BY JEANNE KUANG
Gabriela Guerrero’s children are all grown and have moved out, but the former stay-at-home mom never stopped raising kids.
The children who attend her home daycare in El Centro, in Imperial County near the Mexico border, are as young as 3 months old. Some are the children of farmworkers who drop them off at Guerrero’s house before their shifts in the pre-dawn hours. Nearly all are from families poor enough to qualify for state subsidies.
Many of the families can’t afford basic needs, Guerrero said, so the 57-year-old makes sure to provide their children with milk, diapers and sometimes clothes.
“I want the families to go to work knowing that (their children are) well taken care of, and they’re being loved and fed correctly,” she said.
Guerrero’s labor of love barely earns her a living. After paying two assistants and other costs, she figures she takes home about $3 or $4 an hour. She takes on credit card debt to keep her business going.
For years family child care providers — the vast majority of them women of color — have said they don’t get paid enough by the state of California to cover the costs of their businesses. Their fight for better pay and benefits, a two-decades-old effort, is reaching a fever pitch in California’s capital this year.
They’re pressing Gov. Gavin Newsom to raise their pay, and they have the Legislature on their side. Lawmakers put $1 billion for raises in their version of a state budget that they passed last week. That funding remains one of the key differences between Newsom and the Legislature as they hammer out a budget deal before July 1 that accounts for an estimated $32 billion deficit.
Read more at calmatters.org.
BY JENNY GOLD
Behind the white iron gate of her Boyle Heights home, Adriana Lorenzo’s concrete courtyard is filled with half a dozen tricycles, a basketball hoop and the melodic cadences of classical music that resonate through the play area. “It keeps the kids happy and calm,” she says.
Lorenzo owns her own child-care program, taking care of 14 children. On a recent Wednesday, she holds baby Elijah, 13 months, close to her chest, swaying back and forth as she brushes the hair from his eyes. Lorenzo has been working since 5 a.m., when she got up to sanitize the bathrooms and cook pancakes and eggs for the children before they began arriving at 6:30 a.m. Her last charge won’t head home until after 5:30 p.m.
She works 13 hours a day, five days a week, wiping tears, kissing owies, teaching the ABCs, and bending over to pick up countless toys. Nearly all her children come from low-income families and qualify for statevouchers that pay for the care. The rate varies by the age of a child, but for a 2-year-old, California pays Lorenzo up to $1,006 per month. After covering all her business expenses, including electricity, supplies, rent, food and the salary of a full-time aide, she says her childcare operation brings in about $1,000 per month.
So at midnight several times a week, she and her husband, who helps with the business, head out in their truck for a second shift: delivering food and packages for Amazon Flex.
California’s voucher rates are at the heart of a battle brewing over how much the state pays home child-care providers like Lorenzo, who run day care programs out of their homes. Such programs are licensed by the state and operators can care for up to 14 children at a time, sometimes some as young as 2 weeks old. Often, they are the only care option for parents working nontraditional hours — the farmworkers who start before dawn, janitors on the graveyard shift, the warehouse workers stocking shelves overnight. Most in-home child-care providers are women of color, many of them immigrants.
Read more at latimes.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.
Last night, UDW child care providers across the state and at our offices in Orange and Sacramento counties attended our monthly meeting to get the latest updates on child care.
The biggest issue on everyone’s mind was the state budget, and how it will affect family child care providers and our daycares. Together, we’ve worked for months to urge our elected leaders to make a significant investment in child care and early education.
Last night, we learned that our efforts were successful! The state legislature passed a budget this week that will invest an estimated $528 million into child care and early education programs. Of the $528 million, a majority of the funds will be used to increase subsidy reimbursement rates over the next two years. Rate increases will help providers afford the extra expense we will have when we have to pay our providers the new, higher state minimum wage.
The budget is now on Governor Brown’s desk, and he has until June 30th to sign it into law. That means we still have work to do.
We need to double our efforts to make sure the governor knows how important investing in child care is to providers and working families.
Call Governor Brown today at 1-916-445-2481. Make sure to tell him that you’re a child care provider, and that we must make an investment in care for children. Tell him to sign the budget to put much needed funds into California’s child care and early education system.
And be sure to ask other providers, your family, and your friends to make the call, too!
Click here to read more about the rate increases included in the state budget.