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October 10, 2003

For More Information, Contact:
Daryl Savage at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that the Governor signed Assembly Bill 1326, which establishes the San Mateo County Child Care Subsidy Pilot Project, a first of its kind program designed to give counties more flexibility in providing subsidized child care.  “The problem with state-subsidized child care is that one size doesn’t fit all, especially when it comes to high cost areas like ours,” said Simitian.

“The existing program fails our families on at least two levels,” said Simitian. “Using the State’s income-eligibility standards, we have very low income families who are nonetheless deemed to be too prosperous to qualify for state child care assistance. Worse still, State reimbursement rates allow child care providers to recover only a fraction of their costs. So the more kids they serve, the more money they lose.”

“The result of all this,” says Simitian, “is that too many of our families can’t qualify, we’re sending money we need but can’t use back to the State, and we’re losing more and more child care slots with every passing day. It’s clearly time for a different approach.”

AB 1326 authorizes the Local Planning Council of San Mateo County to create a San Mateo County child care subsidy plan that would permit waivers of state-specific rules regarding income eligibility, reimbursement rates, and parent fees for a 5-year pilot project. San Mateo County will be the first and only County in the State allowed to develop its own program and criteria.

Under the current rules whereby families “income-out” of child care subsidy at 75% of state median income, San Mateo County families lose child care assistance when they are still earning barely enough to pay their housing costs, much less cover child care costs. That’s because 75% of State Median Income is approximately 43% of County Median Income. The existing rule keeps parents from applying for better paying jobs, accepting promotions and pay raises, improving the standard of living for their families, and achieving self-sufficiency.

“It’s been a terrible quandary,” said Jan Stokley, Executive Director of the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. “Parents who were barely able to afford their rent were being turned away. Child care providers were going out of business. It was obvious we needed a change. Thanks to Joe, we now have the flexibility to offer help in a way that works for our county’s families.”

“I’m delighted to see that, as a community, we now have the means to provide quality child care for our families in need,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Mark Church. “We desperately needed a fix to the system. This bill gives us the ability to better meet the needs of our community.”

AB 1326 does not require additional funding from the State. Instead, the County will continue to receive the same level of funding, but will have the flexibility to use those funds more effectively. The County will submit an annual report summarizing the results of the pilot program to the Legislature, the Department of Social Services and the State Department of Education. By the end of the first complete fiscal year, the pilot must show an increase in enrollment over the level of the final quarter of the 2002-03 fiscal year.