Most of you are familiar with CalWORKs, the 4-year lifetime welfare support program for families. It has been the ‘cash cow’ for several years as the actual cash supports have been eroded from $700 to $600 per month to help us balance our budget. No current budget allocations are set to restore those cuts.
The cash allowance is for rent, utilities, school supplies, toilet paper and toothpaste – and it nowhere begins to cover a family’s needs. That we refuse to offer enough to pay even our soaring housing costs in California is obscene.
This cash allowance is based on small family units. The laws on CalWORKs also do one other thing – they will not pay one cent more to help support any child born while the family is receiving CalWORKs. This is the “Maximum Family Grant” (MFG) rule that we have been trying to remove for over a decade.
Such an allotment would offer and additional $133 per month – hardly enough to cover an infant’s costs – but would go a long way toward helping desperately impoverished families cover some of their expenses. The implication that having a child while on welfare is some sort of evil is a remnant of Victorian Values that criminalize the poor for being human, for having the same hopes and dreams we all do.
Senator Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) is the author of SB 23 that will remove the MFG limitation. Simple humanity demands we welcome infants into our human family with at least enough care to see them through this hard time their families face.
Please write today to Senator Mitchell to sign on to SB 23 in support for the care of our infants and their families. California can well afford to do this. It is past time we create a surplus for the state while gouging infants and families to do so.
Attached is a sample letter for you to use to express your own insights into why SB 23 is an important moral and political action we must take:
Hon. Holly Mitchell
California State Senate
Sacrament, CA 95814 RE: SB 23-SUPPORT
Dear Senator Mitchell:
[ I/We} from [Your congregation, organization or just yourself] am writing in support for ending the Maximum Family Grant for those on CalWORKs
Care for the poor for us goes beyond charity, binding the immediate wounds, to full justice that assures people the care they need.
Therefore, we support SB 23 to repeal the maximum family grant that now limits help to only those children born before parental enrollment in CalWORKs. This limitation is a manifestation of mythology about people who have babies “for the money” as if that made an ounce of sense. The extra $133 per month won’t remotely cover the cost of a newborn or young child, and since there is a lifetime limit on CalWORKs participation, this would be a huge lifetime commitment by the parents without a cent in compensation.
The imposition of a maximum “price” reduces children to the status of objects to be bandied about as political issues and removes their humanity by dismissing our obligation to them. This is a wicked violation of our Constitutional mandates to support the General Welfare and the 14th Amendment insistence on the equality of all citizens. It is a mean-spirited reduction to Victorian values that arbitrarily categorizes the “deserving” and the “undeserving” poor. That we would do this to infants and toddlers is horrific.
This is the antithesis of what America is about. It is not a dog-eat-dog society but one predicated on cooperation and shared resources. From earliest days we once provided all children with what they needed to survive, and that foundational principle has been shredded in a vicious pretense that children are a drain on our society if they are poor. It is past time we return to fundamental values that uphold the value of women, of families, and especially of children.
We thank you for this effort and stand with you in our strong support of this bill.
[Your name or names]
Organization if applicable
Address and Zip
To send the letter without using the US Mail (letters languish getting screened for anthrax – crazy world we live in) please either FAX the letter to Senator Mitchell’s office and a copy to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #1 or email them:
Sen. Holly Mitchell: FAX: 916-651-4930 Phone: 916-651-4030.
Email to Elise Gyore, her Legislative Director: Elise.Gyore@sen.ca.gov
Assem.Member Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) FAX: 916-319-2115
Email to Subcommittee #1 staff Nicole Vasquez. Nicole.Vasquez@asm.ca.gov
There will be a hearing in Budget Subcommittee #1 on Wednesday, March 30. We will encourage those who are able to appear to do a simple “Me, too” for yourselves and/or your organization. You may also contact your local Assembly Members in the district offices to express support for removing the MFG. We will provide more information as the hearing gets closer.
To find your elected officials, please go to:
Once you have entered your location information and saved it, this link will take you to your elected officials and connect you to their home pages with district and capitol information.
Please help us remove this inhumane barrier to families struggling to keep moving out of poverty. We need to put a hand under their elbow while they work to become self-sufficient. This will be one way to do that.