Deisy Castro, a Salinas parent and United Way's Coordinator for CalWORKs, joined Francine Rodd from First 5 Monterey County and Shannon Watkins, Children’s Planning Council Chairperson and Bright Futures Steering Partner, to testify before the California State Assembly Committee on Human Services in favor of AB300, a bill that would allow Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties to develop localized county child care subsidy plans. The bill passed (6-0) out of the committee and will hopefully be heard in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations in May. If passed, AB 300 will give Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz Counties local control to help more families with young children access affordable, quality child care.
A Real Life Child Care Dilemma
Deisy provided testimony in support of AB 300-- recounting her difficult experience in finding affordable child care when her mom became unable to care for her toddler son. Without the option of family, half of Deisy’s income suddenly went to child care, the other half to housing. Due to statewide eligibility standards that do not account for counties with a high cost of living, her family fell short of qualifying for child care assistance by just a few dollars. She reported that she “felt stuck” between the choice of working to provide for her family or staying at home to care for her children. In closing, Deisy noted, “With a few changes to the child’s age limit, the family eligibility limit, and the reimbursement rate, we can provide more opportunity to more children in our county. It just makes sense.” While child care and housing still account for a large portion of her salary, she provides her son with quality child care because she knows it's key to a good future for him.
Several organizations sent in support letters and were present at the hearing to also provide their support. We are extremely appreciative of Assemblymember Anna Caballero and her staff who responded proactively to constituent’s concerns surrounding child care affordability for working families in her district. As AB 300 moves forward, we will keep you informed.
During the hearing, Shannan Watkins, Executive Director of Early Development Services, testified to the need of AB 300 for child care providers. She cited that providers are struggling to stay in business due to: loss of students because of the intended consequences of transitional kindergarten; inadequate facilities and increased costs of rent; and low provider reimbursement rates that have stayed stagnant since 2007 and further impacted with the increase in the minimum wage. Due to these issues, Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties forfeited over $2.3 million in fiscal year 2014/2015. AB 300, if passed, will make immediate use of some of these funds to provide more families with child care options.