Country Officials: Put Unemployed Parents to Work Caring for Their Kids

With steep state budget cuts under debate in Sacramento, Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to push for changes to CalWorks and other government aid programs they said would save nearly $270 million, The Los angeles Times reported today.

Included in their suggestions is a novel proposal: Put unemployed parents to work caring for their own children.

"What we're saying is do not cut Welfare to Work outright: Target the cuts to the people who are the most expensive," Miguel Santana, a deputy to the county's chief executive, told the Times.

Parents now receiving assistance must attend job training and search for work. While they fulfill those requirements, they are eligible for subsidized child care, which typically costs the state about $500 a month per child in L.A. County, the newspaper reported.

The parents of children under age 1, may stay home and still receive benefits. Now, county officials propose expanding that to parents who have one child under age 2 or two children under age 6. Monthly job training and child-care costs for such parents often exceed their welfare check, Santana told the newspaper.

In Los Angeles County, 8,000 households with more than one child under age 6 receive CalWorks-subsidized child care, according to the county's department of social services. If adopted, county officials estimate the proposal -- intended to counter Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's threat to eliminate CalWorks -- could save the state $140 million this fiscal year.

On Tuesday, a legislative budget committee in Sacramento rejected the governor's plan to eliminate CalWorks, proposing instead to cut it by $270 million. Those cuts include $175 million in reductions to child-care and employment services.

That would allow the county to move forward with its proposal, said Philip K. Browning, director of the county Department of Public Social Services, The Times reported.

A spokeswoman for the governor said he will continue to push for the elimination of CalWorks but remains open to other options as he tries to close the $24.3-billion budget shortfall.

County supervisors -- who plan to pursue a waiver to get federal welfare funds even if CalWorks is eliminated -- also proposed Tuesday that the state cap and overhaul general relief for single people, as well as reduce payments to adoptive parents, disabled foster children and some child-care providers, the newspaper reported.

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