LOS ANGELES – Members of SEIU Local 99-Child Care Providers United (CCPU), are facing incredible challenges that threaten their ability to care for the children of essential workers, boost California’s recovery, improve their livelihoods and support families. They have been leading a series of actions calling on the state to help providers keep their doors open during this pandemic. At their most recent action on October 15, providers held car caravans in Oakland, Fresno, and Los Angeles at the home of family child providers to call attention to the child care crisis. 

“Especially in this time of school closures and distance learning, the state of California must do more to support our students everywhere where they are learning. This is online with their teachers, or perhaps during a remote session with their special education assistant, and, yes, in the homes of family child care providers like Heidy. Today, we bring a unified message to our state that family child care providers need support as many of our students continue to do distance learning in their homes,” said Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99 and Chairperson of Child Care Providers United. 

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Los Angeles alone has seen 874 closures impacting an estimated 9000 children and their families. Meanwhile, family child care providers have stepped into the gap to care for children participating in distance learning while schools are closed, without additional compensation. In Van Nuys, SEIU Local 99 member and provider Heidy Escobar welcomed the press to her family’s child care and home to shine a light on the dire circumstances we’re facing. Watch our FB live here. 

“While I count myself as one of the fortunate providers who kept her doors open I’d be lying if I said to you I was making enough to sustain my child care. Every penny we’re getting is being eaten up by our additional costs incurred by distance learning. Not to mention our additional and necessary investments in cleaning, sanitation and personal protective equipment to keep us all safe. I’m working more hours since we returned to classes,” said Heidy Escobar, who is working 100/hr a week to keep up the changes necessary to adapt to the needs of school-age children since the pandemic started.

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, Austin Beutner, also joined our rally emphasizing the role early educators are playing now in keeping children connected to safe places to learn, “Child care providers and communities are coming together to provide support to children to continue their education. But there’s a disconnect in the system. Everyone is talking about our economy reopening, but they’re forgetting it can only open if those for whom work is essential can get back to work. They can only do so safely if their children are safe and cared for, if their children can continue with their education So our plea is simple: Let’s not forget the children. This started as a health crisis but now it’s a community crisis and it’s becoming an education crisis. So the time to act is now. Because these children have one opportunity to learn and it’s only going to happen if the state of California recognizes that child care workers are essential workers. The state needs to do the work to make sure there’s adequate funding for providers to be reimbursed for the work they do to support our children. The moment is now — not a month or two from now. These children deserve our support and they deserve it now.”

With California’s K-12 classrooms closed to slow virus spread, family child care providers have taken on the added costs of distance learning (such as upgraded wi-fi and additional staff) to support school-aged children so their parents can work on the frontlines of COVID-19 in health care, grocery stores and other essential roles. 

“I work with children with autism and ADHD. And I can tell you that even more assistance is needed to keep them focused and learning. For many children of essential workers, that help and support comes from their child care provider. We also know children need the right environment to learn. Family child care providers are creating that environment right here in their homes,” said Elizabeth Parker, Special Education Assistant and Vice President of SEIU Local 99.

Family child care providers are currently only reimbursed by the state at the same rate they were paid for these children during school breaks and vacations, not when such intensive learning was required. A recent study showed provider costs associated with the pandemic and move to distance learning have increased 75%.  Child care providers who were already on the brink before COVID-19 simply can’t afford to absorb these costs. We continue to demand action from Governor Newsom and state leaders, imploring them to help us stay in business and support essential workers who depend on child care to do their jobs on the front lines of COVID-19. 

You can stand with providers NOW. Sign our petition here.

To alleviate this crisis we have proposed the following solutions:

  • Increase reimbursement rates for providers who have children in their care participating in distance learning, as some providers have seen their monthly costs increase by up to 75%.
  • Financially support providers who have to close their doors out of an abundance of caution following potential COVID-19 exposure, so that they’re able to reopen  and continue their role as essential workers in our communities
  • Continue to cover families’ portion of fees for children who receive child care subsidies when families keep children home to prevent COVID-19 spread or exposure, instead of levying a tax against providers. 

We know we must stabilize the child care industry to rebuild our economy. Without COVID-19 relief and permanent economic protections for child care providers, real economic recovery in California will be impossible. Accessible care is essential to working parents’ lives, helping them balance their careers and families. 

You can stand with providers NOW. Sign our petition here.