"Children Learning, Parents Earning, Communities Growing"
June 7, 2021 | Issue #23
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Increasing child care rates is an equity issue

by Denyne Colburn, CEO of CAPPA. Thankfully, last week the Senate and the Assembly Budget Committees included as part of a supported agreement $1.1 billion in ongoing funds to implement Child Care Rate Reform for family child care and state preschool providers. This historical show of support has the potential to once again spark real interest for individuals considering pursuit of early care and learning as a vocation.

There are many reasons why child care rates must be reformed and increased. I would like to look at this issue from the lens of our existing workforce and those that are eligible to receive a subsidized child care voucher.

California’s subsidized child care and early learning system is carried mainly on the backs of low-income women, and mainly Black and Brown women who themselves are struggling more than ever to make ends meet. Overwhelmingly, those on child care waiting lists and those currently using a subsidized child care voucher too are mainly Black and Brown single women head of households. 

If we reflect on the existing rates that we are looking to increase ranging from roughly $3.20 per hour to $9.50 per hour depending on licensure status, then we should be appalled. California has let child care providers supporting the most fragile of working families fall to the point that they too are impoverished. And although these providers stayed open during COVID putting their own health and that of their families in peril, the most important decision maker in the state, Governor Newsom, failed to acknowledge their contributions as meaningful when he released his May Revision.

Actions speak louder than words. Failure by this administration to make a meaningful investment in the rates of child care providers says this workforce is not important enough to exist out of poverty. Further, families that rely on a child care voucher will not have real access to high-quality child care centers and licensed child care homes. Why? Because these settings will lose money if they take on enrollment of a subsidized family. 

Finally, if the subsidized child care and early learning field is comprised mainly of women of color, and if the users of subsidized child care vouchers are mainly women of color, the only conclusion is that their value and importance is not important enough. Governor Newsom, if you read this, child care rate reform is an equity issue for the workforce and an equity issue of our most fragile families being able to access the same quality of care as the private market.