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CCRC honors Sen. Connie Leyva with prestigious H.E.A.R.T. Award for advocacy

The historic rate reform and child care funding included in the recently signed California budget couldn’t have been achieved without the tireless work of advocates and legislative partners like Sen. Connie Leyva. At a special Friday ceremony, Child Care Resource Center and partner agencies honored the senator as a champion for our field with the H.E.A.R.T. award.

“What became SB 246 was a white paper supported by the entire early childhood industry. That doesn’t happen often,” said CCRC Chief Strategy Officer Donna Sneeringer. “It’s going to revolutionize how we compensate and change how we provide services to Californians. It was not an easy win, the last few months of the budget were really hard and Senator Leyva really stepped into the fire on behalf of all of you.”

The 2021-2022 budget signed last month by Gov. Gavin Newsom features the first rate increase for child care workers since 2016. Along with pay raises, 200,000 new child care slots will be added over the next four years. And to help stabilize the child care industry, one time stipends of $600/child enrolled in a subsidized child care or state preschool program, $3,500 to all licensed family child care home providers, and up to $6,000 for licensed centers will be paid.

One of the child care providers who attended shared her gratitude for Sen. Leyva and CCRC. “Thank you for recognizing that we are educators, not babysitters,” Olga said. “I want to thank our allies like CCRC and Senator Leyva for knowing child care was essential all along. You stayed by our side. Working families deserve quality, reliable care.”

Alongside the child care providers in attendance were industry advocates and a group of young children, who made the senator emotional when they came out to say thank you.

“One hundred percent of the children (child care providers) serve are future leaders so I thought why aren’t we doing more in this area?” the senator said. “This was my mountain to die on this year because we know how important child care providers are. This is just the beginning, we have more work to do.”

CCRC previously honored Senator Carol Liu with the H.E.A.R.T. award. The honor, which stands for Helping Everyone Achieve Real Tomorrows, is given to outstanding representatives who are champions in our field.

In her role as senator, Leyva has attended our family play days, hosted a toy drive for CCRC during the pandemic, and has led more than one of our diaper drives. “In addition to her good work she does at the state capitol, she’s also a great partner in our community,” said Donna. “She never says no, she always shows up for the babies, and we truly appreciate that and are truly grateful to be co-sponsors of this momentous effort.”

Leyva was elected in 2014 to serve Senate District 20, which includes much of San Bernardino County. As chair of the Senate Education Committee and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, Leyva has fought to advance the rights of child care workers and support families. She was chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and led multiple years of budget priorities to fund child care spaces and 12 month eligibility for families. This is also the second time she introduced the rate reform bill. The first bill failed to move forward.

“On a good day, you get to make a difference,” Sen. Leyva said. “Today is a good day.”

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