The following story was inspired by the testimony Family Child Care Provider and Raising California Together co-chair Tonia McMillian gave at the July 11th California Senate Human Services Committee in Sacramento in support of AB676
For the past 24 years I have had the pleasure of seeing children’s eyes light up when they learn to read a new word or remember the words to a new children’s song. I love my daily talks with their parents as I share with them how their child learned that day. And I take great pride in knowing that my work makes it possible for mothers and fathers to do theirs.
The work we do is incredibly valuable. Even though we endure low wages, we lack access to workers’ compensation benefits. And although we are required to ensure the health and safety of the children we care for, we lack basic training to keep ourselves safe and on the job.
The work that we do may not seem dangerous on its surface, but I ask you to consider this:
- Back injuries are by far the most common for us, occurring at nearly double the rate of the general working population.
- We come into contact with hazardous chemicals and infectious diseases at a higher rate than the general public.
- 95% of child care providers reported job-related stress. Prolonged stress plays a role in other physical and mental health complications for us.
And there is even more data reporting injuries in my field, but I am here to say that the data is inaccurate based on the fact that providers, including me, barely report our workplace injuries. And guess what? No one asks.
Until the Affordable Care Act, I was not able to afford insurance on my own and had enormous gaps in my coverage….gaps that left me with $30,000in hospital bills that I still struggle to pay. Being able to buy health insurance through Covered California was an enormous relief. But now my health, my pocketbook and my ability to stay in the child care profession are all at risk now because of the irresponsible actions of the Trump Administration.
With that being said, I’m all the more mindful that I have little safety net as a self – employed child care provider. Those of us who provide care aren’t covered by workers compensation insurance, and now more of us are at risk of losing our health care all together.
If I’m injured picking up a crying child and I can’t work, I not only lose my pay, but the parents I serve risk losing their income or even their jobs. What that means for most child care providers is we work through the pain- no matter what. I am sad to say that I have worked through the pain far too many times over the years.
Our workforce has benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act, and now that it is under constant attack, preventative trainings like this are key, especially for a vulnerable workforce like mine. This 2 hour training is a tiny investment when compared to what it will save – days of care that will be lost if we get sick. Weeks, months of care if we get injured.
It might seem unusual for a workforce to ask to be required to do more training – but we are asking because this training is so important to the profession we love, and to the children and the parents we serve.
2 hours of training will lead to years of stability for thousands of child care workers and parents alike.