While California’s level of poverty has been growing, CalWORKs grants have been reduced by 12% over the last three years. The purchasing power of CalWORKs grants has dropped by more than half since 1989 and 1990.
It doesn’t have to be that way. While the Foundation is concerned that California be fiscally responsibile and not “overspend,” we also recognize that the past five years of budget cuts during the worst recession in decades has led to our skyrocketing poverty rate. It is critical that we begin an anti-poverty strategy to avoid further negative economic impact on California’s families who are struggling to make ends meet.
That’s why we’ve been working on two very important budget issues that will help improve the economic security of low income women and families. One is regarding a 12 percent increase to the CalWORKs grant, and the other is concerning childcare funding. We know that these two issues will be going to the Budget Conference Committee today and perhaps early next week. (See below for details of how to contact the Budget Committee members and what to say).
The Assembly Conference Committee members are Robert Blumenfield, Holly Mitchell, Nancy Skinner and Jeff Gorell. The Senate Conference Committee members are Mark Leno, Kevin de León, Loni Hancock and Bill Emmerson. Here is their contact info:
Holly Mitchell – 916.319.2054, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Skinner – 916.319.2015, email@example.com
Jeff Gorell – 916.319.2044, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Leno – 916.651.4011, email@example.com
Kevin de León – 916.651.4022, firstname.lastname@example.org
Loni Hancok – 916.651.4009, email@example.com
Bill Emmerson – 916.651.4023, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please let them know the following:
We appreciate that the California Senate and Assembly have both recognized the need for added resources to address our growing poverty rate. However, we feel it is important that the following be approved for the final budget:
1. We urge adoption of a phase in of Assemblymember Holly Mitchell’s CalWORKs Child Poverty Adjustment, starting with a 12% increase in the CalWORKs grant starting January 1, 2014, so that after a five-year period, CalWORKs provides support for families to live at 50% of the Federal Poverty Level. (The Western Center on Law and Poverty has written a description of the “Mitchell Plan.” Scroll down the page here to see where you can download it.)
While California’s level of poverty has been growing, CalWORKs grants have been reduced by 12% over the last three years. The purchasing power of CalWORKs grants has dropped by more than half since 1989 and 1990. It is critical that we begin an anti-poverty strategy to avoid further negative economic impact and a child poverty adjustment is fundamental.
2. Thank you so much for restoring Stage 3 childcare and please protect childcare resource and referral services by backfilling $1.4 million in quality set aside funds.
The 1990 federal legislation originally required 10% of total funding be set aside for “quality improvement.” Quality improvement was broadly defined but included childcare resource and referral services, licensing, and training and professional development. Unfortunately, when the final legislation was negotiated, the Quality Set Aside funding was reduced from 10% to 4% even though 10% was critically needed. In reality, California has been undermatched by 6% since 1990. It is important to note that a 10% cut to quality funds is disproportionate given that quality funds represent less than 4% of the total CCDF funding.