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CalWorks Stage 3 benefits extended until Nov. 5

October 29, 2010 5:51:16 PM PDT
On Friday afternoon, an Oakland judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the state from suspending funding for a child care program that benefits about 8,000 Bay Area kids and their families. The funding was set to run out Nov. 1, but has now been extended at least a week.

Hundreds who showed up for a meeting on child care cuts broke into cheers and tears when learning that an Oakland judge had issued a one-week reprieve.

"I'm thrilled to hear that. It buys us a little more time and there's another hearing next week to see if we can't get that extended even farther," Kate Ertz-Berger from the Contra Costa County Child Care Council said.

The temporary injunction from Alameda County Judge Frank Roesch requires the state to continue paying for CalWorks Stage 3 child care until Nov. 5.

Earlier this month, Gov. Schwarzenegger abruptly eliminated $256 million in funding for the program with a line item veto. A spokesman for Schwarzenegger told ABC7 News it was a "tough" choice that had to be made to bolster the state's reserves.

In Contra Costa County, there are 900 families in the Stage 3 program, including many single working mothers like Toria Turner.

"I'm not asking for no handouts anywhere, I work. I don't get food stamps, I don't get Medi-Cal. I pay for all that on my own. I want to know what other options do I have as a parent," she said.

Not only will families lose their childcare, workers and child care counselors will lose their jobs. With 11 of 14 kids funded by Stage 3, Brenda's Kidz Care in Richmond may have to close its doors.

"What we're really concerned about is the children, what are they going to do now and the parents that are losing their day care," child care provider Isaac Lewis said.

In the short term, the hope is that the First 5 Commission can come up with some bridge funding to keep the program running, but it would be limited. In the long term, the hope is that the California Legislature provides lasting relief, and restoring the Stage 3 funding when they convene in January.


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