Childcare subsidies saved me - Women's Foundation California

ced_xavier-200pxBy Clarissa Doutherd, Parent Voices

I was living on the brink of homelessness when I first applied for California’s welfare-to-work program. I was a single mother. And my son was four months old.

A family child care provider in my neighborhood had told me that I could get financial assistance while I looked for a job. It saved us.

I got a part time job working as a bookkeeper’s assistant for 15 hours a week. I had no health benefits and no paid sick leave. But I did have subsidized childcare. And that meant I could go to work.Over the next two years I played by the rules: I waited in lines, caught multiple buses around town to meet with case workers to re-certify my eligibility, and I had my employer verify everything I did. It wasn’t easy, but I had a safe, reliable, affordable place to leave my son during the day—and that made it possible for me to work my way up to a full-time staff accountant position with benefits.

And then I lost everything. Because of budget cuts, I lost my childcare. I was suddenly faced with having to put over half of my income towards child care costs. I couldn’t afford it and my employer would not allow me to decrease my hours to below full-time. I had to quit my job to care for my son.

I was living in a nightmare as everything I worked so hard to achieve unraveled in a matter of months. And I’m not alone. Nearly a quarter of the total available slots for subsidized childcare and preschool have been eliminated in the last four years thanks to budget cuts. Since 2008, the childcare system has lost the capacity to serve 100,000 children.

Pulling yourself up out of poverty is hard enough as it is. But doing it while parenting with no support is nearly impossible. If we mean it when we say that we value families, if we’re being truthful when we say we want opportunities for every family, for every child, so that no one has a life sentence in poverty—well, that starts right here.

I have to admit that I’m very lucky. Thanks to the Women’s Foundation of California and their grant partner, Parent Voices, I got the support I needed–despite the budget cuts. But our state is filled with lots of other moms just like me, and they’re still struggling. We have an opportunity right now to push the Governor to create a budget that reverses many of the cuts that have left have them out in the cold–and we need your help to make sure he gets the message.

Send Governor Brown a letter today and urge him to draft a budget that begins to restore funding to critical programs—like subsidized childcare and the state preschool program!

Thank you for pushing the Governor to make the most of this opportunity so that California’s mothers don’t get left behind. And thank you for supporting the Women’s Foundation of California’s work on behalf of women and families.

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