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Child care providers don’t get sick days

Family Child Care Provider and Raising California Together Co-Chair Tonia McMillan testified at the California Senate Education Hearing on SB 1420 – Occupational Health and Safety Training and it passed the education committee 7-1!

Below is a portion of her testimony that illustrates how SB 1420 is crucial to giving child care providers and center workers the opportunity for training that can help them take care of themselves and the young bodies and minds in their care.

Child care providers don’t get sick days. We can’t leave the children in our care behind to go to the doctor. To do our jobs we have to stay healthy and injury-free.

Whether we work in child care centers or operate day cares in our homes, our work is vital to the families we serve and we are the critical link to learning California needs to help disadvantaged children succeed in school.

But our jobs haven’t been treated that way. Those of us who work in our homes earn just 1/3 of California’s new minimum wage. We don’t have workers compensation insurance or the other protections California has championed for wage earners because we are considered employees of no one.

A few years ago I strained my back carrying an infant in my care. Let me tell you, you don’t realize how your back impacts everything you do until you’ve tried to tie children’s shoes or put them in a high chair when you’re dealing with a bad strain.

Singing, playing and teaching ABC’s is excruciating when you’re in pain. The worst part was just not being able to hug each child goodbye when they left for the day, and let them know I can’t wait for them to come back for more learning tomorrow.

When I was injured, I was lucky to be able to keep working, even though every step was painful. But I worry that slipping or tripping could put me out of work, and cost me my living.

Beyond strains to muscles, child care workers spend 10 or more hours each day around young children who are amazingly cute, but let’s face it, have a whole lot more germs than older kids and adults do. Their germs are worth it to me, but it is a hazard of the job, especially when we are left deciding what kind of cleaning materials to use that can have toxic side-effects on me!

Finally, dealing with stress is a major part of my job. I have stress about keeping the children in my care safe and stress about ensuring I’m meeting each family and child’s needs to develop and thrive. And that’s on good days. Unfortunately due to the haphazard way our child care system works, many times I also have stress worrying whether my low pay will cover all my bills or whether my pay will arrive on time.

I’m proud that Senator Mendoza has put forward this bill. SB 1420 will give child care providers and center workers the opportunity for training that can help us take care of ourselves and the young bodies and minds in our care.


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