Child Care Matters

September 30th, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 378. The bill is important because it grants in-home childcare providers the ability to negotiate with the state of California for retirement benefits, health care, and wage subsidies.

Predominantly women of colors, childcare providers’ prevailing rates are shockingly low. Technically small business owners, they do not have an explicit employer to negotiate a contract with. Many in-home childcare providers can barely make ends meet, and they can be very isolated—they work in their homes, and they often don’t have access to a larger network of other providers. That is why childcare providers have been fighting for 16 years to form a union of their own.

The title “A Labor of Love” is a direct quote from the childcare providers we met. It is also a concept referred by the feminist Marxist, Sylvia Federici, in her propaganda of the “Wage for Housework” campaign, used to indicate that unwaged housework is often mystified as love, a labor that has been imposed and naturalized as women’s duty.

Four decades after the campaign, housework can now be outsourced to domestic workers and childcare providers, yet it is still seriously undervalued—workers of waged housework are predominately underpaid. When the providers said childcare is “a labor of love”, they do not merely stress the fact that childcare is a labor, but a labor requiring a significant investment of love. This love does not come from nowhere; it comes from the nutritious meals they make, the educational tools and storybooks they prepare, and the safe playrooms they design; it comes from their time and energy, their labor and funding.

Child care providers are the bedrock of their communities.

We understand the hopes and dreams parents have for their children, and the challenges of raising and educating a child while working or attending school. We want what parents want—to provide their kids with the best care and education possible. That’s why we see ourselves as partners with parents in raising their children. We also do so much more.

We’re Giving Kids a Head Start

A child’s early years are a critical period in a young person’s development. The foundation that is built through a child’s participation in quality early childhood education sets them on a path to positive economic and social impacts lasting well into adulthood, from higher educational attainment and less chance of involvement in criminal activity, to higher status employment and higher earnings¹. Early care and education benefits the children and families who participate and yields long lasting benefits for society as a whole. Nobel laureate in economics, James Heckman, found that the long-term, economic return on investment in high-quality early care and education programs can yield up to a 13% return (Heckman 2016).

We’re There When Parents Can’t Be

It’s our business and passion to care for the well-being of children and, for us, that means caring for the well-being of parents too. We ensure working parents are able to invest in their families by allowing them to work or go to school, while giving them the peace-of-mind of knowing their children are in a safe, healthy and enriching environment. We pick up kids from school when parents can’t. When parents are running late to pick up their kids, our care continues. When there’s a family emergency, we’re there. A survey found that parents prefer in-home family child care because they know and trust their provider, trust their sanitation and cleanliness practices, and report better communication with providers². We’re flexible, accessible, and adaptable to the needs of parents and our communities.

We’re Early Detectors of Special Needs

From the ages of 0-5, child care providers can tell a lot about the emotional and mental development of a child. Being able to provide more focused, individualized attention, we develop strong bonds with children in our care that allow us to track their progression and recognize issues they may face with learning. Early diagnosis of a disability means parents receive the resources to support the healthy development of their child when it matters most—in their child’s early years. Early support improves a child’s ability to reach their academic potential, but also prevents the development of low self-esteem and behavior problems that could further hinder their ability to learn. And with our experience and the bond we have with their child, we’re better able to help parents navigate the challenges of raising a child with special needs.

We’re Vital in California’s Economic Recovery

More than 6 in 10 California children under the age of 12 live in families where all parents are working³. For this reason, child care providers are a critical component of the state and nation’s economic infrastructure, ensuring that children have a safe space to learn and grow while parents work. Many providers in California stepped up to the challenge of delivering care and distance learning support for families during the COVID-19 pandemic and recession—particularly for children with parents who are essential workers. But the state’s child care system is on the verge of collapse. California’s economy can only recover and thrive when children have a safe place to learn and grow, parents can work with the peace of mind that their children are safe, and providers are supported in sustaining the critical child care industry.

¹   Sparling, J., C. T. Ramey and S. L. Ramey. 2007. “The Abecedarian Experience” in Early Child Development From Measurement to Action: A Priority for Growth and Equity, Ed. M. E. Young, International Bank for Reconstruction/World Bank, Washington, DC.
²   Child Care Resource & Referral Network, COVID-19 Parent Survey, 2020
³   Annie E. Casey Foundation, KIDS COUNT Data Center 2019