On September 8, my assistant and I had the honor of being part of a wonderful experience in San Jose. The energy was felt the minute we stepped into SEIU Local 521’s conference room. Dozens of Family Child Care Providers from across California gathered in San Jose to talk strategy and organizing at our quarterly Statewide Action Committee meeting. Providers came together to discuss our plan to win the right to collectively bargain with the state so we may create a path for quality family child care for all in California.

Tonia McMillan, SEIU Local 99 Treasurer and a Provider from Bellflower, helped kick off the morning discussing how our plan will focus on fixing California’s child care system by expanding our base, building our membership, securing funding for child care, and eventually winning a strong contract. She shared how collective bargaining will play a central role in ensuring child care works for providers and for the parents and kids we serve every day. Anna Rodriguez, an SEIU 521 Provider from Watsonville, followed this by highlighting how much we’ve already won by working together and what we can do every day to help build more support for our movement.

It’s an exciting year for Family Child Care Providers. We’re closer than we’ve ever been to winning the right to negotiate a contract. Gavin Newsom, who is running for Governor of California, is the first candidate in history to publicly commit his support for collective bargaining for Family Child Care Providers. “This meeting was motivational and inspiring. It was a fantastic opportunity for providers from across California to get together and talk about our profession. It’s clear how much we all have in common as providers, and how important electing Gavin Newsom for Governor will be for addressing the problems parents and providers face with our child care system,” said Roseanne Galli-Adams, an SEIU 521 Family Child Care Provider from Oakland.

We heard from SEIU Local 99’s Executive Director, Max Arias, and SEIU 521 Chief Elected Officer, Riko Mendez. They talked about the outpouring of support Family Child Care Providers are receiving from other SEIU brothers and sisters. California hasn’t seen a movement like the one we’re building in over 20 years. Our fellow SEIU union members are standing with us because they know the fight for quality child care is one that impacts all of us – parents and providers alike.

We know early educators like ourselves need more resources, training, and a living wage. But, the California Subsidy Program needs permanent funding to ensure all families have access to affordable early education. To do so, we must team up with parents and our community to grow our movement for quality child care and collective bargaining.

California is the 5th largest economy in the world. We are home to more billionaires than any other state – 144 billionaires to be exact – with a collective net worth of 730 billion dollars. The question is not, “Where is the money?”, the question is, “Are we willing to make them pay?” California has the necessary resources to fix our child care system and to make sure providers have the tools we need. But, first we must hold our elected leaders accountable. They must commit to listening to parents, providers, and communities – not the wealthy billionaires. I am more sure than ever the work we do as leaders and child care providers to improve the lives of children and parents is absolutely necessary. Together we will fix the broken child care system. ¡SI SE PUEDE!