A recent proposal adopted by Los Angeles County works to eliminate unemployed mothers from having to seek employment opportunities while receiving welfare funds.

Los Angeles County supervisors voted last Tuesday for changes to CalWORKS and other government aid programs that they said would save nearly $270 million.

These new proposals come via recommendations made by L.A. County Chief Executive Officer Bill Fujioka, and subsequently from the state’s legislative cut of $270 million in CalWorks made last Tuesday in Sacramento.

Those cuts include $175 million in reductions to child-care and employment services – furthering the county’s decision for action.

Currently, parents who receive government assistance must do job training and actively search for employment.

While they fulfill those requirements, they are eligible for subsidized child care, which typically costs the state about $500 a month per child in L.A. County.

Under this new proposal, the mother no longer must fulfill those requirements.

Dr. Michael Olenick, who heads the nonprofit Child Care Resource Center in Chatsworth, said the parents of children under age 1 may stay home and still receive benefits without actively seeking employment opportunities.

Now, county officials propose expanding that to parents who have one child under age 2 or two children under age 6.

Olenick said, that in his position, it’s just not as simple as being for or against this proposal.

“I find myself falling somewhere in the middle on this,” Olenick stated.

“I can be for it because I think there are legitimate reasons for some families to not work and stay at home with their children, and given that there aren’t a whole lot of jobs out there it might make sense,” stated Olenick.

“However, I can also be against it because getting people off welfare and putting into the economy is a good thing,” Olennick affirmed.

Dr. Olenick further stated that this proposal might be a retraction on some of the advancements welfare policy has made.

“There is a federal requirement that while on assistance, people look for a job or be in a training program – this proposal would suspend that for two years,” stated Olenick. “It’s almost like making things the way they were before Clinton did Welfare to Work.”

One person who doesn’t shy away from their opinion on this proposal is L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich—the lone vote against the proposal.

Supervisor Antonovich’s Social Services Deputy, Helen Berberian, said the supervisor had every reason to vote against.

“In order to enable mothers to seek job possibilities the state also must pay for child care providers to free up that mother’s time so she can go do her services,” stated Berberian. “This proposal works to free up money by cutting those services out of their requirements while the mothers still get grants.”

Furthermore, Berberian stated that this goes against everything that the 1998 Welfare Reform Act accomplished.

“This reverses 1998 Welfare reform which has already gotten 50 percent of people on CalWorks on to self sufficiency. They’re off of welfare and that’s good for the community,” Berberian affirmed. 

LA County supervisors also made some other interesting actions last Tuesday, including proposals that the state cap and overhaul general relief for single people, as well as reduce payments to adoptive parents, disabled foster children and some child-care providers.

Supervisor Antonotivch was again the lone nay vote on these proposals.

Berberian argued that the proposal to reduce payments to adoptive parents, disabled foster child and some child-care proved bad for the future of L.A. County.

“The supervisor’s position is if you don’t provide kids stability as early as possible in their lives, society is going to face the consequences,” Berberian affirmed. 

Andrew Carico can be reached at acarico@publicceo.com