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.
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.
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.
For Immediate Release
June 27, 2016
Contact: Mike Roth, 916.444.7170
Sacramento, CA – The Raising California Together Coalition released the following statement from Co-Chairs Tonia McMillian, family child care provider, and Clarissa Doutherd, a parent and Executive Director at Parent Voices Oakland, on the budget agreement signed into law today that will invest $527 million in early learning and care for children and support for working parents in the state’s lowest-paying jobs:
“California took a huge leap forward for our kids today with the repeal of the Maximum Family Grant rule and investments in early learning that will pay dividends for generations. California’s early educators, parents and advocates are proud to have fought side-by-side through Raising California Together to improve child care quality and access and make early learning for California’s kids and support for working parents and the child care workforce a priority in this budget.
“Early learning is one of California’s best anti-poverty programs, and the significant, ongoing investment announced today will enable both child care workers and the parents they support to lift their families out of poverty.
“The Governor and legislative leadership have sent a strong and clear message that after years of neglect, California will no longer ignore an achievement gap that divides our kids into haves and have-nots before they even start kindergarten.
“But our fight to build the type of child care system that is worthy of all our children is far from over. Raising income eligibility and continuing to invest in quality care for infants and toddlers is critical to ensuring parents can maintain access to child care and for providers to be able to keep their doors open. We must also keep fighting to expand affordable child care until every growing girl and boy has access to a quality early learning experience each deserves, regardless of background.”
Raising California together, a coalition of child care workers, agencies, parents, educators, clergy and interfaith networks, unions, small businesses, women’s and children’s advocates, community groups, and public health organizations united to press for local, state, and national policy solutions to increase access to quality child care and early learning choices.
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.
By Doug Moore, UDW Executive Director
Gloria Carter has run a home-based daycare in Sacramento County for over 20 years. She provides child care and educational opportunities for the 12 kids in her care with the help of one daycare assistant. And she’s seen first-hand the child care crisis both California and the nation are experiencing.
“It’s terrible,” said Gloria. “Many of the parents of the kids in my care struggle to pay for child care while trying to make ends meet, and when I lose kids in my daycare, my family struggles too.”
Far too many working families can’t afford care, and family child care providers are dealing with wages so low that they can’t afford to keep their home-based daycares open. These problems add up to decreased access to quality, affordable child care and early learning opportunities for our children. But there is a solution: Make an investment in family child care providers to increase families’ access to child care.
And with numbers like these, it’s clear we need to invest in child care now more than ever.
In 2014, the cost of child care for a preschooler in California was approximately $9,100 in a child care center, and $7,850 in a home-based daycare. And this year, an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute found that it may be cheaper for a California family to send their child to college than to pay for child care for an infant. In fact, California is home to the 11th highest child care costs in the country. Families are struggling to provide for other basic needs like rent and food, because the cost of child care is, on average, a third of their income.
Families, especially low-income parents, rely on family child care providers to care for and teach their children while they work. And when parents can’t work because they can’t afford care for their children, they struggle to provide for their families.
“A mom of one of my kids couldn’t afford child care any longer, so she took her daughter out of my daycare,” Gloria recalled. “She reduced her hours at work, which meant reducing her income, so that she only worked when her daughter was in school.”
In California, low-income families can apply for child care subsidies to help them afford care for their children. However, many families in need don’t have access to the care because there aren’t enough slots, and others are just barely over the income threshold to qualify. All too often, families are forced to make tough decisions between paying for care and going to work.
This year, UDW is supporting a major investment in California’s child care system via the state budget. A quality investment in child care, including family child care providers, will help ease the financial worries of parents throughout the state. And right now, the best way to do this is to stabilize the child care system.
UDW supports an increase in subsidy rates, which will give family child care providers like Gloria a much needed and deserved increase in their pay – making it easier for them to afford their work-related expenses and keep their daycares open for business.
Investing in family child care providers and increasing access to care is a wise investment to make here in California, and throughout the country.
By the Editorial Board, The Sacramento Bee, May 23, 2016
No state was sorrier than California during the recession, when cash-strapped state lawmakers had to slash more than $1 billion in child care services. We’re a compassionate state, and it hurt, seeing families suffer. So you’d think that now that the economy has rebounded, that billion would be restored.
Though state lawmakers still talk a great game when it comes to caring about families, child care funding lags prerecession levels by more than $800 million. And though the legislative women’s caucus has asked for that money to be put back, the response so far has been pathetic.
This month, Gov. Jerry Brown suggested that the subsidized child care system be rethought and reconstituted with vouchers and block grants. Then last week, a Senate budget subcommittee offered a grudging bump of just $99 million.
We get the need to be fiscally prudent, but really? Maybe these people haven’t spent time around children lately. Otherwise they’d know that, just as one diaper won’t do when a baby uses eight daily, $80 worth of babysitting isn’t gettable for ten bucks.
Brown has a point about the complexity and expense of the existing system. And he is right to want to keep spending from running amok.
But as Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has pointed out, children aren’t just any line item. They’re the single most important priority for millions of households. The days when one parent can afford not to work outside the home are over, and quality child care can mean the difference between a kid who flourishes in school or flunks out as an adolescent, between an employee who is fully present in the workplace and one wracked for eight hours a day with worry.
That worry is bipartisan. Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen and Assemblywomen Marie Waldron, Kristin Olsen, Catharine Baker, and Ling-Ling Chang have joined 19 Democratic female legislators (and at least two men – Assemblymen Mike Gatto and Marc Levine) in asking Brown to restore that $800 million.
State lawmakers should take another look at this funding. Nothing – no pothole, no pay raise, no prison – is more important than the first years of a child’s lifee.
January 1, 2015
By Doug Moore, UDW Executive Director
We’re at the start of a new and exciting year for UDW. All that we accomplished together in 2015 has put us in a great position to win even more for homecare providers and our clients and loved ones in the New Year. But before we move forward, let’s reflect on where we’ve been.
2015 began with the disappointing announcement that Governor Brown chose to go back on his promise to pay IHSS providers overtime, travel time, and medical wait time.
“I don’t think it’s right,” said Riverside County IHSS provider Jose Diaz when the decision was announced. “We aren’t trying to get rich. We just want to be paid so we can support our families.”
In the face of this devastating news, we fought back. At our Justice for Homecare Tribunal in March, we put the state on trial for its unfair treatment of IHSS providers and our clients. “We need to invest in this program, so it’s available when we need it,” said IHSS recipient Chantal Morris during her tribunal testimony. “And we need to invest in our workers, so they are there to do the job when we need them most.”
Also in March, we held our 15th Constitutional Convention, where it was announced that after over a year of hard work on the part of our member organizers, UDW was 30,00 members stronger. At convention we also welcomed our sisters and brothers of CUHW, and in 2015 we grew from a union of 67,000 homecare providers to nearly 90,000. We were joined by homecare providers from across the world, and passed important resolutions pledging our support to Black Lives Matter and other community-based efforts.
In April and November, UDW caregivers joined the Fight for $15 alongside fast food workers, adjunct professors, and other low wage workers. We committed ourselves to winning justice for all working families, because all workers deserve a living wage and the ability to provide for our families. We solidified this commitment further when we began working to uplift the work of family child care providers, who like homecare providers are undervalued for the work they do to support working families, and many of California’s children.
This summer we defeated the harmful, recession-era 7% cut to our clients’ hours. We converged on the Capitol to demand full restoration of IHSS clients’ hours, and we were heard! In June, Governor Brown signed the current budget, which ended the 7% cut for one year.
In November, after months of demanding #Overtime4Caregivers, the state announced it would finally pay IHSS providers overtime pay for the first time in history. Overtime and other labor protections for homecare workers begins on February 1, 2016, and eligible providers will also receive pay for same-day travel between IHSS clients and medical accompaniment time. “This is a historic victory that is well deserved,” said San Luis Obispo District Chair and IHSS provider Allene Villa. “It shows that leaders know providers mean something and we matter.”
Throughout the year we continued our efforts to win better wages and benefits for homecare workers at the county level, and caregivers in San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties move forward with state-level bargaining for the first time ever. “I’m here not just for myself but for all homecare workers,” said UDW caregiver Marcus Haynes of Riverside County. “Our team is very strong, and we will win. I don’t want people to starve while they are doing great work, God’s work.”
One thing people don’t seem to understand about homecare workers is this: we never quit. We don’t quit on our clients and loved ones, we don’t quit on each other, and we won’t quit fighting to protect the homecare program in California.
We deserve dignity and respect, and this year we’re going to demand it! We’re going to work together to end the 7% cut to our clients’ hours for good, and by any means necessary—because dignity can’t wait. We will continue our fight to win retroactive overtime pay for IHSS providers. We’ll work on improvements to the IHSS timesheet process. And together, we will use our strength as a union to help elect the next leaders of our state and country.
I look forward to working with you in the coming months and years. We won’t stop until we win justice.