SACRAMENTO – On the heels of Governor Newsom’s goal to strengthen our early care and education system, child care providers, mothers, grandmothers and community partners joined Asm. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) and Asm. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) at the Capitol on Wednesday calling on legislators to seize this historic opportunity to strengthen our early care and education system and ensure the professionals who care for and educate our youngest children have a seat at the table with the state. Providers from across the state, comprised overwhelmingly of women of color, asked legislators to support legislation ensuring their right to collective bargaining and negotiate with the state.
“Providers like me know what children need to get the best education in the critical 0-5 years. We’re excited to come together in our union so we can formally be California kids best advocates,” said Tonia McMillian, a family child care provider from Bellflower. “Given the important responsibilities we have educating children and keeping them safe, we need a seat at the table to negotiate for the things the kids in our care and our own families need.”
Surrounded by family child care providers, parents and advocates, Asm. Limón introduced AB 378, the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act. AB 378 will allow California’s 40,000 early childhood educators to join child care providers in 11 others states who are able to negotiate with the state for improvements to the early childhood education system. This includes increasing access for low-income children and families who cannot afford the rising cost of child care – now estimated at as much as $14,000 a year per child in California – and helping providers be able to support their own families, since they now do not receive health benefits and earn low wages paid by the state.
AB 378 also calls for a training partnership to play a coordinating role in ensuring the training offered to providers meets the state’s needs for the overall childcare workforce; satisfies the health, safety, and educational standards prescribed by the state; aligns with the California’s quality rating systems; and identifies and works to eliminate barriers to providers accessing training in order to create a sustainable career pathway for the early education workforce.
“To improve child care, California must listen to those who know working families best: our 40,000 home based child care providers,” said Asm. Limón. “There are no voices more knowledgeable or passionate about California’s critical child care needs than this group of mostly women who labor every day to nurture our children and fuel our economy by making it possible for moms and dads to report to work. If they are to lead and inform us on the issue of child care, their voices must be heard.”
Child care providers with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and United Domestic Workers (UDW) have worked for years to push for an equitable and fair education system in California that guarantees quality, affordable and accessible education for every young person in the state starting at birth. This includes stabilizing a workforce of early childhood educators and ensuring they are able to care for their own families.
Yet, in California today:
- Nearly 60 percent of the state’s child care workforce relies on government assistance programs to get by, according to Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UC Berkeley.
- A working, single mother is paying nearly 70% of her income on child care, according to the California Budget and Policy Center.
- There are only enough licensed child care slots for 23% of California’s children, according to 2017 California Child Care Portfolio.
“I still believe the California Dream I hear so much about from our Governor is possible for myself and for my children,” said Ruby Chege a parent from Sacramento. “I’m asking our state leaders to help make that dream a reality by fully supporting high quality child care – for all children, working parents and these early educators who make our working days possible.”
“The women who do the work of early education must have a voice in strengthening the child care system if California is to succeed in lifting up children and families, especially in our communities of color,” said Kim Kruckel, Executive Director, Child Care Law Center. “We are encouraged by Governor Newsom’s focus on giving a children a strong start; The Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act is essential to ensuring his bold vision becomes a reality and that his proposed investment pays off for our next generation.”
Child care providers are eager to work with Governor Newsom on his bold vision for fixing and prioritizing quality early childhood education for all children and families. This includes empowering mothers to succeed in the workforce and connecting our children to crucial brain-building opportunities.