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.