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California child care providers demand higher wages

Photo credit: CCPU staff.
California child care providers demand higher wages
By Mila Myles ·
California child care providers demand higher wages
Photo credit: CCPU staff.

LOS ANGELES – Hundreds of Child Care Providers United (CCPU) members, advocates and parents were joined by California State Sen. Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) on Tuesday as they marched to the state capitol to demand that Gov. Gavin Newsom sit down at the bargaining table and raise wages for family child care providers.

CCPU California brings together 40,000 family child care providers and is a partnership between UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, SEIU Local 99, and SEIU Local 521.

For months, child care providers have been at the bargaining table with the state. Yet, state leaders still refuse to offer any substantial proposals to providers who face poverty or acknowledge the crucial role they play in the economy. California’s child care system has been in crisis for years, with providers making less than the current state minimum wage of $14 an hour.

Although the Newsom administration has expressed a commitment to historic new investments in child care and early learning, the investments are meaningless without immediate action to ensure a stable child care workforce, CCPU members say.

“He has been talking about all this money the state is going to put into child care. I have news for you, Governor Newsom: You can invest all the money in the world into the child care system, but if you don’t invest in the people who actually provide the care, you are throwing all that money away,” said Charlotte Neal, a child care provider from Sacramento. “You want to talk about improving the child care system? The ‘system’ doesn’t care for California’s children, we do. The governor has a choice to make right now: He can choose to pay family child care providers more, or he can watch as more and more of us are forced to close down.”

These contract negotiations come less than two years after California family child care providers won collective bargaining rights following a 17-year struggle. In September 2019, Newsom signed into law AB 378, authored by Limón, which finally allowed child care workers to participate in collective bargaining.

On Tuesday, Limón struck an urgent tone about investing in providers.

“Right now, our entire child care system is at risk. As costs for providers continue to skyrocket, thousands have been forced to close,” Limón said.By compensating providers for what they deserve and investing in their skills, we can improve availability and resources, making it possible for more families to access quality, affordable child care right in their communities.”

Increased operational and cleaning costs have made it even more difficult for providers to maintain their small businesses and support their own families. And, as more providers close, more children and parents are left without reliable care.

“Every time one of our providers closes their doors, up to 14 families lose their ability to work. Some scramble to find backup care, and others lose their ability to work altogether,” explained Johanna Puno Hester, vice chairperson of CCPU, an assistant executive director of UDW/AFSCME Local 3930 and an AFSCME vice president. “If we want to get this state back on track, we can’t afford to lose even one more provider.”

CCPU members have spent the past year preparing and proposing solutions that will overhaul California’s child care infrastructure and allow them to lead the nation in providing the best possible early childhood care. It’s now up to the state to listen and act to support child care providers at the bargaining table, members say.  

“Child care providers are the workers that make all work possible. California needs to start giving them the respect they deserve. That means working with us at the bargaining table for higher rates. Right now,” said Hester. “It’s time for all of us to come together in solidarity: providers, parents, our labor siblings, our allies in child care and early childhood education, legislators and all Californians. Child care providers have been there for California, and now it’s time for California to be there for child care providers.”

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You can view the entire press conference here. To learn more about CCPU California’s contract campaign, please visit

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