Limited paid time off hurts family child care providers the most

“When you find yourself working day in and day out without taking time to recharge your mind and body…burnout will start to set in,” says Renaldo Sanders, a family child care provider in the city of Compton.

Renaldo has been a child care provider for over 35 years and provides care for the bus drivers, grocery workers, and nurses in her community.

“I’ve adjusted my times here so that we can work with their rotating schedules.”

Parents drop their kids off as early as 6:00 am and pick them up as late as 6:30 pm. The children in her care are aged from two to 10-years-old, and she sees about 7-10 kids a day.

“I love what I do. I am so passionate about providing the best quality care that I can, and I know I am essential for helping these children achieve their maximum potential.”

Renaldo cherishes each family in her care, but like many providers with limited paid time off, it can be a struggle to find time to care for herself and her own family. On average, she spends about 50 hours per week working directly with the kids in her program and another 10-15 hours per week on preparation, “cleaning my child care space, planning activities, planning the menu, and shopping for food and materials.”

Her weekends and evenings often include phone calls with parents, interviews with potential families, and book-keeping. That’s a 60-70 hour workweek.

“Us childcare providers don’t ask for much. We know this is the line of work we chose, but we also know we deserve a break now and then… a break without the stress and worry of not being able to afford a day off.”

Under the current system, providers can take only ten days of paid time off per year. This includes holidays, time for continuing education and training, the time needed to rest and recover from illness, and time to spend with their own children and families.

“It hurt me when my granddaughter reacted to her vaccine, and I was not able to take time off to take care of her. It hurts me when my family leaves on vacation for a reunion, and I am not able to take those days off to join them. These might be little things for others, but it is a big deal for me.”

Renaldo joins the fight with thousands of other providers seeking paid time off. It’s a basic benefit, she says, that recognizes the humanity in their work.

“Having time off must be a priority for child care providers. It is important for our physical and mental health, and it also benefits the children and families I serve.”

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