Tag Archives: California budget crisis

How the Budget Cuts Have Impacted My Family

Today’s guest post is from our newly minted super hero – Ms. Angie in San Diego. Angie is a senior at UCSD and a single mother to a little girl. After years of hardship, and super-human determination, a college degree is finally in sight for her. What keeps her up at night is not celebrating her collegiate accomplishments, but her own worries of whether or not her family will be homeless before she is able to graduate. As reported in our previous post, our state is in danger of completely losing our safety net programs, including CalWORKS and Healthy Families. Read Angie’s story to learn how these program cuts will directly effect her family and countless other “little stories” in our communities.

Thank you, Angie, for the honor of sharing your story with our readers. You are AMAZING.

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Before I went back to school, I was working full time. I was working nights, for just above minimum wage. During the day I spent all of my time raising my daughter. Child care was not a financial possibility, and I can never repay my sister for watching my little girl during those long nights. Diapers were expensive, and those of us with young kids would fight over the marked down open packs of diapers. During those years I got further and further into debt, since my paycheck rarely covered basic needs. It was then that I decided to go back to school. I debated it for months, worrying about the financial impact, the emotional impact on my self esteem that I knew would suffer tremendously if I went on State Aid. Welfare. Welfare. We now call it “State Aid”, we call Food Stamps “EBT Cards”, but the ego and self-esteem destroyers remain the same. Spending hours in the offices, one line after another, waiting, waiting, waiting to be called to a window, a room. Paperwork in triplicate, documentation, documentation, fingerprinting, and all of the disdain that comes with it from the workers behind the glass, behind the partition, behind the door at the “house visits”, which are house inspections, looking into every drawer and pantry of your life.

I am currently almost done with school. I have worked part-time the entire time I was going to school, while also receiving Welfare. Even though there were many times I felt like quitting after having to take time off of either work or school to meet with a worker or fill out more paperwork, I hung in there. There were times when I thought, “This would be easier if I just quit school, got a regular job and stayed paycheck to paycheck forever. I can’t handle the constant negotiation and renegotiation to trying to figure out the right thing to say or do to make it with the Welfare office.”

But I held on, going on and off herbal and medical anti-depressants, ranting to an empty house and at the end of the month an empty fridge. I will have my BA at the end of the summer, and from that point on be able to forever take care of my family without any extra help. That is, if I can make it through these budget cuts. I dropped some of my classes over this last year because of cancer in my family. We lost two very loved and very much missed members of my family with in a year of each other. I would not wish cancer on my worst enemy. It was the most horrific thing I have ever been witness to, and to have to go through it all again so soon almost broke my spirit. I do not regret taking the time off since the precious time I spent with my Aunt and then her eldest daughter is something I could never replace. However, it has left me with no Financial Aid, and my hours at work are down to nothing.

If these budget cuts go through, my family will most likely be cut, since we have been on Welfare for a while now. Taking away CalWorks leaves us in dire straights. I cannot find a job that will work with the hours I need, and absolutely cannot afford childcare. We don’t receive a lot, only $286.00 a month in cash, but I have managed to make it stretch to keep us afloat. Without that money, we will be homeless. I do my best to make the Food Stamp money last as well, but fresh fruit and veggies are a beginning of the month luxury. It breaks my heart to hear my daughter proudly tell me that her friends were so nice to give her the extra food left over from their lunches. My guts wrench when she looks me in the eyes and says, “Pasta again mom? I don’t want to eat pasta again”, after the third or fourth time this week. The stress of the budget cuts keep me up at night, wondering if we will make it until the cuts go through. Wondering how we will survive if they actually do go through. We are borderline homeless now. Without that little bit of help…

I only need it for a few more months, but I know there are others that need more time. San Diego is a very expensive place to live, and most people have no extra money, let alone the money to move.  These cuts mean real things to real people, and this truly is the last thing we need in this economy. So many of us are barely surviving, why do you want to send us families to the streets?

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Dear Readers:  Please take a moment to share your thoughts with Ms. Angie by posting a comment below.

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CA Safety-Net Program Cuts: Tell Us Your Story!

“A society in crisis should not throw women, children, and seniors overboard first.” ~ California Assemblymember Noreen Evans

This week there does not seem to be a whole lot of media coverage regarding the Governor’s proposed program cuts. Thank you San Jose Mercury News and the Los Angeles Times for practicing real journalism and covering the story.

Are you a parent who will be directly effected IF the state’s safety-net programs CalWORKS or Healthy Families are CUT out of the budget? Please TELL US YOUR STORY by posting a comment HERE (you can post anonymously).  We want to hear REAL STORIES from REAL FAMILIES on how this will directly change your life.

Per California Assemblymember Noreen Evans’ budget blog, here is a partial list of services that will be effected should the cuts happen:

· Elimination of the CalWORKs program;
· Elimination of the Healthy Families Program;
· Eliminating certain Medi-Cal state-only programs;
· Elimination of community based services programs at the Department of Aging;
· Eliminate State funding for Community Care Licensing;
· Elimination of remaining General Fund for Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health;
· Elimination of funding for community clinic programs, such as Rural Health Services and the Seasonal and Agricultural and Migratory work programs;
· Elimination of funding for drug treatment programs established by the voters through Proposition 36;
· Reducing in-home supportive services eligibility and care provider pay;
· Reducing funding for foster care rates; and
· Reducing SSI/SSP monthly payments benefiting the aged and disabled to the minimum allowed under federal law.

Dear readers, please forward this post to anyone who may want to share their story.

Chop-Chop, California

Updated 10:00pm 5/27/09: MUST READ on budget cuts to health and human services: check out the blog of Assemblymember Noreen Evans, Chair of California Budget Conference Committee.

Today, while some of us will be changing diapers for California’s next generation of voters,  some of our legislators in Sacramento will be holding a hearing that will weigh in heavily on the future of California’s most vulnerable children and families.  What’s the scoop?

Just yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger officially proposed to eliminate a bunch of state funded programs. On the chopping block include programs CalWORKS and Healthy Families.

According to their website, CalWORKS helps able bodied parents with children gain employment:

The CalWORKs program provides temporary financial assistance and employment focused services to families with minor children who have income and property below State maximum limits for their family size. Most able-bodied aided parents are also required to participate in the CalWORKs GAIN employment services program.

CalWORKS advocates argue that eliminating this program would send more of California’s vulnerable families out onto the street (Read: INCREASE of family homelessness).

California’s Healthy Families Program :

Healthy Families is low cost insurance for children and teens.
It provides health, dental and vision coverage to children who
do not have insurance and do not qualify for free Medi-Cal.

According to this fact sheet, nearly 1 million California children would LOSE health insurance if the Healthy Families program were eliminated (READ: MORE children slipping through the healthcare system’s cracks).

Here is a GREAT article in the Los Angeles Times that puts a FACE and REAL LIFE stories to the Healthy Families program.

The legislative Budget Conference Committee (including members of the state Senate and Assembly) will be holding a public hearing on these proposed program cuts. Hopefully, they will be talking LONG and HARD about the long term impact such program cuts would have on family homelessness and child welfare in California.

What can YOU do to help?

  1. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS:  Tell them you are VERY concerned about the immediate and long term impact eliminating CalWORKS and Healthy Families will have on family homelessness and child welfare. Click here to find out who your representatives are.
  2. CONTACT THE GOVERNOR:  Click here for Governor Schwarzenegger’s contact information.
  3. SPREAD THE WORD:  Blog about it, Tweet it, or Facebook this action item to your network.

Below is a list of legislators who are on the budget conference committee. If you reside in these cities, please take some time out of your day to contact your representative.

Assemblymember Noreen Evans (Democrat – Santa Rosa) – Chair

Assemblymember Kevin de León (Democrat – Los Angeles)

Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield (Democrat – Woodland Hills)

Assemblymember Roger Niello (Republican – Fair Oaks)

Assemblymember Jim Nielsen (Republican – Gerber)

Senator Denise Ducheny (Democrat – San Diego)

Senator Mark Leno (Democrat – San Francisco)

Senator Alan Lowenthal (Democrat – Long Beach)

Senator Bob Dutton (Republican – Rancho Cucamonga)

Senator Mimi Walters (Republican – Laguna Hills)

Please help us continue the dialogue by posting your comments below. We especially welcome those of you who work with families vulnerable to these program cuts.