Almost a half of SB city residents on welfare

By Monica Gallegos |Staff Writer|

There is 45.9 percent of San Bernardino’s population receiving some type of government aid. Parents who fall into this category are trying to get employed and off welfare.

This statistic comes from the 2011 Annual County Residents Receiving Aid Report and states that the city of San Bernardino has the highest percentage of people on government aid. Some believe that this number can be traced to the high costs of childcare.

“Those on welfare are at a stand still,” said Jackie Flores, director of a preschool in San Bernardino. “They can’t afford childcare, so they can’t get a job and if you can’t get a job you can’t get off welfare.”

The government aid being measured and received by the population includes cash benefits as well as Medi-Cal and Cal Fresh.

Although the city of San Bernardino is ranked number three in the county in population receiving cash aid, behind the cities of Adelanto and Barstow, the annual welfare expenditures are $523,942,368, highest in the county.

“I have about 7 percent of families at my school on government aid, so most are paying out of pocket,” said Flores.

Unfortunately, parents looking for jobs are also in need of childcare and some options are too expensive.

“The need for care has been increasing and there is a lot of interest, but most of the applicants can’t afford the price,” said Flores.

According to the 2011 Annual County Residents Receiving Aid Report, San Bernardino has the highest cost for childcare in the county.

“Need for childcare is representing the times,” said Flores, “a lot of centers are closing down because people can’t pay.”

Even privately funded preschools are in danger of closing.

“Private schools are the most at risk right now, and then that leaves state and public schools at their capacity,” said Flores.

Parents that are employed face difficulties in being able to just feed their children and still require some government aid.

“I’m lucky enough to have a job,” said Samantha Main, a Riverside Community College student, “but I’m still on W.I.C. (Women, Infants and Children) to help feed my child since it’s just me.”

W.I.C. is a government program that provides food and health services to low income women who are pregnant or have children up to the age of five.

“I work at a preschool so I’m able to get free care when my child was 18 months, but I still had to pay when she was an infant and that’s the bill right there,” said Main.

Employers in San Bernardino have been noticing an increase in applicants recently, but have been unable to provide jobs for everyone.

“I’ve had a drastic increase in employee applications,” said Flores. “But I can’t hire everyone, so its come down to me just hiring part time for minimum wage.”

Virginia Marquez, first ward councilwoman, was unable to comment on the matter but told The Sun that this is “reflective of the kind of economic time we face as leaders in San Bernardino.”