Max Arias, Chairperson of Child Care Providers United (CCPU) and Executive Director of SEIU Local 99; Johanna Puno Hester, Assistant Executive Director of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930; and Riko Mendez, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521, issued the following statement on behalf of the 40,000 child care providers in California represented by CCPU after Congress approved a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package:
“Funding in this stimulus package aimed at keeping child care providers open is a much overdue downpayment on meeting needs that allow parents to work, children to learn, and providers to stay open safely. We are grateful that Congressional leaders responded to the urgent demands of child care providers and families to address the higher costs of child care, serving children of essential workers, and other unprecedented needs providers face in educating and caring for California’s children. We join the frontline workers and struggling Californians who are calling for significantly larger investment to help Californians facing hunger, eviction, inequality and incredible risks on the front lines of COVID-19.
“California has seen close to 6,000 providers close their doors this year and CCPU has been sounding the alarm on the need for additional funding and support to prevent the utter decimation of our child care system. Just last week, providers presented a set of proposals to the State to immediately shore up gaps in keeping providers open for families who need child care and extending state policies that were put in place to stabilize the industry. Providers who have been struggling heroically for months to keep their doors open can’t wait any longer for relief; we urge the state to expedite this funding to providers without any delay.
“Over the past 6 months, child care providers have donned PPE and protested publicly with increasing urgency to ask for more support from state leaders. Keeping the child care system running will require additional funding for providers supporting children in distance learning, providing pay to providers when they have to close their doors following a potential exposure, and to immediately move forward with reimbursements promised in October but that have yet to be paid.
“Every day more children of frontline workers lose access to care. Close to 60,000 kids lost access to care when their provider was forced to close her doors earlier this year. Our nurses, grocery store workers, and other essential workers cannot afford to lose access to care. The state must seriously invest in not just retention but recruitment efforts as well to keep the child care system from completely collapsing.
“So while this agreement marks a small step forward after months of inaction, it does not come close to meeting the enormity of the crisis we face in this moment. State leaders must act to get this money disbursed immediately and dedicate additional state resources to make sure we still have child care providers to support our frontline workers and support our economic recovery.”