Family child care providers, other SEIU members, parents, and their children spent the day in Sacramento to talk to legislators about the recently unveiled Assembly Bill 378, or the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act. AB 378, authored by Assembly Member Monique Limón (D- Santa Barbara/Ventura), will allow family child care providers to have a strong voice to improve early education and eliminate discriminatory practices by granting them the same rights every worker across the country has — the right to collectively bargain and have a union.

Sacramento welcomed hundreds of family child care providers who walked the halls of the Capitol to speak to our legislators about why early educators need a seat at the table to improve our state’s child care system. “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 and our SEIU Local 99 Treasurer. “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.”

The legislation (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. Currently, licensed family child care providers must battle with wages as low as $5-$7 per hour, license-exempt providers can make as little as $3.61 hour. Poverty wages and a lack of benefits like overtime, healthcare, and retirement forces many passionate early educators to close their doors, denying millions of working families access to early care and education. There are in fact over 1 million children eligible for state-subsidized care who do not receive care because of a lack of funds and a lack of in-home care facilities.

“Our communities suffer when we have a broken child care system. I am a parent who suddenly became ineligible for child care for my three-year-old daughter April when my check was over a couple of dollars. I have also seen my provider Graciela take money from her own pocket to provide basic things like diapers, snacks, and baby wipes for the children in her home. We need a change for providers, for parents and for our children. That’s why I came to support child care providers in their fight for a voice with AB 378,” said Juan Palma, a parent from Koreatown.

For over 15 years, 40,000 child care providers across California have been fighting for legislation that ensures that California recognizes their union, changing an outdated and discriminatory law that prohibits them from negotiating with the state about their pay, benefits, training, regulations and more. In 2019, family child care providers are on a path to win like never before. Join us in our fight for quality child care for all!