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Center for Labor Research and Education


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AB101 would help stabilize child care system

San Francisco Chronicle

On Child Care Unionization

Parents need the infrastructure of reliable, affordable child care to work productively, just as they need highways and roads and public transportation. But this critical part of California’s infrastructure is at risk.

While the state subsidizes the child care expenses of 300,000 children, there are nearly 200,000 children on waiting lists. Additionally, California’s child care providers are leaving the industry – last year alone, 5,700 family child care providers closed their small businesses.

A bill that could help stabilize home-based family child care, Assembly Bill 101, awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. It would authorize child care providers to choose whether to be represented by a union, giving them a voice in important decisions that affect quality, training and the ability to effectively run their small businesses.

Under one organization, providers could work more effectively with the state to develop solutions to inefficiencies in the current system. For example, some providers have faced months-long delays in receiving payments from the local agencies that administer state child care funds, making it difficult for some of these providers to stay in business.

If this bill becomes law, it would give child care providers a means to work with the state to improve payment processes, helping to stabilize the workforce.

Providers in 14 other states already have representation, which has led to improvement in some states. For example, in Illinois providers negotiated a tiered payment system that incentivizes quality. In Oregon and Washington, providers worked with the state to create and promote training programs.

Access to early care and education enables parents, especially mothers, to go to work. Nearly half a million California households rely on paid child care services. Workers’ careers are disrupted when child care is unreliable, unaffordable or just unavailable. Studies have repeatedly found that a reliable child care system increases businesses’ bottom lines by improving worker productivity, reducing absenteeism and decreasing staff turnover.

Research has also shown that high-quality early care and education can help lay a foundation for a child’s future academic success, thereby fostering the development of a productive workforce that can meet the future needs of California’s economy.

Even during periods of recession and high unemployment, it is important to maintain the early care and education system. If the system weakens during times of economic contraction, a child care shortage during recovery will hinder new economic growth.

Allowing providers a stronger voice in the early care and education system would benefit the small business owners who provide care, the families who rely on the system and the California economy as a whole.

California’s child care industry

Spending on California early care and education supports:

— Up to 172,000 direct jobs caring for children, including as many as 98,000 jobs in home-based family child care.

— 14,000 jobs at child care suppliers

— 18,000 jobs at the grocery stores, health care centers and other local businesses where child care workers spend their income