What’s at stake is the availability of child care options for families, the number of women in the workplace, and the future of early education for our youngest learners.
Risking their own health and safety, child care providers continued caring for children throughout the pandemic. Their dedication and commitment to families received praise from Gov. Gavin Newsom, yet he is now refusing to negotiate on the legislature’s plan to increase low provider rates.
These providers, mostly women of color, kept the economy afloat during the pandemic so that doctors, nurses, grocery clerks and delivery drivers could work knowing their children were cared for and safe. The median hourly wage for providers in 2019 was $13.43, which is less than the state’s minimum wage, forcing nearly half of these critical w)orkers to rely on public assistance. The poverty rate for early care educators in California is currently 17%, which is nearly 10% higher than the state average for workers in general.
While deeply devoted to the critical work of nurturing children, they are increasingly forced to leave the field to work in retail or fast food, where the pay and benefits are better. Recent estimates indicate that, due to the pandemic, the state has permanently lost 57,000 child care slots, and about 8,500 licensed child care sites in California have recently closed. The abysmal pay and challenging circumstances of being a provider is making our state’s child care shortage worse.
These child care closures impact the overall workforce, particularly women. More than 2.3 million U.S. women have left the labor market since the pandemic began, many citing child care as the reason. And new data shows 1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers due to the impact of COVID-19. Statewide, licensed child care is available to a quarter of families; in Los Angeles County, it’s 22% of families, according to the nonprofit Children Now.
Though prison guards and even the governor, himself, have received pay raises, child care workers have been left to toil away. If the budget passes without rate increases for child care providers, the state may see an even steeper decline in care options for families, which will have dire consequences for California’s economy. You can demand action by using the hashtags:
Or contact the governor and tell him the future of child care depends on these rate increases: #CABudget #RaisetheRates #CALeg
Phone: (916) 445-2841
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Watch this video from California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA) Advocacy: