For two years the statewide Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education, convened by Governor Brown and Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), has talked to stakeholders in the early care world about what we need to do to give California’s children the best care. This included providers, parents, ECE advocates, community groups, nonprofits and more. The commission is made up of elected officials and early education experts including our very own family child care provider and SEIU Local 99 Treasurer, Tonia McMillian. This is the first time a provider has ever sat on a statewide commission!
For eight hearings, countless subcommittees, and public testimonies, providers were there to remind our state leaders why collective bargaining is essential to improving early care and education. Providers, in fact, shared their stories at every single hearing in the state, and at times even official testimony! On April 29, the Blue Ribbon Commission delivered their final report. In their report, under the Workforce section, was strong support for collective bargaining for child care providers and calls for increasing compensation levels and professional development training. This happened because of all the valiant stories providers from SEIU Local 99, SEIU Local 521, and UDW-AFSCME told across the state.
The report includes the voices of child care providers including SEIU Local 99 member Renaldo Sanders from Compton who says: “My dream is to gain a seat at the table so providers, who work directly with the state’s most vulnerable children, can advocate for better early care and education. I dream of my yard becoming a library and parent training room to support a holistic child care system that accounts for the needs of my community’s children and their families. I sincerely hope all of California’s children can receive hands-on care and daily education in a safe learning environment.”
Read the full Blue Ribbon Commission Report.
In this key victory, we must not forget all the work left so that every family can have access to quality, affordable child care no matter their race, zip code, gender or family type. This means passing our legislation, AB 378, so that collective bargaining for providers becomes a reality. In addition to securing a voice at the table, we must also continue to hold our leaders in Sacramento accountable and ask them to take a bold path for our children’s future. California’s child care system can’t keep running as it does now. The high cost of care, lack of access and poor pay for early childhood educators mean all children and families are losing out.
We must take a more aggressive path to fund California’s child care system because California can afford it. As a result of the Trump tax cuts, in 2018, California’s Fortune 500 companies’ profits ballooned by nearly $50 billion dollars over what they earned in 2017, a total of $254 billion dollars last year. Those corporations benefit tremendously from California’s child care system and many have employees who earn so little that they qualify for subsidies. They must pay their fair share to ensure the Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Child Education recommendations is fulfilled.