First 5 LA contributes $15M to child care services

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The First 5 Los Angeles Commission voted today to contribute up to $15 million to statewide child care services facing cutbacks after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent veto of child care funding.

First 5 funding goes to improve the health and welfare of California children from low-income families. The commission that oversees L.A. County’s First 5 money announced today it will contribute $15 million to help pay for childcare for parents getting off welfare.

Earlier this month, Governor Schwarzenegger took $256 million from California’s childcare subsidy program and used it to beef up the state’s cash reserves. Democratic leaders vowed to restore the childcare money when a new governor takes over.

In the meantime, Assembly Speaker John Perez asked First 5 commissions in all 58 counties to provide stop-gap funding. The LA. Democrat says without it, as many as 60,000 families in California could lose childcare - 11,000 in L.A. County alone.

Perez also pledged $6 million from the Assembly’s budget. He says the stopgap funding will keep childcare centers open.

“The governor's veto of child care funding means thousands of Californians could lose their jobs and thousands of children could lose their safe, educational child care," Pérez said.

It is estimated the Assembly's $6-million contribution would keep the statewide program going for about a week. The $15 million from First 5 L.A. will pay for child care services for about 7,000 children in L.A. County for three months.

"The Assembly will keep working with other local First 5 Commissions, the State First 5 Commission and other concerned groups to obtain additional funding until we can send legislation to the new governor that restores the money for this vital program," Perez said.

The state First 5 commission and the state's 58 counties receive about $480 million annually from a 50-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes that voters approved in 1998