Yvonne sorts through each child’s assignments weekly to keep them on track

For the past 14 years, Yvonne Cottage has been providing children with a quality early learning program in Lancaster.

“I went from having a full-time job as an executive assistant for a jewelry company to running my own family child care business. I came into this field to make a change in my community.”

Monday through Friday from 5:30 am to 6:00 pm, she provides child care for hardworking families who are on the frontlines as nurses, assistants, and aides, “I do it because early childhood care and education is for me, it’s a calling, a ministry, it’s a purpose.”

Despite her great passion for early care and education, after 14 years in the profession, she thinks about what will happen when she’s no longer able to be a provider or decides to retire. “A lot of the times when I am working with the kids, I am thinking in the back of my mind about retirement, and what’s going to happen when I am finally ready to retire.”

“If we don’t get assistance to save for retirement, the child-care industry will continue to struggle with finding, hiring, and retaining more providers.”

A lack of retirement savings worries Yvonne, she wants to be able to maintain her standard of living once she stops working, without having to depend on anyone else for assistance.

Unfortunately, not having enough money for retirement is a reality for far too many family child care providers. Without savings or a retirement plan, providers who dedicate years teaching and caring for our children are forced to spend their senior years in poverty.

“We all have that same worry – not enough money for retirement – and it would give me peace of mind and allow me to continue to do what I do best if I had a retirement plan.”

As a member of Child Care Providers United, Yvonne is urging the state of California to give providers like her the opportunity to retire with dignity after dedicating years to teaching and caring for our youngest learners. “It’s almost impossible to save for retirement, I’ve tried to, but I can’t,” says Yvonne.

For Yvonne, low pay rates and a deep commitment to helping working families mean there is little left to put away for the future.

“There are times when I literally give our groceries to the families I service or give them whatever it is that they need. Food? Clothes? A car to borrow? There’s nothing I will not do for these families.”

In California, the child care providers are overwhelmingly female and older than women in the state’s overall workforce. This worries Yvonne as she thinks about the future of child care.

“If we don’t get assistance to save for retirement, the child-care industry will continue to struggle with finding, hiring, and retaining more providers. We will not have people who want to come into this field, which means no new minds, no new brains, no new ideas, and no new providers to meet the growing need for child care.”