New California law expands low-income parents’ access to subsidized child care – Orange County Register

By ASHLEY HOPKINSON, EdSource

In an effort to remove obstacles for Californians trying to succeed in the labor market, a new law could make access to child care easier for low-income parents taking classes to learn English or complete high school.

The law will expand the eligibility requirements for subsidized child care. It will make low-income parents who are are enrolled in English as a second language classes (ESL) or a program to earn a high school diploma or general education development certificate (GED) eligible to place their children in subsidized care.

Although in the past some parents taking ESL classes were considered eligible for subsidized care, it was not specifically listed as a factor for eligibility.

Under existing law, low-income families who met the income criteria and who were participating in vocational training could qualify for state child care services. Vocational training, also referred to as career technical education, provides workforce training that leads directly into professional fields such as health care or office management. However the law did not clearly spell out what courses qualified as vocational training, advocates said.

The new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last month, addresses a major obstacle that parents, especially those who are low-income, face — how to find or pay for child care while they try to improve the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Kristen Schumacher, a policy analyst with the California Budget and Policy Center, said including ESL and GED classes in the eligibility criteria for child care is “a common sense change that could help many parents overcome barriers to employment and self-sufficiency.”

The change in the law was necessary to ensure that all child care centers were interpreting eligibility the same way, said Jennifer Greppi, an advocate with Parent Voices, a nonprofit that advocates for child care policies. Some child care centers accepted English as a second language classes as a type of vocational training, while others did not, she said. This meant that some parents were deemed ineligible for subsidized care, she added.

“The purpose of the new law is to make sure everyone is on the same page so it doesn’t matter what agency (child care center) you go to, this is the rule for everyone,” she said.

Assembly Bill 273 will take effect Jan.1, 2018. The provision was co-sponsored by the Women’s Policy Institute/Women’s Foundation of…

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