"Children Learning, Parents Earning, Communities Growing"
May 24, 2021 | Issue #21
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May Revision harms low-income women & family child care providers

by Denyne Colburn, CEO of CAPPA. It has been a week since the release of Governor Newsom’s May Revision. Since that time, both the State Assembly and the State Senate have had their respective hearings on its contents. The May Revision touts 100,000 new child care slots, expansion of TK, and the move of most child care and early learning programs from the California Department of Education to the Department of Social Services. 

For advocates that are in the trenches fighting to get family child care providers and centers funded at livable rates, increasing access to child care, supporting both the work needs of families and the nurturing/learning needs of children from birth to 13, we are still reeling akin to being kicked in the gut.  Further, for me I am confused as to why the Governor has put so much time and energy into creating roughly 400 new proposals, when programs such as access to child care was largely ignored. Further, his proposals to combat homelessness and poverty are fine. But what about the programs that already exist, already combat these issues, have data to show they make meaningful impacts to breaking multi-generational cycles of poverty? What about child care?

Failure to make a meaningful investment in raising the rates of California's child care and early learning workforce will collapse our child care field. Failure to address the economic inequities that peril the early care and learning workforce, will assure that the economic devastation on family child care and center-based providers will continue for years to come. Finally, lack of access to child care and early learning is shouldered mostly by women.

Okay, but I hear you say, "The Governor included 100,000 new slots." Yes he did. But let's talk about who will use those slots, providers that will accept subsidized rates, and how are families to be enrolled.

Yes, 100,000 new child care slots for California's lowest income families. Data shows that these slots will mainly go to Black and Brown women, who are also single head of households. However, the slots have lost their value as no monies were included to increase child care reimbursements that remain one of the lowest funded field's in the state, between $3.20 - $9.50 per hour. Family child care providers and centers are not going to take on a subsidized family when their reimbursement does not cover their costs to provide care. Lastly, the public and community based family support structures, alternative payment programs, that meet with the families, determine their eligibility for child care and make the payments to the child care provider chosen by the parent are expected to at least double their caseloads. This doubling of the caseloads comes with no funding.

If I reflect on the paragraph above, minus any new investments, a budget enacted as proposed will exacerbate racial inequity and subject our poorest of families and children access to lower levels of care. This budget says that women must continue to shoulder the burden of lack of child care. That California's center and family child care providers, mainly Black and Brown women, are incentivized to leave and make more taking a $14.00 minimum wage job than staying and making between $3.20 - $9.50 per hour.

Thankfully, the needs of California's lowest income working moms and the child care and early learning workforce are being lifted up and being heard by the Legislative Women's Caucus, the Assembly and the Senate. Each has but forward a proposal or framework that better supports and values family child care providers and centers with meaningful rates, slots, and infrastructure funding. I am heartened that there are so many within the halls of the State Capitol willing to take a stand for better rates for child care and meaningful access for families.