Representing the Struggling Ones
By Regina Range
As a Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee (SHOC) Steering Committee member, on January 11, 2013, I served as a panelist on the State budget along with Health and Human Services Network of California, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Health Access, California Partnership and California Immigrant Policy Center.

When I received the phone call from California Partnership asking me to be a panelist. I was at first excited – not really knowing where my story would start but so frustrated because I have lived the life of poverty, low-income, on welfare. And all I wanted to do was walk in the State Capital with my head up and speak and let the people know the need for change and feel how urgent it is.
I spoke on the needs of the low income and homeless families who receive CalWorks grants and Child Care funding. These grants are minimal – my daughter receives $490 for herself and her child. I’m a single mother who raised four children on what is now CalWorks. Also now I am a grandmother of eight children receiving aid. It hurts so much to see the services being cut and knowing my grandchildren – and so many other infants and tiny children -- are the ones that are being cheated out of what is needed to help their parents maintain a hopeful and stabilizing life for their families.

For the first time since 2005-6, this year the Cal Works budget does restore 146 million for Cal Works Welfare to Work Services. This covers the County Work Experience Program for 24-32 hours per week, which the mom or dad is required to attend, without pay, to keep their benefits.
But this year there is no restorations for assistance grants or cost of living adjustments. Also there are no restorations of the “Stage 3” funding for child care. So basically that means parents who are “timing off” CalWorks after 24 months of benefits will have almost no chance at child care. My daughter who is now 22 with a 1 year old son has to work part time and attend college full time and keep a decent grade average to receive a maximum amount of child care -- $422 a month for full time care. There is no way she can achieve her goals unless there is someone who has time and compassion to accept the low payment for care.

The next issue on the plate of poverty is to challenge Maximum Family Grant (MFG). The Maximum Family Grant stipulates that the maximum aid payment (MAP) will not be increased for any second child born into a family after September 1, 1997. The government has no business telling women how many children they can or are allowed to produce. All women regardless of race, creed or color were born with a reproductive system, so who had the right to make a law that restricts that – for low income women only.

While the budget reflects the beginning of an economic recovery, it will take years to rebuild a safety net that protects and serves All of California’s homeless and low-income residents. That’s why it is important to attend the budget hearings at the State Capitol and let our officials know this is not the dream we all had. We must all keep hope alive but at the same time we have to become Leaders, Activists for our cause.