California's poorest families deserve equal access to subsidized child care
by Denyne Colburn
, CEO of the California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA)
Prior to the pandemic community based alternative payment programs elevated a concern of inequity in California's subsidized child care system. These community programs are tasked with meeting one-on-one with families to determine their need and eligibility for child care. As part of that process the parents bring in documentation of employment, hours worked and other information that ultimately may result in the family securing a child care voucher.
However, this is where the inequity comes into play. Income eligible parents with set or stable work hours are provided a set amount for child care via a voucher that they can then use to purchase the child care that best meets their family needs. Because the amount on the voucher is static, when a child care provider or center accepts a child into their care, they know how much they will be reimbursed each month.
For parents with fluctuating or unstable work hours, prior to the pandemic, these parents had to choose a child care provider or center that would accept their child(ren) but would not be provided a set amount guarantee to care for the child. Providers that accepted children whose parents worked flexible hours would not be paid if the child did not show up regardless of the reason. This resulted in higher quality family child care providers and licensed centers unable to take a voucher from a family that did not provide them a guarantee that they could budget. For parents with unstable or on-call work hours, their children did not have equitable access to higher quality child care settings because their vouchers came with no guarantees.
California's subsidized child care system is to be implemented based on how child care exists in the private market. In the private market, a parent pays for child care whether the child shows up or not. The private market guarantee of payment based on enrollment of a child and not based on whether the child attends should be the same for subsidized families, but it is not.
During the pandemic, Governor Newsom identified this inequitable and discriminatory practice and addressed it immediately so that essential workers, parents and providers could all be supported by a consistent application of the law. Governor Newsom issued an Executive Order (EO) N-45-20 that mandated all essential and working families be provided fair and equal choice of any family child care or center based child care that met the needs of the family. This EO further stated that all providers would be guaranteed a set and stable amount. As a field, we were so appreciative of making this correction and hoping it would continue past the pandemic.
On this note and wanting to make sure that however means it happened, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva introduced AB 865 as a back up to any permanent action the governor might pursue. Further, ASM Quirk-Silva presented this issue to the members of the California Legislative Women's Caucus who to this on as a top priority for child care.
As of this writing, it is unclear if Governor Newsom is going to correct this inequitable and discriminatory practice of ensuring that the babies and children of working families with unstable work hours only have access to a lower standard of child care. If this law is not changed, then these families have a high probability of continuing to live in poverty while their children are subject to falling farther and farther behind when time to start school.
GOVERNOR NEWSOM NEEDS TO SIGN AB 865
! He has until October 10th to take action.
If you would like to communicate your support of AB 865 with the Governor's Office you can send an email to: Leg.Unit@gov.ca.gov
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