News Archive

Berkeley Law Center Report Takes Aim at New State Budget Proposal

By Andrew Cohen

A new report by the Berkeley Center on Health, Economic & Family Security concludes that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2010-11 California budget proposal would have a profoundly detrimental effect impact on children, families, schools, communities, and the economy.

Entitled Cutting Child Care Out from Under Californians, the report was written by center faculty member Catherine Albiston, associate director Melissa Rodgers, and recent graduate Shira Wakschlag ’10. It analyzes the proposed budget’s $1.2 billion reduction in child care funds and termination of CalWORKS, California’s welfare program.

The report, available here, argues that these cuts would cause severe economic insecurity for working parents and child care providers—causing a ripple effect across the economy. It also describes how the proposed budget would negatively impact the education and well-being of children currently served by existing programs.

Acccording to the report, Schwarzenegger’s proposed reduction in child care funds would eliminate most subsidized child care for low-income families. About 1.1 million of the 1.4 million people served by CalWORKS are children, and the cuts include child care subsidies for families that receive welfare or are no longer on it.

In all, the report says roughly 240,000 children would lose access to subsidized child care. Furthermore, many more families are likely to be affected as child care providers that serve both subsidized and unsubsidized families close down, reduce staff, or scale back their programs.

Overall, the report finds that the Governor’s child care proposal would:

  • Cut 84 percent of children (more than 72,000) from General Child Care subsidies
  • Cause more than 185,000 children to be cut from CalWORKS-linked child care, 159,000 of whom would end up without access to subsidized child care
  • Affect 130,000 child care providers who serve low-income children
  • Result in 38,000 full-time equivalent child care jobs to disappear
  • Force 85,000 working parents earning minimum wage to lose access to subsidized child care

In addition, the report finds that the proposed child care cuts would dismantle one of the state’s economic pillars. Noting that California has provided child care services to families since World War II, when they were needed to support women entering the workforce, the state’s subsidized child care system generates more than 130,000 child care related jobs and allows thousands of parents to work who otherwise may be unable to find care for their children.

According to the report, cutting child care would decrease employment in an already faltering job market as working parents face economic insecurity, child care providers lose jobs, and tax revenues shrink while social services costs grow. California would also lose billions of dollars in federal funding should CalWORKS be eliminated.