By Aurora Saldivar
Coachella, Calif. – Barbara Sandoval, a single mother of two girls, often rises at the crack of dawn in order to make her 5 a.m. shift at the local McDonalds.
Finding childcare is not simple for Sandoval, who works 30 hours each week for minimum wage. An inconvenient work schedule that is constantly in flux complicates her childcare needs even further.
Sandoval is grateful for the free childcare she receives through the CalWORKS program, a welfare program that gives cash aid and services, including free childcare, to eligible needy California families.
“Without this program’s help, I would have to spend my whole paycheck just on child care,” says Sandoval. “Either that or stay home.”
Sandoval takes her daughters Barbara and Teresa to Family Daycare, located about ten minutes away from her home. This small home daycare center is run by Martha Jaquez, whom Sandoval considers a godsend.
Sandoval admits that hers is not the most stable work schedule, but she is glad to be working at all. Luckily, Jaquez is on call around the clock to accommodate parents’ work schedules. Jaquez often takes Sandoval’s oldest daughter to Valley View Elementary School in the morning, along with the other children she babysits.
Sandoval says it’s very important that services like this exist to help parents on welfare work towards financial independence while raising young children.
“She takes care of my kids as many hours as I need, and the program pays,” says Sandoval. “This program is really supportive of single parents, encouraging me to work and become more independent.”
It’s hard to find work, but Sandoval is accepting of any work she finds and is relieved that Jaquez can accommodate her work hours. The more hours Sandoval works, the more Jaquez gets paid. Sandoval only hopes that it could be more.
“I know a lot of other parents and single moms who need the help of this program because they cannot find work in fulltime jobs,” she says.
Sandoval is a hardworking mom trying to make ends meet the best she can. She goes to work every day determined to find new opportunities to support the dreams she has for her family.
“I wish that somehow this program could find a way to encourage companies to give more hours to single moms or other parents involved in welfare programs to help myself and others become self providers,” she says.
If a family has little or no cash and needs housing, food, utilities, clothing or medical care, they may be eligible to receive immediate short-term help through CalWORKS. For more information, visit www.dss.cahwnet.gov/calworks.