Every once in a while a report comes out that’s a game-changer, it makes you look at an issue in a different way . . . or at least it offers the opportunity to do so. Falling Behind: The Impact of the Great Recession and the Budget Crisis on California’s Women and their Families is such a report, released Wednesday by the California Budget Project (CBP), along with the study’s funder, the Women’s Foundation of California.
Author: Kate Karpilow
After months of budget battles, California’s child care system was ultimately pared down with a sharp scalpel, as were most health and social service programs. For child care it was a triple whammy – sharp reductions in reimbursement rates for licensed and unlicensed providers, increased fees and more restrictive income eligibility for parents, and a 15 percent across-the-board cut to all preschool and child care programs (excluding two programs that support parents in welfare-to-work).
Overall, California’s food stamp (now CalFresh) participation rate ranks next to last in the nation, but some California counties are taking steps to bring more low-income families into the program. To offer an inside view into one county’s efforts, calhealthreport.org partner Kate Karpilow of the California Center for Research on Women and Families interviewed Johnie Belford, who helps manage Fresno County’s CalFresh program.
Here’s a fact that should command the attention of every policymaker in California: Nearly 5 billion dollars in federal funding is lost each year when California families eligible for food stamps aren’t enrolled in the program. Funny how a state unemployment rate stuck at 12 percent-plus since August 2009 can turn a bureaucratic issue like “program participation rates” into a strategic discussion about economic stimulus.
Richard Speiglman is a Senior Researcher at the Child and Family Policy Institute of California (CFPIC), recognized for his commitment to understanding California’s welfare system (CalWORKs). His recent work has focused on what are known as “child-only” cases, which now make up just over half of the state’s CalWORKs caseload.
California’s welfare system, known as CalWORKs, is designed as a time-limited cash assistance and welfare-to-work program to help recipients get trained and employed. Self-sufficiency is the buzz word. But consider this fact: Since 2004/2005, children, not adults, have made up the majority of welfare cases in California. Under CalWORKs, cash assistance can be provided to eligible children in situations when their parents or caregivers are no longer eligible for aid or never were (see sidebar). These “child-only” cases comprised 53 percent of the CalWORKs caseload in the federal fiscal year ending in 2009.