Child care providers reach agreement with state over healthcare access
Child Care Providers United (CCPU), the union which represents 40,000 child care providers in California, has reached an agreement with Governor Newsom to provide funding for urgent health care needs and as well as develop a strategy for retirement planning as part of the new state budget.
Many child care providers, a workforce dominated by women of color who often survive on poverty wages, are cheering this as a historic move. The state will set aside $100 million in a trust to meet ongoing health needs.
“Providers stood together and stood strong in our demand that the state address gaps in providers’ access to health insurance; as a result, this agreement will place $100 million in ongoing funds in a trust to help providers access and afford health insurance as well as fund startup costs,” said Patricia Moran, a child care provider in San Jose and member of CCPU’s Joint Labor-Management Committees (JLMCs) for Health Care and Retirement. “Having lost a dear friend and sister child care provider last year because she could not access insurance and lost precious time while cancer advanced in her body, I am overwhelmed with emotion as we celebrate this life-saving victory for thousands of providers.”
The agreement will also fund a study of retirement benefits, as many providers can’t afford to retire, research shows. The budget also extends the current waiver on family fees for the state’s subsidized childcare.
However, many early education and care experts are disappointed that the rates the state pays providers did not get bumped up, despite rising inflation, as part of this budget cycle.
“The Governor has given lip service to both the impacts of inflation on Californians and the important work of caregivers in our state,” said Kristin Schumacher, senior policy analyst for the California Budget and Policy Center, a nonprofit research organization. “But that sentiment didn’t extend to subsidized child care and preschool providers who are offering vital care for children despite being reimbursed with outdated and inadequate payment rates. These outdated payment rates make it really difficult for providers to offer early educators professional wages, keep pace with the rising minimum wage, and afford rising prices for food and supplies. Providers and families suffer when subsidized child care is limited in their communities because of policymakers’ lack of investment.”
After the legislature ratifies the budget and the Governor signs it, the agreement will go before CCPU member providers for a ratification vote.