not stop her from wanting to fight for other families. “I testified at hearings to describe how difficult and stressful it was to ask my employer every four months for paystubs and to sign employment verification forms when I had a subsidy. I didn’t want any other parent to experience that level of stress and fear. I am glad there are groups like Parent Voices that help us take our stories and turn them into social change.”
The benefits of these policies expand across the entire system:
- Parents can continue to progress in their careers by confidently taking the raises, promotions, better job opportunities and extra hours without fear of losing affordable child care.
- Children will benefit from continuity of care for a minimum of 12 months which allows them to build strong relationships with their caregivers.
- Child care providers and owners can better plan for their businesses knowing children will be in those slots for a minimum of 12 months.
- Employers will benefit from a more stable workforce because they have continuous child care and will only have to sign off on documentation once a year.
- School districts and preschool centers will fill empty classrooms because they can enroll more families.
This win is also a result of partnership and collaboration, including the Child Care Law Center who co-sponsored AB 2150 and AB 60 with us, wrote the legislation, provided invaluable technical assistance,and supported parents to understand their legal right to appeal terminations; California Budget and Policy Center who for the last four years provided key data and analysis that helped the campaign; the entire child care advocacy community who supported AB 60 and advocated for the changes through the budget; and the Stronger CA Advocates Network who adopted these policy priorities under its child care pillar. In the Legislature, we are grateful to the Leadership of Assembly Member Miguel Santiago who was the principal author of AB 2150 and AB 60 as well as Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher who was a joint author of both bills. We would also like to thank Legislative Leadership: Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Pro tem Kevin de Leon; Budget Chairs: Assembly Member Phil Ting and Senator Holly Mitchell; and Legislative Women’s Caucus who has championed child care as their exclusive budget priority.
After the child care system lost $1 billion during the recession, these changes, along with increasing the reimbursement rates to child care providers, are a comprehensive step towards stabilizing our families and workforce again. “With so much uncertainty at the federal level, expanding and protecting access to child care here at home will help bring much needed stability and security to CA’s working families and the child care providers we depend on.” stated Mary Ignatius, Parent Voices Statewide Organizer.
If you are interested in interviewing parents, please contact Mary Ignatius at 415-420-2349.
Parent Voices is a parent led, parent run grassroots organization fighting to make quality child care accessible and affordable to all families.