State-subsidized day care to last through the year in California

Child-care advocates who had sued to stop the state from ending a day-care program that serves nearly 60,000 low-income parents announced a settlement Wednesday to keep the program afloat through the end of the year.

Under the agreement, the state will continue to provide child-care services through Dec. 31. At the same time, parents who use the service will be notified of their right to be screened for eligibility for other state-subsidized child-care programs. The program serves former welfare recipients who are now working but not earning enough to afford day care.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had vetoed $256 million for the day-care program when he signed the state budget last month. The veto was one of several he said was needed to bolster the state's reserves.

"The settlement creates much-needed breathing room during the holidays for the families that Gov. Schwarzenegger cut off last month — but it is a short-term measure, not a permanent fix," Melissa Rodgers, an attorney with the Child Care Law Center, said in a statement.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill, who had temporarily halted the cutback until a hearing scheduled for later this month, signed off on the settlement.

It's not clear how the program will be paid for over the next six weeks.

"We actually don't know at this point," said Hilary McLean, a spokeswoman for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, one of the parties to the settlement.

Democratic legislative leaders have said that restoring full funding for the program is their top priority when Gov.-elect Jerry Brown assumes office in January. Brown, a Democrat, has declined to take a position on the issue.

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