Cuts to California child care subsidy leave families scrambling for options

As soon as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used his veto power last week to slash all $256 million in funding for a child care program she uses, Daniella Scally asked for a day off work to go door to door looking for other options.

All the panicked Sacramento mother of three could do was add her children's names to waiting lists.

As of Nov. 1, Scally and 30,000 other families and 55,000 children face an immediate crisis. They will lose all subsidies that help them pay for their children's child care needs under a special program known as CalWORKs Stage 3 Child Care.

Schwarzenegger vetoed the child care money and more than $700 million from other programs from the newly passed state budget in order to build the state's reserve fund.

The Stage 3 program was designed to support parents who have graduated from California's welfare-to-work program, CalWORKs, and have been completely off all cash aid for two years and gainfully employed.

Scally said she gets no cash aid now, no food stamps, no Medi-Cal.

The only help she gets, she said, is Stage 3 child care aid.

Her nightmare, she said, is she'll end up being forced to quit the $38,000-a-year job at a landscape company she has fought to keep through the recession.

Scally takes home about $2,400 a month after taxes, she said. She pays $250 a month in child care. If she now has to suddenly take on the entire $1,800 a month her child care actually costs, she said, she, her 12-year-old son and twin toddlers would be left with $500 a month to live on.

That would likely leave the single mother no choice but to fall back on welfare, she said.

It would reverse years of work, she said, to learn new skills and overcome low self-esteem that held her back after her family "disowned" her for becoming pregnant at 17.

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