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Sen. Kevin de León Joins Raising California Together Coalition To Declare Strengthening Child Care, Lifting Up Working Women a Top Priority for 2015

Surrounded by children, working parents, community leaders, child care providers, other early education workers and members of the Raising California Coalition, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León announced that he will introduce the Raising Child Care Quality and Accessibility Act. With the support of Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, the Legislative Women’s Caucus Chair, and with Speaker Toni Atkins as the principal co-author, the Act seeks to strengthen California’s child care system and lift up working women and their children out of a cycle of poverty.

“Strengthening our child care system is a priority for the growth of our economy and offers a ladder of economic opportunity for parents in low-wage jobs,” De León said. “Safe and reliable child care allows low-income families to work and to provide for their children.”

Today, less than 1 in 10 eligible infants and toddlers are able to access subsidized child care because of insufficient state investment in helping parents afford quality child care, which can eat-up  14-44% or more of a parent’s paycheck.

At a news conference today, parents shared their stories about how quality child care, delivered by dedicated child care providers, is essential for mothers in low-wage jobs to participate in the workforce:

“Having good child care makes such a difference for me and my children — I can work, and they’re learning in a safe and warm environment,” said Brenda Pinedo, a parent from Long Beach whose children are in subsidized care. “Expanding support for low-cost child care is great for me and my kids and great for children and mothers in our community.”

The Act will:

  • Expand access to quality care that supports the development of very low-income children by adding new slotsfor alternative payment vouchers.
  • Extend collective bargaining rights to family child care providersto advocate for improvements to child care quality and access.
  • Establishing a training partnership program between the State and provider organizationthat would identify gaps in training and education and recommend collaborations and strategies to improve quality. The partnership would prioritize opportunities to combine federal and private funding to add capacity to existing state training resources.
  • Authorize a study of best practicesfor parent engagement to best understand how to support parents.

Parents’ struggles to access quality child care are made worse because many child care providers themselves are struggling to make ends meet. In fact, after accounting for expenses, the average family child care provider earns just $4.98 per hour. Partly as a result, this workforce experiences an extremely high turnover rate, with up to one-third of providers closing their doors each year, which creates chaos for already struggling families.

“Child care providers are proud of the critical role we play in helping moms put food on the table by supporting them as they work long and irregular hours in low-wage jobs,” said Tisa Kelley, a child care provider from Sacramento. “We’re grateful Senator De León recognizes that strengthening the early education workforce is a critical part of the solution California needs to help more moms—including child care providers–lift their families out of poverty and position their children to thrive.”

Today’s event comes after an unprecedented coalition—Raising California Together—has unifiedchild care providers, agencies, parents, educators, clergy and interfaith networks, unions, small businesses, women’s and children’s advocates, community groups, and public health organizations around solutions that go beyond the minimum wage to lift families out of poverty by increasing access to quality child care and early learning choices.

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