Improving the quality of child care providers offer to families is a primary motivation for many providers who have organized their unions across the country. In fact, a 2010 study by the National Women’s Law Center found nine of the twelve state contracts negotiated by providers included wins for license-exempt providers to have greater access to training, professional development and support structures to gain their license. Here are some of the highlights from Illinois, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, New York, and Connecticut.


  • Rate Increases. Providers won a tiered reimbursement based on a quality rating system for both licensed and license-exempt early educators. Those who met the quality standards and took additional trainings became eligible for 5-20% rate increases on top of their base rates.
  • Food Programs. License-exempt providers, through their union, worked with allies to expand the Child and Adult Care Food Program to all providers. License-exempt providers had access to the food program for the first time.


  • Training. Providers won funding for license-exempt providers to complete training with a $600 bonus for 10 hours and an additional $600 for 10 additional hours.
  • License Incentives. License-exempt providers are offered training to obtain their license and a bonus after obtaining it. A recent contract established a mentorship program where licensed providers were paired with aspiring providers to grow the number of licensed providers.


  • Training. Providers negotiated a required orientation including materials on health, safety, child development, literacy and information on additional resources for license-exempt providers on the subsidy system. The union-negotiated and sponsored training program helped over 500 license-exempt providers complete training in First Aid/CPR, Food Safety, and Child Abuse Recognition in the first 4 years of collective bargaining.


  • License Incentives. Providers fought to establish a formal support system for license-exempt providers to become licensed, including bonuses for those achieving higher levels of certification. The most recent contract, effective 2018, maintains achievement bonuses and training vouchers for up to $400.

New York

  • Facilities Grants. Providers negotiated a quality child care grant, up to $500, for licensed and license-exempt providers who care for children with subsides to purchase equipment and supplies for health and safety items, CPR/First Aid, or to cover operating expenses related to licensure or renewal. There a currently funds to the tune of $2.5 million annually for these grants.
  • Training. $1.5 million dollars are set aside annually for professional development for all license and license-exempt providers. Trainings include topics like labor law, business advice, First Aid/CPR, completion of credentials or degrees in Early Childhood Education, and more. When possible, trainings are also offered in Spanish and other languages.


  • License Incentives. Providers negotiated reimbursements to license-exempt providers for licensing application fees and a one-time $500 bonus for maintaining their licensed status after a year.