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 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.