California Watch, “Child care providers struggle without a state budget” (Aug. 17, 2010)
“Child care providers struggle without a state budget”
Without a state budget, child care programs funded through school districts, nonprofit organizations and licensed individuals are facing financial hardships as they try to “float” their budgets until state funds are let loose.
Some child care providers have been forced to close, and others are considering closing in the coming weeks if no budget is signed, county child care coordinators said.
In his May revision of the 2010-11 budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed eliminating about $1.2 billion in need-based, subsidized child care. The governor’s proposed budget included state preschool, but eliminated about 142,000 slots for subsidized child care, according to the revision.
H.D. Palmer, state Department of Finance spokesman, said the now-dead proposal to remove child care from the budget came about because of billions of dollars in lost savings in May relative to the January budget due to “legislative inaction,” he said. Palmer said the governor’s proposal to remove child care from the budget was no longer “on the table” since the Legislature has rejected it.
But until a budget is passed, those working with child care providers say some of programs are struggling financially and even closing. Donita Stromgren, policy and member services director for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, said child care providers are finding it difficult to secure lines of credit and loans to float their operations.
According to the Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement, providers in Alameda County already have faced cutbacks:
In Hayward USD, programs have already shut down due to action taken by the School Board in May to pink slip 75 child care staff (not only jeopardizing the jobs of families relying on the child care services the district provides, but adding its own staff to the growing numbers of unemployed.) Eight Oakland Unified School District child care centers are closing doors after July 30, 2010. In Berkeley and neighboring districts, programs will close as of August 31, 2010. For Alameda County school districts, this adds up to more than 600 preschool teachers and child care staff losing their jobs, and over 1500 preschool children and 1700 school age children losing programs and child care.
Alameda County Child Care Coordinator Angie Garling said programs there are pursuing financial assistance like repayable grants and loans, but those loans come interest payments “I just don’t think that’s fair,” she said, “It’s basically the Legislature and the governor taking money away from kids.”
Lori Riggs, coordinator of Imperial County’s child care and development planning council, said her county is “holding on by the skin of their teeth right now.” Riggs said licensed child care providers who provide care out of their homes are also at risk as they don’t have access to lines of credit that could hold them over until a budget is signed.
“It’s devastating to them,” she said.
Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger is pursuing another round of furloughs for about 144,000 state government workers, a move the governor said is designed to avoid cutbacks in social services programs. Schwarzenegger has asked the state Supreme Court to grant him to authority to institute the furloughs, which would require state employees to take three unpaid days off from work each month.