By Sylvia Hernandez, Family Child Care Provider, Van Nuys
Sylvia Hernandez (left) enjoys early shopping access at Costco Van Nuys will fellow providers. Sylvia helped providers win front-of-the-line access after hearing about a union sister’s success in Richmond, CA.
I started my journey into early education and development over 19 years ago. My mother, who is also a provider, taught me the ropes of the business and I also spent time working for the Los Angeles Unified School District. That’s what drove me to open my child care. I knew I could make a lasting impact in the lives of so many families if I could offer quality, early education to children from the ages of 0-5, the most vital years in cognitive development. Now, we’re continuing to do that while giving parents’ the peace of mind they need during this unprecedented pandemic.
As a provider, I personally have felt the deep impact of COVID-19 at my center. I run a 24/7 operation so I can care for the children of many parents who work in health care because I can offer flexible, overnight care. I have children of nurses and healthcare workers at Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, Olive View, and other community clinics in my area. Every day I see my parents come in and their faces have the red indentations of their personal protection equipment. I hear the fears they share about contaminating their children and being unable to work if they were infected.
Every day I see my parents come in and their faces have the red indentations of their personal protection equipment. I hear the fears they share about contaminating their children and being unable to work if they were infected.
That’s why it’s so important to me that we have access to the cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment we need to keep them and their children safe. We are in this profession because we care about our community. If providers don’t get to work frontline workers in hospitals, public service, grocery stores and delivery cannot carry on doing their live saving work as we combat COVID-19. Now, people are starting to realize what we already know: child care providers are essential workers.
Without the necessary supplies, many of us would have been forced to shut down. I had to do something. So I gathered all my documentation to ask Costco Van Nuys to allow our provider community to have priority access so that we can buy the supplies we need. At the store, I was told no before I could even explain why we were there.
I felt defeated and upset. But, I regained my courage and was determined to change things. After expressing my frustration to the store via email and talking directly to the Assistant General Manager, we worked out an arrangement to allow family child care providers in my area to shop from 9am-10am every day! This is just one example of what we can accomplish when are organized and fighting for California families as providers with our union. Together, we can combat COVID-19 and ensure all workers are protected.