At a mid-October gathering of child care advocates in Van Nuys, a Child Care Resource Center representative joined others in calling on California’s governor and state lawmakers to solve the child care crisis worsened by the pandemic.
The event was held in the driveway of Busy Bee Daycare in Van Nuys, where children in that program worked on their school assignments under canopies in the front yard.
CCRC Government Relations Manager Patrick MacFarlane addressed members of the Los Angeles area media and child care advocates about the need for financial support for providers and the racial disparities that are emerging in the child care realm.
“Child care providers are now doing more with less, supporting students through distance learning and adhering to costly health and safety protocols,” MacFarlane said. “We should be investing in children and child care providers but instead, we are passing on the cost of the pandemic to low income women of color. Make no mistake that this will have a devastating impact on our state for generations to come.”
Max Arias, the executive director of Service Employees International Union, Local 99, echoed MacFarlane’s sentiment.
“Traditionally, the state has depended on black and brown women to educate and care for children in the area for barely any compensation,” Arias said.
Busy Bee Daycare Director Heidy Escobar said she’s paid out of pocket for improved wifi, a printer and ink, laptops, and other distance learning materials for the students enrolled in her program. CCRC Resource and Referral department has supplied thousands of providers with funding and sanitization supplies but there are many other providers, like Escobar, who have paid for cleaning supplies with their own money.
“Revenue these past six months, since March, hasn’t been what I’d normally say I can save for myself,” Escobar said. “I’m literally breaking even, if that. I’m continuing to employ my employees that, even though the hardship is there for me, I’d rather provide for them. They have families as well. They stuck by me when it was easier to stay home and file unemployment but they’re here for the kids because they genuinely love what they do.”
The challenges Escobar faces are shared by many providers in CCRC’s service area, MacFarlane said, adding that the entire system is in crisis.
“Child care providers are essential workers that have been risking their own health to support essential workers for the duration of the pandemic,” MacFarlane said. “They need our support immediately.”
Arias said three ways state leaders can help child care providers is by covering the family fees, extending the financial support for providers who are forced to close due to a positive COVID-19 case, and increase the reimbursement rates for providers who support virtual learning.
MacFarlane joined Arias and Escobar in calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers to take immediate action to support child care providers, who are essential to the vitality of the state’s economy.