Newsom redirects $200M to child care, food banks after legislative dispute

By Mackenzie Mays

10/20/2020 07:29 PM EDT Updated: 10/20/2020 07:35 PM EDT

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom has redirected $200 million in federal coronavirus relief to assist child care providers and food banks after frustrated state lawmakers demanded more say in how the money is spent.

The reallocation of the funding this week represents a compromise between the governor and the Legislature, after the Joint Legislative Budget Committee scolded Newsom for a lack of legislative involvement regarding federal CARES Act funds he directed toward his Project Homekey program.

In a letter to the governor on Oct. 7, Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) voiced concern about an additional allocation of $200 million from the state’s coronavirus relief fund for the initiative, which aims to house the homeless through hotels, motels and other vacant properties. The Legislature had already approved $550 million for the program.

“Had the Legislature known that there was $200 million in funding available to respond to the pandemic, in addition to addressing homelessness, we may have identified some other funding priorities,” Mitchell said in the letter to the governor’s Finance Department.

Mitchell said she would approve of the additional funding if the governor allowed an equal $200 million to go toward legislative priorities including for child care providers, emergency food relief and diaper banks.

A Monday letter from Newsom’s Department of Finance appears to meet those demands.

Where the money goes: In its memo, the Department of Finance notified the Joint Legislative Budget Committee that $110 million in funding the state received as part of the federal CARES Act approved in March will augment state-subsidized child care provider contracts.

That includes covering family fees that providers typically receive for care but were forced to absorb because the state issued waivers for lower-income families who are now keeping their children home because of distance learning accommodations, quarantining needs or temporary daycare closures due to the pandemic.

The state was looking to $30 million in hypothetical aid from a federal stimulus deal that has yet to materialize, putting child care workers on edge given the status of Washington talks, but Monday’s decision provides a solution.

The remaining bulk of that $110 million will go to increase provider contracts and to allow access for more children of essential workers.

“Child care providers have been serving substantially more school-age children in subsidized childcare programs than anticipated due to the closure of public schools statewide. This has resulted in a shortfall of funds for many providers, leading some to consider terminating care for children of essential workers with temporary slots to avoid overspending their state contract allocation,” states the Department of Finance letter.page1image35779520page1image35772416page1image35774528page1image35766464

In addition, up to $90 million in federal coronavirus relief will help supplement food and diaper supplies for California families. Of the $90 million requested, $15 million will be dedicated for diapers and $75 million will support emergency food assistance.

What’s next: All federal pandemic relief must be spent and services delivered by December 30. Child Care Providers United praised Newsom’s reallocation but called for more “permanent economic

protections” for child care providers.

“Over the last month, thousands of providers staged protests across the state to bring attention to a child care system in crisis. We’re glad the state appears to have listened and has decided to cover family fees instead of levying a tax against providers, most of whom are women of color,” Max Arias, chairperson for Child Care Providers United, said in a statement.

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin

Share This Post

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore