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Child care with no power or running water just won’t work.

Family Child Care Provider and Raising California Together Co-Chair Tonia McMillan testified at the Assembly Education Hearing on AB 2133 – Provider Appeal Process for Child Care Subsidies through the Alternative Payment Program by Assemblymember Kansen Chu.

Below is a portion of her testimony that illustrates how AB 2133 would address a huge crack in our child care system–one that destabilizes child care providers and the families we serve.

I have been a child care provider for more than 20 years, and I can tell you in that time it has only become harder to earn a living doing the early education work I love.

Those of us who work in our homes earn just 1/3 of California’s new minimum wage . And because we are not considered employees, child care providers are not covered by minimum wage laws. This mean we won’t benefit from the historic $15 minimum wage law passed in this Capitol just a few short weeks ago.

This fact makes it even more crucial that the current system in place to pay providers for their work is effective and in instances where it’s not, that there is a process in place where providers can resolve their grievances when issues do not get addressed at the local level with a payment agency .

While many times the child care system works well, the fact of the matter is that any hiccup has a devastating effect on our child care programs. Sometimes we are told weeks after the fact that a parent is no longer eligible for child care assistance, and there’s no way for us to be paid for the care we’ve already provided. When we’re already living on the edge in poverty, a delay or denial of payment for one child means we may not be able to put gas in our car.

A paperwork error leading to under payment or late payment means we could have our utilities turned off. And let me tell you, child care with no power or running water just won’t work.

When providers receive payments when we expect them, we have more money to help pay assistants, purchase food and supplies for the children, and everything else it takes to operate a child care. And let me also say, who among us doesn’t want to be paid on time and paid the amount we agreed to? This is a basic tenet of working.

Under current law, there is no established process for providers to appeal these actions that depart from agreed-upon pay dates, amounts, rules and procedures. Resolving business agreements shouldn’t have to rely on the goodness of someone’s heart – we need a fair and transparent process to fix concerns that affect our ability to keep our doors open.

We need a simple, powerful and effective appeals process for providers. We hope we will not need to resort to appeals, but we need a consistent process across the state for when there are these bumps that I’ve described.

AB 2133 would establish a clear and fair process for providers to have recourse for pay and other disagreements with payment agencies, modeled after the appeals process that parents already have in our child care system.

AB 2133 addresses a huge crack in our child care system–one that destabilizes child care providers and the families we serve. It’s no coincidence that 30% of the child care workforce has closed it doors since 2007. In part it’s the low pay, but it’s also that inconsistent payments without any recourse to address problems that come up.

AB 2133 sends a signal that California values the early educators who are vital to our children’s future.

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