Families of four with incomes of up to $96,300 are eligible for subsidized child care, under new state income limits, and those with incomes under roughly $85,000 will pay no ‘family fees’ for it
Child care providers across California are voting on an agreement some advocates are hailing as “transformative” for the beleaguered industry.
The state has promised and set deadlines to overhaul its reimbursement model for providers of subsidized care, which advocates believe is key to solving the shortage of child care in California.
The state has also agreed to significantly reduce, and in many cases eliminate, the fees that low-income families must pay to receive state-subsidized child care.
In a state where child care for the youngest children typically costs more than $19,000 a year, California provides financial help for some low-income families toward it. Families who make 85 percent of the state median income or below — that’s up to $96,300 pre-tax annually for a family of four — are eligible for subsidized child care, according to the state’s income limits for the current fiscal year.
But the subsidy system doesn’t reach four out of five young California children who qualify for it, The San Diego Union-Tribune found in a January investigation.
And for the low-income families that it does serve, the subsidized care used to come at a hefty price.
Families have had to pay 10 percent of their monthly income as a “family fee” or co-payment for their subsidized child care — as much as $607 a month.
Federal law requires states to charge family fees on a sliding scale for subsidized care. But it leaves it up to states to decide how much and which families to charge.
Advocates for years have criticized California’s fees as inequitable and unaffordable for low-income families, noting that other states charge much less. South Dakota, for instance, charges no more than $82 a month; Oregon charges up to $130 a month and Washington state charges up to $215.
California has used COVID-19 aid to waive family fees since the onset of the pandemic, but before this summer’s budget deal, the fees had been set to return this year.
Read more at sandiegouniontribune.com.
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.
With a new president in office and a new administration at work, changes are coming that will affect IHSS providers, our clients, our families, and our communities.
This year, UDW caregivers face challenges in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Protecting health care and home care, our children, our paychecks, and keeping people with disabilities safe are all top priorities for our union.
Here’s a closer look at our legislative priorities in 2017:
Protecting—not repealing—our health care
Tens of thousands of IHSS providers get our health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (also called ACA or Obamacare). As Congress works to roll back and dismantle the ACA, UDW stands firm in our commitment that the access, affordability, and quality of our health care should be improved, not cut.
Protecting the IHSS program
Like Obamcare, Medicaid is also on the chopping block. Not only does 60% of Medicaid spending go to seniors and people with disabilities, it also provides an estimated 54% of the funding for the IHSS program. The administration’s plan to change Medicaid from a federal entitlement to a block grant program will have a negative impact on our home care clients because it will mean less federal funding for IHSS. UDW is committed to protecting home care by working to protect Medicaid.
Keeping our clients safe
In the past few years, we’ve sponsored legislation with the goal of keeping people with developmental and intellectual disabilities safer in our communities. This year, we will build upon that work by sponsoring a bill that seeks to improve the state’s emergency response systems by giving first responders – law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs – information that will help prevent negative interactions with people in their communities with mental impairments and developmental disabilities.
Improving the IHSS payroll system
Last year, we urged the Legislature to address problems with the IHSS payroll system that cause all too frequent paycheck delays. We succeeded in winning a statewide audit of the current system. The results of the audit are expected in March, and UDW will use the audit’s findings to sponsor legislation to finally fix the payroll system, and ensure providers are paid in a timely manner.
Improving California’s child care system
Family child care providers run daycares in their home where they provide care and early education for many of our children while we work. Unfortunately, like IHSS providers, family child care providers often experience paycheck issues and delays. UDW is working with family child care providers to urge the state to make changes that will ensure providers are paid faster and are notified when there are changes in family eligibility.
Want to help? Click here to call your local office to see how you can get involved in these fights and more!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2016
Sacramento – The 2016 UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 (UDW) Legislative Scorecard is now available. This year, state legislators and Governor Brown were scored on their support for policies that impact the nearly 98,000 In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) caregivers represented by UDW and the estimated 118,000 home care recipients who receive their care. This year’s scorecard also includes the overall career scores of the legislature and the governor dating back to 2009, when UDW began publishing legislative scorecards.
“This year, your votes supported policies that will keep people with disabilities safer in our communities, provide a path to retirement security for working families, increase the state’s minimum wage, and shed light on the inequality faced by more than 90,000 family caregivers who are not eligible for Social Security and other basic safety net benefits,” said UDW Executive Director Doug Moore.
This year, legislators and the governor were scored on home care related bills, including:
UDW thanks the dozens of Assemblymembers and Senators who voted with UDW 100 percent of the time this year, and looks forward to building on those victories and protecting home care together in the coming year.
Read the full UDW 2016 Legislative Scorecard here: http://www.udwa.org/2016/12/2016-legislative-scorecard.
United Domestic Workers of America (UDW)/AFSCME Local 3930 is a home care union made up of over 97,800 in-home caregivers across the state of California. UDW caregivers provide care through the state’s In-Home Supportive Services program (IHSS), which allows over half a million California seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and healthy at home.
My name is Helen Torrez, and I am a family child care provider in Merced County. I’m not sure if you all have heard but because of new legislation that was passed last year (Senate Bill 792), there are some new immunizations required for family child care providers this year. I wanted to make sure that other providers were aware of this but also remind you to get your immunizations and your files with proof of immunizations for your daycare up to date.
The new rule requires that as of September 1, 2016, all family child care providers, as well as our daycare assistants and volunteers, must be immunized against influenza (flu), pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. You may be up-to-date on your pertussis and measles vaccinations since they are fairly common but you can check with your doctor to obtain your vaccination records and make sure you ask your staff to do the same.
Be sure to ask any new daycare assistants you may hire for their records that show they’ve been immunized as well. It’s ok if they need time to get their records from their doctor. They just have to sign a statement for you that says they have been immunized. Then the new assistant is able to work for you up to 30 days while they’re getting their vaccination records in order.
If you or your staff do not want the influenza vaccine, you need to sign a declaration stating you have declined it. However, if you, as a provider, or your staff do not opt out, it’s recommended that we get the influenza vaccine between August 1st and December 1st every year.
Be sure to keep your vaccination records or proof from a licensed physician that the vaccinations would be harmful to you or your staff, OR evidence of disease immunity from a licensed physician for yourself and your assistants or volunteers in your daycare’s personnel records. Licensing Program Analysts will be making sure that these documents are available in your personnel files and can review them when requested. The Licensing Program Analysts are able to cite us if a daycare is found in violation.
Keep in mind, these new rules regarding influenza, pertussis, and measles are in addition to the current requirement that we all obtain a written tuberculosis clearance.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact Child Care Providers United of California (CCPU/UDW) at [email protected] or by phone at 1-888-226-7510.
Helen Torrez is a family child care provider in Merced County.
By Clyde Weiss, AFSCME, August 19, 2016
The need to make child care more affordable for families has been an issue in the Presidential race. But not enough attention has been given to the people – mostly women – who provide that care. That’s too bad, because nearly half of the nation’s child care workers are in families that receive food stamps, welfare or other federal support, according to a new report.
Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley found that, last year, 46 percent of child care providers lived in families enrolled in at least one of the social safety net programs: SNAP (food stamps), TANF (welfare), Medicaid or the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). That compares with slightly over a quarter of the total U.S. workforce that is enrolled in such programs.
These providers – an “almost exclusively female workforce,” according to the researchers – earn a median hourly wage of just $9.77. That’s less than a janitor is paid, on average. “Nationally, child care workers are nearly in the bottom percentile (second) when all occupations are ranked by annual earnings,” the report said.
“Our nation relies on their knowledge and skills to provide high-quality early care and education to our increasingly diverse population of children and families,” the authors wrote. “Yet our system of preparing, supporting, and rewarding early educators in the United States remains largely ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable.”
Without a change in state and federal policies that address this issue, they added, “our nation will remain unable to deliver on the promise of developmental and learning opportunities for all children.”
The authors – led by Marcy Whitebook, director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California-Berkeley – recommended several strategies to improve child care worker compensation, including identifying ongoing sources of funding “to ensure sustainable raises in base pay, in order to substantially improve the economic circumstances of early educators and to ensure the ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce.”
It will take political willpower to increase the wages of child care providers, but the consequences of not doing so may be felt by the next generation.
“We’re entrusting children to people who are really struggling to feed their own families,” said Whitebook in an interview about the report in the Washington Post. “They’re managing all this stress, which is distracting to all the important work they have to do.”
It’s at the state level where the changes must be made. “State policies play a powerful role in shaping early childhood jobs and, in turn, the quality of early learning experiences available to young children,” the report notes.
AFSCME, which represents thousands of child care workers nationwide, supports state initiatives to raise child care compensation. In California, UDW Homecare Providers Union/AFSCME Local 3930 is working with state lawmakers to raise subsidy rates for family child care providers who earn, on average, just $4.98 per hour after accounting for expenses, according to the coalition, “Raising California Together,” of which UDW is a member. Higher rates will make it “easier for them to afford their work-related expenses and keep their day cares open for business,” wrote UDW Exec. Dir. Doug Moore in a recent column on our blog.
“These problems add up to decreased access to quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities for our children,” wrote Moore, also an AFSCME International vice president. “But there is a solution: Make an investment in family child care providers to increase families’ access to child care.”
Hillary Clinton, AFSCME’s endorsed candidate for President, is committed to raising wages for America’s child care workforce. “Hillary will create the Respect and Increased Salaries for Early Childhood Educators (RAISE) initiative,” her campaign website says. “In line with Clinton’s Care Workers Initiative, RAISE will fund and support states and local communities that work to increase the compensation of child care providers and early educators and provide equity with kindergarten teachers by investing in educational opportunities, career ladders, and professional salaries.”
AFSCME will work to elect Secretary Clinton so she can carry out her pledge to the nation’s child care workers. They – and the next generation – depend on her.