By Nikita Houston, Child Care Provider, Los Angeles
On April 2, 2018, I had the opportunity to represent SEIU Local 99 providers in Sacramento at the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) headquarters. Other participants at the round table discussion included Community Care Licensing representatives from Northern/Southern California and our sister child care unions. Together, we had the opportunity to engage CDSS about pressing concerns we have as providers. The meeting was informative and we won some commitments from CDSS on the following:
- Mandatory child abuse reporting certification: Assembly Bill 1207 states ALL providers must be equipped to identify and report suspected child abuse or neglect. However, the vendors contracted to facilitate the process only produced the certification exam in English. Therefore, providers who don’t speak English will be exempt while English speaking providers will be cited for non-compliance. I was not very happy about this. The law was created to equip providers to intervene in situations of suspected abuse but by failing to provide certification for non-English speakers, we are not protecting the non-English speaking children cared for by non-English speaking providers. Consequently, in the hopes of expediting non-English mandated child abuse trainings, no civil penalties should be enforced until all providers have access to the mandated child abuse training.
- Establishing local relationships: Providers advocated to have Community Care Licensing Program Analysts conduct outreach to local Resource and Referral Agencies (R&R). CDSS committed LPAs to offer training and support to providers, helping to establish connections on the local level. Local 99 was also recommended to facilitate trainings to ensure represented child care providers receive this vital information.
- Standardized inspection process: Providers expressed concerns about discrepancies of citations by different LPAs during their inspection visits.
Overall, we came together on important issues and brought them to the attention of the agencies responsible. When we work together to understand our role as child care providers, everyone wins. We are now better equipped to provide the highest quality of services for the children and families we serve. I encourage all providers to seek opportunities to participate in future CDSS meetings. This enables us to form partnerships with important entities that shape the child care industry and also strengthens our union!