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An Alameda County Superior Court judge today blocked the elimination of funds for a welfare-to-work childcare program until the state notifies parents they can be screened for eligibility for other programs.

Judge Wynne Carvill ordered a stay on the cut until the state Department of Education issues new notices to parents that they can be screened to see if they qualify for alternative aid.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut the $256 million from the CalWORKS welfare-to-work program with a line-item veto.

The funds subsidize care for more than some 55,000 children whose parents went though the CalWORKS program, and who are now working and have been off cash aid for more than two years. A group of four parents who filed suit said their ability to keep working was threatened because they couldn't assume full cost for their childcare.

Mary Ignatius, statewide organizer for Parent Voices, which filed the lawsuit, said that the Department of Education today told representatives of childcare networks that letters will soon go out declaring that the childcare funding "is still in effect until further notice."

The department's lawyers are reviewing the details of the judge's ruling to figure out what else they must do, Ignatius said. The judge's decision, she said, "for all intents and purposes" means that parents are assured that their childcare subsidy, which was supposed to stop Oct. 30, will continue for now.

Democratic legislators announced this morning that they had advanced $40 million - $6 million of it from the Assembly's reduced operating budget - to help continue to pay for the program through January. The $34 million balance comes from county First 5 commissions, which will help children in those counties.

First 5 commissions fund child activities from tobacco tax money.

Legislators said they would try to restore the CalWORKS childcare money that was cut by line-item veto once they reconvene.

This post was updated at 2:20 p.m. to clarify the details of the $40 million advance. It was updated at 4:10 p.m. with Mary Ignatius' comments.


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