June 2, 2017: LOS ANGELES TIMES - Child care credit, which fell behind inflation, may get boost from California Legislature

June 02, 2017

Link to original story and photos HERE:

By Natalie Kitroeff

California’s Legislature has proposed making more low-income families eligible for subsidized child care. In budget hearings last week, the Assembly and the Senate voted to increase the income allowed to qualify for the benefit.

Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) will wrangle with Gov. Jerry Brown over several suggested tweaks to his revised proposal over the next two weeks, and face a June 15 deadline to send him a final budget.

Brown did not have the increase in his revised budget plan, released in May.

The state hasn’t raised the income to qualify for child care subsidies since 2007, when it required a family to make no more than 70% of the state median income in 2005.

Today, a family of three can make no more than $42,216 to get funding. If Brown OKs the Legislature’s proposal, the income limit would rise to $4,358 a month, or $52,298 a year, according to the nonprofit California Budget & Policy Center.

The median income for a family of four in California has increased by about $16,000 since 2005, to $83,012, according to federal data.

The decade-old income limit has made it harder for poor families to keep the child care benefit while reaping the rewards of a rising minimum wage, advocates say.

After the state’s minimum wage went up to $10.50 in January, two parents of one child who work full-time, minimum wage jobs no longer qualify for the benefit, as The Times reported earlier this year.

"We have exacerbated the problem with the Fight for 15, by increasing the minimum wage," said Senator Holly Mitchell, the Senate Budget Committee chair. "People aren't moving out of poverty. To earn an additional 50 cents an hour and lose a subsidy that may be $1,200 or 1300 a month is just not fair."

The state pays for all of the cost for the most destitute families in the program, but parents contribute larger amounts toward care as their incomes rise.

Parents across the state have chosen to stall their careers in a desperate scramble to keep their kids in affordable day care, say providers and advocates.

The legislature’s decisions “are causing women to turn down raises, turn down promotions, to sacrifice their own economic well-being,” said Mary Ignatius, a statewide organizer for Parent Voices, an advocacy group.

Francis Brown is staring at that bleak choice.

The first time the 37-year-old got a promotion to executive assistant to the director at the Vacaville State Hospital, in August 2016, she was thrilled. Her monthly pay rose by a little more than $600, which wasn’t enough to disqualify the Sacramento resident from receiving some funding for child care.

Today, a family of three can make no more than $42,216 to get funding. If Brown OKs the Legislature’s proposal, the income limit would rise to $4,358 a month, or $52,298 a year, according to the nonprofit California Budget & Policy Center.

The median income for a family of four in California has increased by about $16,000 since 2005, to $83,012, according to federal data.

The decade-old income limit has made it harder for poor families to keep the child care benefit while reaping the rewards of a rising minimum wage, advocates say.

After the state’s minimum wage went up to $10.50 in January, two parents of one child who work full-time, minimum wage jobs no longer qualify for the benefit, as The Times reported earlier this year.

"We have exacerbated the problem with the Fight for 15, by increasing the minimum wage," said Senator Holly Mitchell, the Senate Budget Committee chair. "People aren't moving out of poverty. To earn an additional 50 cents an hour and lose a subsidy that may be $1,200 or 1300 a month is just not fair."

The state pays for all of the cost for the most destitute families in the program, but parents contribute larger amounts toward care as their incomes rise.

Parents across the state have chosen to stall their careers in a desperate scramble to keep their kids in affordable day care, say providers and advocates.

The legislature’s decisions “are causing women to turn down raises, turn down promotions, to sacrifice their own economic well-being,” said Mary Ignatius, a statewide organizer for Parent Voices, an advocacy group.

Francis Brown is staring at that bleak choice.

The first time the 37-year-old got a promotion to executive assistant to the director at the Vacaville State Hospital, in August 2016, she was thrilled. Her monthly pay rose by a little more than $600, which wasn’t enough to disqualify the Sacramento resident from receiving some funding for child care.