SACRAMENTO – Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Building a Better Early Care and Education System Act (AB 378) by Assemblymember Monique Limón into law today, setting the stage for California’s largest union election in decades. Approximately 40,000 family child care providers —mainly Black, Brown and Asian women who care for the children of some of the state’s lowest paid workers— now have the right to negotiate with the state and form a union.
“This is truly a historic day for child care providers. This means we will have the power to fundamentally change what it’s like to work in early childhood education in California,” said Carolyn Carpenter, an Oakland family child care provider and member of Child Care Providers United. “Every worker should have the opportunity to form a union, no matter what work they do.”
“Together, we can fix our fragmented child care system that has kept our wages low and the price of child care high for working families,” said Alicia Turner, a family provider in Patterson, California and a member of CCPU.
There are 40,000 child care providers who care for children that receive subsidized child care in California. The median income for these providers is $12 an hour, but some licensed providers make as little as $5 an hour per child. Fifty-eight percent rely on government assistance programs to support their families. Child care providers are overwhelmingly women of color, including many immigrants, whose important work – taking care of and educating young children – was never recognized by our laws.
Child care providers want to create a pathway to prosperity by negotiating higher wages and increasing benefits. They also aim to transform the industry by improving access to training and increasing the standards of quality care.
With low pay, cuts to state subsidies, and a lack of benefits, child care providers struggle to retain talent and keep their doors open, and parents pay the price by losing their trusted caregivers with little or no notice. Only 15 percent of child care providers receive health insurance from their job, compared with nearly 50 percent of workers in other occupations.
“My child care provider, Charlotte Neal is like family. My three children and I love her and depend on her care every work day. I drive for Amazon and my schedule can change dramatically. She always comes through for us, so I’m glad she will be able to form her union and fight for a better child care system,” said Ruby Chege of Sacramento. “This law will not only help child care providers support their own families, it will help parents like me who need assistance find and keep child care providers we trust.”
In 2017, eight out of nine children eligible for subsidized child care (more than 2 million children) did not receive services from a full-day program, and only 228,100 children eligible for subsidized care were enrolled in full-day state programs.
AB 378 allows family child care providers to advocate for improvements to the child care system, such as greater access for children and families, and to negotiate for pay that can support their own families. Even without formal recognition of their important role in the system, providers won more state funding for early care and education, improved training for providers and expanded access to care for more families. Child care providers have been uniting their co-workers across the state since 2003. They organize under the banner Child Care Providers United (CCPU). Their efforts were supported by SEIU and AFSCME-UDW.
Their organizing effort is the largest in California since 1997 when homecare workers were granted the right to collectively bargain. Once CCPU wins a democratic election of child care providers, California will be legally required to negotiate with providers over rates, training requirements, and other state government decisions that impact subsidized child care providers.
With this law, California becomes the 12th state to recognize collective bargaining for child care providers.
Child Care Providers United California (CCPU) is a union of family child care providers across the state who are members of SEIU Local 99, SEIU Local 521, and UDW/AFSCME Local 3930.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Anthony Rendon, Speaker, California State Assembly
“Children’s early care and education is the foundation of California’s future. People who work hard to provide that early nurturing and guidance for children deserve the organizing power that will help support family child care homes. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to this law’s success.”
Kim Kruckel, Executive Director, Child Care Law Center:
“Governor Newsom’s signature for AB 378 recognizes the essential role providers play in helping children to grow and learn. 40,000 child care providers can now use their expertise and experience in a formal seat with the state, to advocate for our children, support our families, and strengthen our communities. They’ll do this the very same way they have for over 15 years –educating policymakers to take action until every child in our state gets the strong start they deserve to achieve their full potential.”
Linda Asato, Executive Director, California Child Care Resource & Referral Network
“Home-based providers are often left out of conversations about their professional development and the resources they need to provide the quality care families depend on. Collective bargaining will allow providers a vital and amplified voice in decisions that impact them and the children in their care. Resource & referral agencies have partnered with home-based child care providers for nearly 40 years and see everyday that they are integral parts of their communities, most likely to care for infants and toddlers, more willing to provide care during non-traditional hours, and often more affordable options for families.”
Mary Ignatius, Parent Voices CA Statewide Organizer
“Our inadequately funded child care system has left us pitting the needs of parents against the needs of providers, predominantly affecting low-income women of color, and making it more difficult for all children to get a strong start in life. When parents and child care providers are empowered to find solutions to the challenges they face in this system, everyone wins. The signing of this bill ensures that the family child care providers we love have a real chance of getting the dignity and respect they deserve!”
Clarissa Doutherd, Parent Voices Oakland executive director and Raising California Together coalition co-chair
“Parent Voices Oakland is proud to support AB 378 ensuring the family child care workers receive the dignity and rights they deserve, while providing for the next generation of California. In the two decades that Parent Voices has advocated for access to affordable high-quality child care in the state of California, maintaining a robust child care provider workforce has consistently been a barrier in families securing care. It is increasingly difficult to recruit and develop new child care providers as the sector is so deeply undervalued.”
Rusty Hicks, Chair, California Democratic Party
“Today is a historic day for the over 40,000 child care providers across California who’ve fought tirelessly for a seat at the table to strengthen their profession and lead California to qualify, affordable child care for all. California Democrats applaud the courageous workforce – comprised mainly of women of color – who are leading the nation’s largest movement of workers organizing through their unions, a movement that took a huge step forward today with Governor Newsom’s signature on AB 378 by Assemblymember Limón.”