Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Phone Action for July 9th, 2009 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

ATTENTION Community Voices Parent / Provider Community:

Phone Action on Thursday, July 9th, 2009
From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

Here is an opportunity to take action regarding the State Budget Cuts without having to leave work!
Stop and take the time to read the attached flyer then…

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: Phone: (916) 445-2841

Be sure to make your call anytime between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.
Encourage your friends, family and parents to call too!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Community Voices and the Governor

Hey hey hey.

Summer is still in full swing and so is Community Voices.

On July 9th, Community Voices and Children's Defense Fund worked to close down the state's switchboard to demand that the Governor and the Legislature sign a decent budget and now. Thousands of folks called in. I know. That is amazing! And while the budget still has not been signed, we know that the word is out to get this thing over with.

Of course, now the latest is to focus on the fact that the state workers will be laid off or will have to take pay cuts until the budget is signed. I have to say that I am really pissy about this because the cuts that they are talking about would still leave many state employees making more than our parents and providers and state employees have access to resources (like credit unions, etc.) and state workers will get reimbursed by the state once this blows over. Our people don't have those luxuries. But I digress......

If you want to get upset, check out this article on how the state is playing the state on this media matter. Uh, how many of us are living on this already?????

Well, there was a statewide call to action to call the legislature on the 30th to talk (again) about this budget deadlock madness. But you know we at Community Voices did one better. We met with the Governor down here in Los Angeles.

We met with on of the Governor's Senior Policy staff folks and talked about the issue. Who we are (meaning Community Voices), our various stories:

  • Louis Wright talked about not being able to qualify for child care subsidies because he makes $48 over the limit (talk about someone being impacted by the SMI being frozen at too low levels).
  • Mike Alley and his wife talked about struggling to pay the bills while only one of them is working and needing other programs (food pantry) and not being able to afford child care. Ahem. Mike is taking care of the children and they could not even afford child care in order to make the meeting. Ahem.
  • Jackie Fowler talked about being a licensed provider who takes care of 14 little ones. She presented pictures created by her little ones to the Governor's people and shared the story about how the last image was done by a child who will no longer be at the center because her mom has gone into $2300 debt trying to pay for child care ever since she got married and no longer qualified for subsidized care. Ouch!!!
  • Kim Schaaf talked about using child care services over 20 years ago and testified that is because of the service that she was able to go back to school, climb the employment ladder, and get her son ready for school (he's now in college). So there!!!

We heard the party line about the budget, the infighting, the Governor's proposal, etc. We ended on some high notes. And before I talk about the high notes, I want to say that the reason why we ended on the high notes is because we have some jammin', slammin' Community Voices members who were persistent in their questions and responses and demands and would settle for no less than some commitments.

So, now for the high notes:
1. We have another meeting scheduled with folks in the Governor's office and the Department of Finance to talk about how to keep money into our child care funding "bank".
2. We also got a commitment from the Governor's office to tour our sites and meet more of our members.

So, not bad for the first meeting!!!!!

On another note, we have been working with the Equal Voice Campaign to gear up for their September convention. Here is a link. We are working to see how to get our folks registered because we NEED TO BE THERE!!!!!! I have heard from folks from across the state who have been saying, "I heard that CV will be at the convention." "I heard that over 200 of your folks have signed up to go." So word about CV is spreading already!!! Let's keep the fire lit. Let's gets prepared for the follow-up with the Governor.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wednesday, July 9th is C-Day!!!!!

The Budget Call-in Day!!!

Push Senators to Step Up and Protect Children tomorrow!

In the next couple of weeks, the California state Senate must decide on proposed cuts to the state budget.

The current proposal puts millions of children at risk of losing their health coverage, cash assistance, foster youth services, and quality child care. The state Senators must hear from you that the budget deficit cannot be closed by cutting children's programs. A real budget solution must include new revenue to protect all of California's children. Wednesday July 9th, Children's Defense Fund-California, Community Voices and other organizations throughout the state are asking Californians to step up for children and make their voices heard by calling their senator and asking that children be protected and prioritized in this budget cycle.

Your call will only take 5 minutes but could be the difference in the lives of California children.

On Wednesday, all you have to do is call

Ask the Secretary of the Senate to connect you to your senator's office. Be sure to tell your senator:
1. Hello, my name is ______________ and I live in Senator __________ district.
2. I am calling to oppose a "cuts-only" budget that jeopardizes the health and well-being of California's neediest children.
3. All children must be protected and prioritized in this budget cycle. What's good for all children is good for all Californians.
4. I support a balanced solution that includes finding new revenue streams.
5. I expect Senator _________ to stand strong for children, and oppose all cuts to vital children's programs and services.
6. Thank you for listening and passing this message on to the Senator.

Senators need to hear that their constituents do not support cuts to children's programs. Spread the word; let's makes our voices heard!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Welcome to Community Voices

We just sent out our July email. It welcomes the close to thirty new members who have joined on with us.

The emails usually come out once a month, but we have other ways of communicating and staying in the loop. Like this blog/website.....

Community Voices is on the WEB!!
Community Voices has chapters throughout Los Angeles County. As you know, the county is pretty big. So one way we stay connected is through the web. Below are two links for you to click on and save in your FAVORITES. These will help you stay connected with other Community members across Los Angeles.

Community Voices Yahoo Groups - PLEASE JOIN!

Community Voices website/blog - PLEASE VISIT. Oh If you are reading this, then you are already here.

These two sites are where information will be placed on upcoming CV events.

They are also places where we can chat with each other, share ideas, and support each other as we all work together for children and working poor families.

Upcoming Community Voices Activities

In May, 70 CV members went to Sacramento to rally against the budget cuts. Our members marched, spoke before a crowd of hundreds and held a town hall meeting with local legislative offices. But we have more work to do.

Below is a listing of upcoming events we are working on. What are your thoughts? Do you want to participate?
Do you have ideas as well? PLEASE SHARE!!!
  1. Schedule a meeting with the Governor to talk about the cuts to child care and families.
  2. Schedule a meeting with the two candidates running for the 2nd Los Angeles County Supervisorial District seat to find out their positions on child care and how we can work together to keep more money in Los Angeles to help the 22,000 families who are eligible for child care support but can't get it because of the state's funding formulas.
  3. Schedule a meeting with the Mayor to talk about child care, working families, immigration and more.
  4. Hold a Rock the Vote event in the fall: to register voters, talk about community issues, get to know the Community Voices members from other chapters and work on next year.

What do you think? Let us know......

The Equal Voice Campaign (EVC) is a national campaign designed to bring working families together to develop a national platform for working families. This means the people decide the issues that mean the most to the people. And then share that with the nation in an effort to get the politicians talking about the issues that impact us the most.

The war is bad, but so is not having enough gas in your tank or food on your table.

The EVC will be hosting a conference in Los Angeles in September. Community Voices has been asked to attend. Do you want to go?

Click here to find out more about the campaign.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Crystal Stairs chapter work

Last night the Crystal Stairs chapter met. Parents talked about the Stand For Children event and plans for the summer.

It looks like Community Voices is thinking about trying to meet with the Department of Finance, the Child Development Division of the California Department of Education, the two candidates running for the open 2nd Los Angeles County Supervisorial District seat, and the Governor.

Rockin' it out!!!!

CCFS Chapter work - We're Rocking it OUT!!!!

We had an open forum night on June 12th where we spoke on the budget issues & the effects on our children. We also had a letter writing effort. Parents also learned about the “Little Things” that be done to help:

· knowing who the senate & assembly are in our communities
· sending letters, phone calls (also passed on the 1-800# you e-mailed), visiting offices
· voting
· pts were also interested in The Gov’s office in LA
· getting & staying involved with orgs like CV (the long term goals-Children)
· Spreading the word to friends, neighbors, etc.

We mailed out the letters and I am happy to say that one parent, the most timid, had a lot to say in her letters.

Yeah CCFS!!

Bernie Sanders is our Hero!

Bernie Sanders (I), is a senator from Vermont. Some time ago he invited his constituents to share their stories with him regarding how they were dealing in these tough economic times. They were so devastating and honest that he turned them into a document and has shared them with the rest of the nation. Please click on this link to read the stories.

Many of the stories are very similar to what we are dealing with as Community Voices organizers and members! This is why the movement is so very important.

New Community Voices Portal

Community Voices has this blogspot. We are happy to have this tool for spreading the word and sharing our work, efforts, successes and our "what's next".

We also have a yahoo.groups site. So check it out as well and join us. The bigger the movement, the bigger our voice.

Call-in Day to the Governor

Community Voices is working feverishly to secure a toll free number to have a Call-in day on July 9th. We are working with the California office of the Children's Defense Fund on this and the hope is that we can shut down the switchboard in Sacramento through our efforts.

Of course, the only way to do this is to spread the word and get ready for the 9th. We need to tell everyone we know to get ready for the 9th. It is that important. If the Governor does not know that child care is an issue, then he is not going to push the legislature to get him a budget.

And really, it is pushing the republicans to understand that they can not kill people because of their fundamental belief that the rich and the businesses should not pay taxes. C'mon.

Stay tuned.......

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Call-in Dates.....Take your story to the Capitol

June 15th of every year is the constitutional deadline for the legislature to have a state budget passed and placed on the Governor's desk for his/her signature by July 1st - the start of the next fiscal year.

Well, Community Voices knows that this is not happening because the state is multi billions of dollars in debt and the Governor and the Republicans are trying to decimate social service programs and basically kill working poor families. Well, kill is a harsh word, but at least starve them to death, keep them from working better jobs or getting ahead, make them pay a progressively larger anount of taxes, and kick them and their children off of various health care programs. So, maybe kill is harsh, but dehumanize is definitely apt.

So, what do we need to do. Call, call, call the capitol. Here's how.

Community Call-In Day
to Stop the State Budget Cuts!
Call Toll-Free to your Assemblymember and Senator:

Thanks to the California Teachers Association (CTA), we have this free phone number to call our representatives and let them know that we need more budget choices, not just budget cuts! The Governor's proposed budget cuts would mean the loss and reduction of crucial services and jobs for all Californians. But a cuts-only approach isn't the right way to solve the state's budget problems. We need a more balanced solution that guarantees that everyone pays their fair share. By taking care of our children, families, seniors and workers, we are investing in a better California for all of us!

Community Call-In Day is Friday, June 13th!
Call 888-268-4334

Individuals and community groups should call in on this day to show the power of our communities. Get out this number to your members, families and neighbors so that we can get a flood of calls into the Legislature!

Tell your Assemblymember and Senator:
"My name is ______________ and I live in (your town).
I'm calling to let you know that cuts to human services and education will hurt (my family, my neighborhood). This is because (examples: my children go to public school; I use the community clinic in my neighborhood; CalWORK helps me put food on the table for my family).
California needs more than a cuts-only approach to fixing the state budget."

Call 888-268-4334 on Friday, June 13th to Deliver the Message: Stop the Cuts!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Finding the flexibility to survive

Last night while I was entering in my other blog, I happened to catch the following "article" on the radio. It was so moving that I thought I wanted to share. I also had to think to myself: how many families are out there with this same story? How many of our own families in Community Voices are facing these same realities?

The transcript:
Every Friday night the cashier at the Chevron gas station food mart on Eagle Rock Boulevard and Avenue 40 offers us a discount on all the leftover apples and bananas. To ensure the best selection possible, my mother and I pile into our 20-year-old car and pull up to the food mart at 5 p.m. on the dot, ready to get our share of slightly overripe fruits.

Before the times of the Chevron food mart, there were the times of the calculator. My mother would carefully prop it up in the cart's child seat and frown as she entered each price. Since the first days of the calculator's appearance, the worry lines on my mother's face have only grown deeper. Today, they are a permanent fixture.

Chevron shopping started like this: One day my mother suddenly realized that she had maxed out almost every credit card, and we needed groceries for the week. The only credit card she hadn't maxed out was the Chevron card, and the station on Eagle Rock Boulevard has a pretty big mart attached to it.

Since our first visit there, I've learned to believe in flexibility. In my life, it has become necessary to bend the idea of grocery shopping. My mother and I can no longer shop at real grocery stores, but we still get the necessities.

Grocery shopping at Chevron has its drawbacks. The worst is when we have so many items that it takes the checker what seems like hours to ring up everything. A line of anxious customers forms behind us. It's that line that hurts the most — the way they look at us. My mother never notices — or maybe she pretends not to.

I never need to be asked to help the checker bag all the items. No one wants to get out of there faster than I do. I'm embarrassed to shop there, and I'm deathly afraid of running into someone I know. I once expressed my fear of being seen shopping at Chevron to my mother and her eyes shone with disappointment. I know that I hurt her feelings when I try to evade our weekly shopping trips.

And that is why I hold on to the idea of flexibility so tightly. I believe that being flexible keeps me going — keeps me from being ashamed of the way my family is different from other families. Whenever I feel the heat rise to my face, I remind myself that grocery shopping at a gas station is just a twist on the normal kind of grocery shopping. I remind myself that we won't always have to shop at Chevron — that just because at this point in my life I am struggling does not mean that I will always struggle. My belief in flexibility helps me get through the difficult times because I know that no matter what happens, my mother and I will always figure out a way to survive.

Independently produced for All Things Considered by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tuesday May 27, 2008 at the State Capitol

On Tuesday, Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 on Health & Human Services, under the chairmanship of Patty Berg, heard issues relevant to child care. This was an important hearing because the role of the committee is to review the Governor's budget proposals (as submitted through the Department of Finance) and to decide if these proposals are do-able, honest and good for the state of California and its residents.

Obviously, the state of California is in financial disarray. If the state were a person, it would be talking to a credit counselor right now; it would be cutting up its credit cards, staying out of the mall and looking for a second job. It would be trying to find more tips for lowering its expenses and increasing its revenues. It would not be tyring to get a bus ticket to Vegas or Atlantic City in hopes of winning big to pay off its debt. Anyway.....

Patty Berg chaired the committee hearing on three major issues:

  1. Funding Stage 2 CalWORKs Child Care
  2. The Regional Market Rate (RMR)
  3. The Family Fee Schedule

A primer on the issues:

Stage 2 Child Care is the second phase of the child care subsidy path designed to move families off of welfare and into the workforce. Once families enter Stage 2, they are closer to finishing the path to economic self-sufficiency. Across the state, Stage 2 numbers have been increasing, as families really try and work to get on their feet.

The RMR is the payment schedule for child care providers. The rates are based on hours of care, county and demographics, and type of care provided. When rates go up, child care providers are able to offer care, earn a living wage and run a competitive business. When rates go down, child care providers have to make decisions about how to stay open - sometimes this means raising rates for parents, sometimes this means cutting services.

The family fee schedule is the payment schedule for families. It lays out how much families pay, and when they start to pay based on their income.

So, what happened at the hearing???

The committee voted to reject the Governor’s Proposal to Cut Child Care by 6.4%-----this means that they voted against cutting the 18,000 existing child care slots!!!

The committee voted to support an increase of $16.4 million to fully fund Stage 2!!!---many child care agencies had to stop enrolling families in Stage 2 because they didn’t have enough $$$. This $$$ will meet the current year needs.

The committee voted to reject the Governor’s Proposal to reduce the Regional Market Rate to 75%-----if the subcommittee had supported this proposal, some child care centers would have to close because they couldn't’t afford to serve families with child care subsidies. If centers stayed open, it could have made family/parent co-payments go up!!!

The committee voted to support the freeze to the State Median Income for 2008-09 but will ensure that any new fee schedule will not charge fees to families who make below 40% of SMI!!!

· In the May Revise, Dept of Finance wanted to lower the % of when fees begin and the Dept of Education said absolutely not!

· While this is a bitter pill for working poor families and advocates to swallow, it is important to think about the big picture. The big picture goes back to beginning of this post and the credit counseling analogy: the state is facing a $17 Billion deficit, so many other social services might get cut.

There is much work ahead. There are more hearings scheduled and we need to stay informed about what is ahead of us and how we can impact some change. As this Newsweek article shows, there are some other states in a pickle, although thanks to the Terminator, we are in probably the worst predictament.

Once again, it is probably important to recognize a few materials out there that really speak to the issues faced by Community Voices members

Waging a Living is a very good documentary that follows the lives of four families struggling to pay for child care and survive. If you can watch the trailer here, please click. The production also convened a group of experts to talk about the obstacles working poor families face. Read the transcripts.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Final thoughts...

Kim Schaaf from Options shared her story as "closing thoughts". She was a single parent who was close to needing welfare (help) and received child care subsidies. That allowed her to get on her feet, go back to school, get a degree and a job. Now she is the Resource and Referral manager at Options and she has a beautiful son who is in college.

That is the story that we all want to hear and know that we can hear if we have help and supports. No one is asking for a hand-out. We just don't want to be disregarded. The state of California is mandated to help cover the costs of child care for working poor families transitioning off of welfare and into the work force. The state should also responsibly try and support working poor families who have never been on aid but need some help. People like to think of these families as lazy and undeserving. They are just the opposite. They are parents who have one, two, three jobs and who are struggling - not to buy a Bentley, but to buy bread and milk and shoes and jackets and books for their children. they want to work and they want to be a role model. They also, like many of us from time to time, need some help. And that is why we pay taxes - to help those who are less fortunate in order to get them where they need to be so that they can give back. And yet we are once again fighting to keep the Governor from kicking poor people (the majority of whom are children) off just about every kind of imaginable social service/health/education program there is. disgusting!!!

What is next for Community Voices? More meetings down in Los Angeles, maybe a rally or two. We need to keep this bus moving!!!

Last posting on Sacramento.....

Parent Mike from Options talking about the challenges of trying to afford child care. Now, many families are having to reach out to food banks for help. The sluggish economy and the state deficit have made it hard for working class families to survive. There was not a dry eye in the house after his plea for sanity around balancing the budget with dignity and respect for working families..... Another parent from Options shares her story.
Parent Baron Littleton from L.A. asks why we are not considering raising taxes, why $12 Billion a month is going to Iraq while families and children struggle....good questions...
Assembly member Betty Karnette dropped by to share some thoughts. She was impressed with the turnout and asked everyone to make calls to their politicians....republicans need to know these cuts will kill families, the public needs to know the Budget Stabilization Act is a sham, the media needs to know that closing corporate loop holes is not a bad thing.....
Afterwards, the legislative staff began to offer some suggestions. At the end of the day, it was a dialogue on what we all can and need to do, how do we work together, what do we do after this event and how do we make a difference....

And more.....

After lunch and after the speeches, the group went inside the Capitol for their town-hall meeting. The meeting was designed as an opportunity for Los Angeles-county legislators and their staff to hear from parents and providers and the issues of child care, child development, and family economic success. One of the organizers prep the legislative staff on the town hall meeting.
Staffers introduced themselves to the audience of parents and providers.
Parent Brianne Harvey talked about the challenges of trying to afford child care while "making it".
Parent Louis Wright and Crystal Stairs CEO Holly J. Mitchell talked about the pressures of paying for quality child care. Louis questioned if the staffers really understood the pain of having to take your child to work because of the inability to pay for child care.
Parents listening to the responses.
Earlier in the day, Parent Louis Wright spoke to the crowd. He was passionate, eloquent and to the point. Our children are our priority and we will accept nothing less from our politicians.

More on the trip to Sacramento...

Families listening to the speakers and getting "pumped up". More little people...
The signs say it all...

Community Voices goes to Sacramento

The following is a photo montage of Community Voices going to Sacramento. On May 7th, the group went to fight against the Governor's cuts to child care. Folks drove up the night before or got up super early to catch planes to take them to Sacramento. Families walking from Westminster Presbyterian Church to the Capitol.
More marching, more signs, more families...
More and more....
We finally get to the steps of the Capitol.
Even the babies are against the cuts.