Current Child Care issues and Legislation
The Sacramento Bee featured Sue Sparks, President of the Sacramento Family Child Care Association
and Child Care Providers United (CCPU) member, in Saturday, May 9, article on the 1D Ballot measure. Reporters were covering the CCPU May 4th Lobby Day event at the Capitol. The Sacramento Bee wanted
to know how Sacramento family child care and the families they serve would be impacted by the measure.
Sue spoke on the phone with the reporter and she and Mike allowed a photographer in their
home to photograph their child care home. Sue and Mike were particularly busy that day preparing for the Association's Annual
Buffet dinner that night. But they did it to give family child care some long overdue visibility and a public voice.
Gerika Parcon and Marilyn Gibson, Sacramento providers and CCPU members, who were at
the Capitol lobbying to protect child care for working families and to improve the child care system also spoke to reporters.
Although they weren’t directly quoted, they gave the reporter valuable facts for the article.
Jeanlina Austin, another provider from Sacramento, was inside the Capitol talking to legislators’
aides. Although it was a financial sacrifice for Jeanlina and the other providers
to go to the Capitol, (Jeanlina lost a client that day) she said she’s going to do it again. “I have to speak with decision makers, face to face, or I can’t complain when things aren’t
Prior to the CCPU Lobby Day, Janne Day from North Highlands, testified at the Assemly Education
committee in support of AB 315, a CCPU sponsored bill, that would fix existing problems with the child care subsidy payment
Hats off to Sue, Gerika, Marilyn, Jeanlina and Janne for their courage and determination
to speak out on behalf of family child care providers, children, and working families.
California Props. 1D, 1E would
divert child, health funds
Published Saturday, May. 09, 2009
One in a series of stories explaining the measures on the May 19 special election ballot
Child care worker Sue Sparks was too busy minding a tiny charge at her home in
Sacramento to join a recent protest against potential cuts to her profession.
"I need you to sit down, and if you don't like your carrots, just leave them," she said.
But Sparks made it clear she was just as upset as those publicly objecting to Proposition 1D
and other May 19 special ballot measures.
Proposition 1D and a set of five other measures were hatched in February when the pressure
of an unprecedented state budget deficit led California's top legislators and the governor to
strike a deal.
Part of that deal, along with cuts and new taxes, involves turning again to California's ballot
measure system to solve the mess – and in the process undoing measures of the past.
This time, voters must decide whether to divert money from locally controlled social
programs that they created to state services for children.
If they agree, Proposition 1D would take money from local preschool funds, which in
Sacramento provide small subsidies for Sparks' child care center. Proposition 1E would tap
into dollars for communities' mental health services.
A previous measure, Proposition 10 of 1998, imposed a 50-cent tax on cigarettes to finance
early childhood development, 80 percent of it at the discretion of 58 county "First Five"
commissions. The state will collect an estimated $500 million next fiscal year.
Proposition 1D is targeting about $2.5 billion in unspent revenue sitting in the coffers of First
Five commissions, who argue that the money is earmarked for long-range plans.
Proposition 1E is targeting money collected under another voter-approved measure,
California Props. 1D, 1E would divert child, health funds - Sacramento Politics - Californ... Page 1 of 3
Proposition 63 of 2004, which imposed a 1 percent tax on Californians earning more than $1
million to help pay for local mental health services. Annual revenue has ranged from $900
million to $1.5 billion.
Supporters say the need for local services dates back 40 years, when state mental hospitals
were closed during Ronald Reagan's governorship.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, was a proud author of
Proposition 63, and says he remains committed to improving mental health services. Yet
Steinberg finds himself up against a wall of opposition from people he usually counts as
allies: social workers and mental health activists.
"I hate this choice. I didn't make this choice with any happiness," Steinberg said of his
decision to back Propositions 1D and 1E.
But if voters decline to divert the childhood development money, he said, it could mean
dropping state cash aid for 98,000 poor children.
The propositions were the brainchild of legislative Republicans, who argued that tapping the
local money made more sense than raising taxes.
As a leader, Steinberg said he felt compelled to place programs he supports on the table
during negotiations, which also resulted in tax increases.
"Given his commitment to mental health, it must have been incredibly painful for Steinberg
to do that," said Tim Hodson, executive director of the Center for California Studies at
California State University, Sacramento.
Voters also must reflect on their tendency to vote, by ballot initiative, for programs that lock
in funding, Hodson said.
The ballot battle has given Republicans long skeptical of First Five spending a chance to push
for voters to let legislators seize money they think is wasted. Supporters of First Five counter
that critics never supported the tax, and now want to grab the money from local
The First Five commissions are charged with financing early educational activities, with an
emphasis on low-income children, who often start kindergarten with fewer skills.
"The Proposition 1D funds are some of the most cost-effective spending there is," said Moira
Kenney, statewide programs director of the First Five Association.
Testing already shows that third-grade reading scores of kids who benefited from First Fivefunded
programs are higher than others, she said.
Proposition 1D would tap into First Five's $2.5 billion reserve, moving up to $608 million to
the state this fiscal year, and $268 million annually for the next four years. The transfer
would help pay for state health and human services programs for children ages 5 and under.
Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, a Proposition 1D supporter, is one of the First Five commissions'
ardent critics. Too often, he says, commissions spend the money unwisely.
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Low-income kids could benefit more, he said, if the state used the money to pay for their
health care rather than for what he characterized as "yoga in Mendocino," book clubs,
singing circles and Italian classes.
Kenney acknowledged that some commissions have come under fire for frivolous spending
on staff, and for financing affluent parents' camping trips or parties.
Official audits and grand jury reports have detailed questionable spending, and point out that
First Five isn't subject to the same oversight as state spending.
The commissions approved turning over up to $16.75 million last year to help pay premiums
for California's Healthy Families health insurance program for children, Kenney said, adding
reforms in some counties have stopped spending that didn't match the spirit of the 1998
Sparks doesn't consider what First Five has given her frivolous. She has received stipends for
play equipment and arts and crafts supplies.
First Five offers stipends to providers who upgrade their skills with college courses and
incorporate educational activities into child care.
Proposition 1E, the mental health initiative, also would temporarily shift to the state what is
collected under the tax on millionaires. The measure would transfer $226.7 million next fiscal
year and up to $234 million in 2010-11 to pay for federally mandated state mental health
services for children 18 and younger.
Counties are the main providers of mental health services for California's uninsured.
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, state and local costs for homeless
shelters, social programs, medical care, law enforcement and incarceration could increase if
Proposition 1E passes.
The No on Prop. 1D and 1E campaign has raised more than $676,000, including a $150,000
loan from director Rob Reiner, who spearheaded Proposition 10.
Dave Fratello, campaign manager of No on Prop. 1D and 1E, thinks Steinberg agreed to
putting 1E on the ballot because it was "politically necessary" to get Republican votes for tax
hikes. But Fratello doesn't buy that legislators are out of options. He cited the possibility of
raising taxes on oil companies and alcohol sales.
Julie Soderlund, spokeswoman for the pro-ballot measure group Budget Reform Now,
suggested activists seriously consider Steinberg's reasons for backing propositions.
"A child without proper medical care," she said, "won't be able to make the best use of
Call Susan Ferriss, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1267.
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CHILD DEVELOPMENT PUBLIC POLICY