"Children Learning, Parents Earning, Communities Growing"
May 17, 2021 | Issue #20
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May Revision filled with missed opportunities

by Denyne Colburn, CEO of CAPPA. On Friday, I grabbed a cup of coffee and optimistically tuned in to watch the release of Governor Newsom's May Revision. Very shortly after the press conference began, my optimism was gone and replaced by sadness. In a year where there is a $75 billion surplus, failure to make a meaningful investment in childcare was largely ignored. More than ignored. Governor Newsom has put forward a TK proposal that will shutter many amazing high quality child care centers and family child care providers.

The release of the May Revision did include 100,000 new child care slots. However, it put no monies into increasing child care reimbursements that remain one of the lowest funded field's in the state, between $3.20 - $9.50 per hour. California's center and family child care industry is delivered mainly on the backs of Black and Brown women. Based on the governor's failure to address the rates in a meaningful way, he is guaranteeing that those who choose to work in the child care field will continue to be impoverished.

The governor put forward a bold proposal building on AB 22 (see below for more detailed information). The TK proposal can only be provided on school grounds, will be publicly funded, takes monies away from General Funded child care and moves more monies into Proposition 98 for schools, and disregards the needs of real working families and our poorest families. I do not make these observations lightly, but base them on history and listening to the community programs and family child care providers that serve working families.

For California's poorest working families, and again we are mainly talking about women of color who are heads of households, although 100,000 child care slots are provided, California has lost nearly a third of its family child care homes and centers since the pandemic. We are in a time where someone looking for a job oftentimes can receive a signing bonus of $500 or more for entry level work, a bonus equal to a half of what the governor is keeping existing monthly provider rates too. So our poorest working families that are eligible to receive a subsidy are going to struggle to find child care. In other parts of the governor's release, he references programs to combat homelessness. How can we help the governor to understand that providing child care to a struggling family may be the difference in them keeping their families off the street?

Finally, let's talk about equity for child care providers and families. For schools that offer TK, teachers will be provided livable salaries with full benefits, school year hours, vacation time and all holidays off. For family child care homes and high quality centers, the salaries, benefits and care for less than six hours per day based on a school year cannot be matched. For working families in hospitality, medical, retail and food to note a few, access to early learning and care must be provided in hours that also support their employ needs. Oftentimes families need after hour and weekend care. For our migrant families that work in the fields, they may need care starting at 4:40 am until noon, then again at 6:00 pm.

It is important that this governor reassess his proposal and truly put forward a budget that supports the real needs of California's blue collar workers, recognizes the contributions of family child care providers and centers essential to a healthy economy, and does not pit schools against child care. Thankfully, the Legislative Women's Caucus and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon understand the plight of struggling families and family child care providers.

If I could speak directly to Governor Newsom, I would say, "California is better than this proposal. Let's bring our public and private family child care providers and centers together to strengthen a coordinated learning and care system that supports both needs of children without harming families."