Today, the 40,000 child care providers in California represented by Child Care Providers United (CCPU) announced a second landmark agreement with the state that will further stabilize an industry that has been on the brink of collapse since long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and begin to rebuild the early education capacity California’s economy needs to recover.
The agreement, made with the Governor will be enacted upon approval by the Legislature, includes additional financial support for providers who have faced tremendous financial losses from fluctuating enrollment and shouldered steep costs for supporting online learning. The agreement supports California’s working families by funding increased child care capacity statewide, including support for providers who closed their doors temporarily during the pandemic. Union leaders made the following comments on the agreement:
“This agreement is welcome news to providers like me who have been living on a razor’s edge throughout the pandemic, forced to close our doors to keep our communities safe time and time again, without knowing if we’d ever be able to re-open,” said Patricia Moran, a child care provider in San Jose and member of CCPU’s COVID-19 workgroup. “This agreement shows when we stick together as providers and union members to fight for what’s right for the children and families we serve; our voices will be heard. We are building momentum to win a child care system worthy of our children’s future and to make California a national leader in early learning.”
“Child care providers across the state have faced immense financial and emotional burdens since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As they saw operating costs skyrocket, they also supported the children of frontline workers and created stability in their homes, with some providers extending their hours just so frontline nurses could take extra precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19 to their children. These protections and supports are long overdue. They were won because child care providers who, on top of their more than full-time jobs, spoke out and advocated for their profession and for the families and children they serve,” said Max Arias, Chairperson of CCPU.
“This agreement puts California’s child care providers in a strong position to win even greater improvements in early education as we negotiate our first-ever contract with the state. We hope to see the legislature approve this agreement swiftly,” said Johanna Puno Hester, Vice Chairperson of CCPU. “The pandemic took its greatest economic toll on women, demonstrating why a strong child care infrastructure is vital to building an equitable economy that works for all Californians. We are proud that a union led by women of color is showing the way forward, strengthening early learning and women’s vital role in our economy. We also expect the state to partner with us in a robust way as we continue negotiating our first full contract, just as it did in this short-term agreement.”
The agreement includes:
Money to stabilize providers including $600 per child stipends for providers caring for subsidized children; $3500 stabilization stipends for all licensed providers, including those temporarily closed to support them reopening; extend policies that provide paid COVID closure days and reimbursing subsidy providers based on enrollment so that they aren’t penalized for children’s absences; and mental health support designed to support the expertise, best practices and well-being of providers and the families they serve impacted by COVID-19.
Money to support families including a $25 million investment to expand child care capacity, including helping closed providers reopen, and address unmet child care needs, and waiving fees for all families.
Today’s agreement is the second significant breakthrough won by CCPU since the COVID-19 pandemic struck California. Buoyed by these early wins, union members have set their sights on negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement with the state that addresses provider compensation and benefits, training and professional development, and other priorities to strengthen early learning for children and families.
Even before COVID-19 forced the closure of thousands of child care businesses, most California families lived in child care deserts where the need for care far outnumbers slots available. The union hopes to continue to work collaboratively with the State of California to build a 21st-century, high-quality child care system in California that meets the needs of every child, parent, and early educator.