Pamela never quite imagined herself as a family child care provider. She had planned her life around her career as a military police officer, and served proudly for many years. While serving overseas, Pamela met her now husband of over 20 years. Today, the family of five lives in Siskiyou County, where Pamela has dedicated the past decade to providing affordable, quality care to the families in her community—even in spite of a recent cancer diagnosis.
It all started in 2007 when the couple returned to the United States after years of overseas deployments, and while stationed at Fort Irwin in San Bernardino County, they celebrated the birth of their first child. Like many working moms before her, Pamela made the difficult decision to leave her career to care for her son. But she still wanted to make a difference in her community, too, so she started taking classes and earned her associate’s degree in early childhood education.
The family grew from three to four and moved to Siskiyou County, where Pamela’s husband started a new job at the Forest Service and she worked at the local elementary school while pursuing her B.A. But it was difficult finding affordable child care in Siskiyou County—so Pamela vowed to do something about it.
Opening her own family child care gave Pamela the opportunity to have an active part in her young children’s educational development while also helping other families in her community. It was the best of both worlds, but it was not without its struggles. Like most family child care providers in California, low rates and lack of benefits can make doing this vital work that much harder.
Pamela’s passion for education can be seen in everything she does with the children in her care—from providing developmentally appropriate toys and integrating nature walks and other outdoor activities into her curriculum to promote health and balance.
And, since being diagnosed with cancer and multiple sclerosis, she has only closed her doors twice: once when she began multiple sclerosis treatment, and the other when her husband helped her shave her hair after starting chemotherapy. With the help of an assistant, she now serves six children between the ages of 14 months and 4 years old. Through it all, her passion for care has never wavered.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Pamela also puts her all into being an active member of her union. Even while battling two difficult diagnoses, Pamela is a member of our bargaining team and is helping in the fight for an improved rate structure that accurately reflects the true cost of care. She knows that our voices are what make us such a powerful union and will keep on fighting for herself and her fellow family child care providers.
She has gone above and beyond the status quo of any family child care provider, continuing to provide care for those in her community, and even using her diagnoses and life obstacles as teaching moments in her classroom. Her commitment to educating and caring for the children at her daycare is inspiring, and her story serves as a reminder of the challenges that family child care providers in California face and the dedication it takes to provide quality care despite those challenges.
To learn how you can join Pamela and others in our fight for better reimbursement rates, a path to retirement, and more, please call our Member Resource Center at 800-621-5016.
In March, CCPU-UDW began our second-ever statewide bargaining negotiations. Our top priority is to fight for and win a new permanent rate structure that better reflects the true cost of subsidized care. Our work makes all other work possible, yet we make less than minimum wage for subsidized care after costs. This is unacceptable!
We deserve a living wage for our invaluable work—and we need it now! “Our fight secured stabilization dollars, improved our access to health care, and even started paving the way to retirement,” Horace Turner, a CCPU-UDW bargaining unit member, said, “But we have so much work left to do! This is our chance to make the changes we need so that we can afford to do the work we love while educating and guiding the next generation.”
We know that our combined voices have the power to make the impossible possible. Now is no different.
Contact our Membership Resource Center at 800-621-5016 to find out how you can get
Author: Jesse Pagan
Members of the Child Care Providers United (CCPU) union say the childcare system in California is close to a “breaking point” but say they can’t stop.
SAN DIEGO — Childcare providers across California rallied Monday, asking state leaders to help them stay open.
Members of the Child Care Providers United (CCPU) union say the childcare system in California is close to a “breaking point” but say they can’t stop now.
As a working mom in the U.S. Navy, Salena Maxwell knows how hard it can be to find someone trustworthy to care for kids. Lucky for her, she found Genny Leal.
As soon as I walked into her house, it felt like home,” Maxwell said.
Leal says she knows the struggle as a parent and a childcare provider.
“I would be terrified not knowing who am I going to leave my child with if my daycare provider is closed,” she said.
It’s why they joined members of the CCPU, rallying in several cities across California on what they’re calling a “Day Without Childcare.”
Read more at cbs8.com.
By Tania Thorne / North County Reporter
Contributors: Charlotte Radulovich / Video Journalist
What would happen if there was no child care? It could cause an upheaval to our economy. That’s the point parents and child care providers wanted to make when they declared Monday a nationwide Day Without Child Care.
“How is it going to be for a parent that needs to go to work, and all of a sudden their day care is closed? Me — as a parent — I would be terrified not knowing who I’m going to leave my child with if my day care provider is closed,” said child care provider with the Child Care Providers Union in San Diego Genny Leal.
The group held a demonstration to highlight the need for affordable child care and better pay for child care staff.
“Even though we don’t get benefits like retirement … or vacation time … we’ve been there providing this service to help families,” said experienced child care provider Rosa Estrada.
She said their income is “ridiculous.”
Many facilities have gone out of business or face staffing shortages, limiting the amount of kids they can care for.
Read more at kpbs.org.
By ADAM BEAM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Every weekday, Patricia Moran has up to a dozen children in her San Jose home day care center, mostly from low-income families — and sometimes the kids are as young as 2 weeks old because their parents can’t afford to take more time off from work.
In between helping the children make bubbles, serving them meals at a big table with small chairs and teaching them “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in English and Spanish, Moran said she is fielding phone calls from other parents — sometimes up to four per day — who are desperate to find care for their young children.
That’s why Moran was surprised when Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is just starting his second term in office, proposed to delay funding for 20,000 additional slots for subsidized child care for low-income families in order to help balance the state budget.
Even more perplexing was Newsom’s reasoning for the delay: The child care spots that were already funded were not yet being used.
“They need (these vouchers) right away,” Moran said. “The parents, they have to go to work.”
It’s true that there’s plenty of demand for subsidized child care, and it’s also true that much of the funding California has already allocated has not been used — a paradox that reflects the state’s roller coaster revenues and the strange funding decisions that arise.
For the past four years, the state has had so much money that it couldn’t spend it fast enough. With record-breaking surpluses aided by billions of dollars in federal pandemic aid, Newsom and state lawmakers paid for 146,000 new child care slots for low-income families. That’s so many new slots — more than double what had been previously available — that state officials couldn’t fill them fast enough.
State-funded child care workers must be licensed by the state, a process that requires background checks and inspections to ensure that day care centers — some of which are in homes — are safe and secure. It can take up to a year to go through the whole process.
Once the administrative hurdles are out of the way, enrolling families can take more time. Farooq Azhar, executive director of BJ Jordan Child Care Programs in Sacramento, said there are 4,700 families on his waiting list. When it’s time for enrollment, some families don’t respond, some don’t follow through and others just “take a long time to complete the required paperwork,” he said.
Read the full article at apnews.com.
By Annette Nicholson
It’s 5 a.m. and the stars are still bright in the sky. I’ve already been awake for an hour, preparing to welcome the first family dropping their child off. Over the course of the day, I’ll read books, lead educational activities, watch over nap time and cook three hot meals before the last child gets picked up at 8 p.m.
Then I’ll wake up and do it all over again – seven days a week.
This work isn’t for everyone but I love it. Working communities like mine cannot thrive without child care providers.
Many of us are Black and brown women who exist near poverty, despite the long hours we keep. But this cannot remain the norm. California’s leaders need to eliminate the enduring relics of slavery built into this work which intentionally leaves us behind.
I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a masters in public health but left a well-paying medical administration job because it wasn’t fulfilling. I turned back to my roots caring for neighborhood kids when I was growing up in Missouri, and I opened up a home-based child care.
I now welcome seven kids into my home every day – the youngest is 14 months old and the oldest is 12 years old. Some kids are the fourth in their family to spend their vital early learning years with me. And I love and cherish each of them and their families.
But love doesn’t pay my bills. And I barely get by on the $10,000 in annual take home pay (after expenses).
When my fence went down in one of the horrible storms we experienced last year, I knew I needed to get it fixed immediately for the safety of the children I serve. I also knew that would require tapping into my savings. At 61 years old, the savings I had intended for retirement have mostly gone into emergencies like this so I’m not sure when or if I’ll be able to retire.
Many are shocked to learn California’s child care providers take home so little and wonder how that can be legal. The ugly truth is majority Black workforces – like in-home care workers and child care providers – were intentionally excluded from federal labor protections after the Emancipation Proclamation and continued to be left out of the protections we’re most familiar with today, many provided through the New Deal.
Read more at calmatters.org.
We are experiencing a powerful shift in this country. From the grape fields to Amazon warehouses and Starbucks coffee shops, workers from sectors that are often overlooked and undervalued are coming together to fight for our rights, reawakening and revitalizing the labor movement.
Likewise, IHSS providers and family child care providers are uniting to build an even stronger UDW—just this year, we welcomed thousands of new members into our union, and used our collective strength and power to win the Workers Tax Credit, affordable health care for child care workers, better wages and benefits in several IHSS counties, and term limits for BOS members in Kern County. Read more about UDW’s wins in 2022
For decades we have worked within our communities and our union to strengthen our rights on the job, fight for racial justice, ensure safer interactions with police, protect our environment, and so much more. We’ve built networks of support at home and worldwide—in fact, UDW has partnered with our union siblings across the globe to take a stand for not only workers’ rights, but for human rights, because we know that we are stronger together.
Since the pandemic, we have poured our hearts into making our work visible and reclaiming
the power of our labor—and though we’ve come a long way, we still have work to do. In 2023, we are fighting for better wages and benefits for caregivers, our second-ever contract for child care providers, and a new framework for long-term care throughout California.
We can’t wait to see where this momentum takes us, and we hope you’ll join us in these upcoming fights.
My name is Ana Fierro, and I’m a family child care provider in Modesto. My mother-in-law’s influence iswhat convinced me to open my own daycare, and 12 years later I’m still going strong. I love caring for children, and I love my work.