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Campaign to Save Child Care! Parents, providers fight back in Sacramento and D.C.

May 24, 2010

More than 150 child care supporters appear before Senate Budget Committee Tuesday to oppose governor’s proposed elimination of child care

On Tuesday, May 25, over 150 California child care supporters will speak out against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal for a massive dismantling of the state’s child care system by July 1, throwing hundreds of thousands of parents who depend on child care and child care providers out of work and denying 200,000 children the learning and nurturing and joy of good child care. The hearing, before the Senate Budget Committee, will begin at 9 a.m. in Room 115 of the State Capitol in Sacramento.

Add your voice. Call the governor at (916) 445-2841 and tell him, “No cuts to child care; my livelihood depends on it!”

Sacramento – The governor’s budget May revision 2010‐11 proposes an unprecedented $2.3 billion combined elimination of CalWORKS and General Fund support for California’s neediest children and families – $1.1 billion CalWORKS and $1.2 billion General Fund). Additionally, this could result in the loss of significant federal funding.

Although his proposals exempt the state’s part‐day preschool and ASES afterschool programs, the overall proposal will destroy California’s long‐established system of child care services that support the dual goals of helping parents earn and children learn. Since the end of World War II, California has recognized the value and importance of providing child care services to working families and their children. Our 68‐year‐old system has evolved to provide care to young children in a variety of settings – home and center based – that meet the needs of our diverse working families.

As parents, providers, directors, teachers, resource and referral programs, alternative payment providers, local planning councils and organizations committed to quality, accessible, affordable child care, we are outraged that the governor has proposed this massive dismantling of a child care system that provides jobs for:

  • 100,000 parents working and contributing to California’s struggling economy
  • More than 130,000 child care providers, including licensed family child care homes and paid assistants; center staff – directors, teachers and assistants; and license‐exempt child providers serving low‐income families

The proposed massive elimination of child care services will result not only in lost employment for low income working parents and their child care teachers and providers, but also in endangered child safety and lost learning opportunities for the 200,000 young children who would be jerked from their child care programs beginning July 1, 2010. Brain research demonstrates that early education experiences – from birth to age 5 – are critical in determining whether a child’s brain develops a proper foundation for learning and success in school and later life. Eliminating child care and early learning opportunities literally imperils our children’s capacity for learning.

Rome was not built in a day, nor was our child care system. Our centers and home‐ based providers – the foundation of our system – cannot put their programs on pause while we wait for California’s economy to pick up. This radical budget surgery will result in the permanent loss of child care facilities, teachers and staff throughout the state, leaving California even less prepared for the economic rebound forecast for the not‐so‐distant future.

The threat to dismantle the entire child care system is not only outrageous in its scope but irresponsible, leaving the child care field in limbo. This kind of anxiety pulsing throughout the state will result in hiring freezes, staff layoffs, and frozen enrollment beginning in the next few weeks. Employment opportunities for parents will be jeopardized without the guarantee of subsidized child care, creating further economic insecurity in the state. Equally devastating, our youngest children will lose access to our highest quality child care programs.

Over 150 organizations stand united in our opposition to this wholesale dismantling of our child care system. We will not allow this proposal to become a negotiation tool for accepting the governor’s January budget proposals. Beginning today, we will document and share the impact of this proposal on children, parents, providers and the communities we serve and bring it to the immediate attention of our Assembly members and senators.

We cannot accept corporate tax breaks at the expense of young children. This is a campaign for California’s future – a future that must address economic equity and close examination of who wins and who loses in this budget scheme.

We cannot accept corporate tax breaks at the expense of young children.

To learn more, visit the Campaign to Save Child Care, at http://www.rrnetwork.org/welcome/campaign-to-save-child-care-1.html. If you would like your agency to be included in the growing list of campaign supporters, contact Sarah Moore at (415) 882‐0234 or sarah@rrnetwork.org.

Early learning teachers challenge Congress to help infants and toddlers, ease the child care crisis for parents

The message: Increase critical federal funding for early childhood programs to help overburdened workers give their kids a strong start in life

Washington, D.C. – Last week on Capitol Hill, family child care providers, Head Start teachers, family support and child care center workers from 10 states, including California, and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) urged Congress to sharply increase federal support for infants and toddlers. They called for their representatives to adopt President Obama’s 2011 budget proposals for key early childhood programs – $3.6 billion for expanded pre-school and Head Start opportunities, child nutrition programs and higher-quality, affordable child care.

The call for increased funding comes just days after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) released findings showing the long-lasting effects of low-quality care in the first few years of life, underscoring the urgent need for local, state and federal governments, employers and others to improve access to high-quality child care.

The amounts include a $1.6 billion increase for Child Care Development Block Grants and an additional $1 billion increase to Head Start and Child Nutrition in 2011, allowing 235,000 children to receive child care assistance and enroll 971,000 pre-school age children in Head Start.

“Congress needs to hear about this directly from us,” says Beatriz Acea-Cordero, a Montgomery County Maryland family child care provider and member of SEIU Local 500 with 36 years experience in child care and family support. Acea-Cordero cares for nine children, including the 14-month-old baby of a nurse at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “There are thousands of parents looking for child care. I want to expand my child care so I can help workers who need evening care for their children.”

As Americans face financial challenges in the worse economic crisis in decades, some parents have been confronted with limited child care options – even though it’s a basic necessity for many working families. Indeed in the U.S., more than 60 percent of children under 6 spend time in non-parental care.

“The economy has been tough on parents. I see them really struggling,” says Susan Torngren, owner and director of Pacific Pre School in Lynnwood, Washington. “One single mom has health issues and now has to pick up $300 in co-pays for physical therapy that she needs so she can keep working. She’s having to choose between getting her back fixed and paying for her son’s education.”

“Our society’s work places would crash without child care and pre-school resources, and adults need to understand how much is depending on quality learning at early ages,” said Torngren. “Maybe we need to retrain the brains of adults – try thinking differently about the value of early learning, about how we need good quality and high standards.”

For more information, email Kawana Lloyd at Kawana.Lloyd@seiu.org.

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