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 ADAM BEAM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Every weekday, Patricia Moran has up to a dozen children in her San Jose home day care center, mostly from low-income families — and sometimes the kids are as young as 2 weeks old because their parents can’t afford to take more time off from work.
In between helping the children make bubbles, serving them meals at a big table with small chairs and teaching them “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in English and Spanish, Moran said she is fielding phone calls from other parents — sometimes up to four per day — who are desperate to find care for their young children.
That’s why Moran was surprised when Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is just starting his second term in office, proposed to delay funding for 20,000 additional slots for subsidized child care for low-income families in order to help balance the state budget.
Even more perplexing was Newsom’s reasoning for the delay: The child care spots that were already funded were not yet being used.
“They need (these vouchers) right away,” Moran said. “The parents, they have to go to work.”
It’s true that there’s plenty of demand for subsidized child care, and it’s also true that much of the funding California has already allocated has not been used — a paradox that reflects the state’s roller coaster revenues and the strange funding decisions that arise.
For the past four years, the state has had so much money that it couldn’t spend it fast enough. With record-breaking surpluses aided by billions of dollars in federal pandemic aid, Newsom and state lawmakers paid for 146,000 new child care slots for low-income families. That’s so many new slots — more than double what had been previously available — that state officials couldn’t fill them fast enough.
State-funded child care workers must be licensed by the state, a process that requires background checks and inspections to ensure that day care centers — some of which are in homes — are safe and secure. It can take up to a year to go through the whole process.
Once the administrative hurdles are out of the way, enrolling families can take more time. Farooq Azhar, executive director of BJ Jordan Child Care Programs in Sacramento, said there are 4,700 families on his waiting list. When it’s time for enrollment, some families don’t respond, some don’t follow through and others just “take a long time to complete the required paperwork,” he said.
Read the full article at apnews.com.