Ventura childcare providers protest for state help

Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett spoke at the rally.

Child care providers were joined by parents, advocates and elected officials outside the Ventura County Government Center on Saturday, October 24, to demand state leaders stop ignoring California’s child care crisis. With scores of child care businesses closing in California each week, they rallied to demand Governor Newsom and legislators take action to support early educators who have taken on the added responsibility and expense of supporting distance learning for children who don’t have technology at home or whose parents are working in frontline roles.

Steve Bennett, Ventura County Supervisor stated “The United States is one of the worst countries of all the industrialized countries of the world in terms of how much we fund child care. It is one of the major reasons why we have growing income inequality in the United States.”

“Childcare was already in a crisis before the pandemic. Quality childcare can be hard to find, or too expensive, for hardworking families. All while more than 2.7 million children who are eligible for state subsidized childcare fail to receive it and fall through the cracks…More than 5,000 family child care providers have been forced to shut their doors in 2020. That’s fifty to seventy thousand less children being served.” said Jack Hinojosa, CEO of Child Development Resources.

Maricruz Ruiz, who opened a new childcare in Ventura in the past year has had multiple family members test positive for COVID-19 and lost both her uncle and her grandmother to the disease:

“It’s been an incredibly difficult year. As we all know, starting a new business is never easy. It’s especially difficult when tragedy strikes; not only for our family, but for the world as a whole.”

COVID-19 has made California’s childcare funding crisis into a full-blown catastrophe. More than 5,000 family childcare providers have been forced to close their doors since the start of the year, and that was before an additional state pay cut was triggered on September 30. What we know from the Great Recession is that without assistance from the state, many of these small businesses will likely never reopen, impeding California’s recovery.

With physical classrooms closed to slow virus spread, home-based providers have taken on the added costs of distance learning (such as upgraded wi-fi and additional staff) to support school-aged children so their parents can work on the frontlines of COVID-19. Yet while they are now caring for children all day, family childcare providers are only reimbursed at the same rate they were paid for these children during school breaks and vacations, not when such intensive learning was required.

A recent study showed provider costs associated with the pandemic and move to distance learning have increased by up to 75%. Without increased investment from the state, providers will no longer be able to continue spending their own money to support children in distance learning, if they are able to keep their doors open at all.

Child Care Providers United California (CCPU) is a union of family childcare providers across the state who are members of SEIU Local 99, SEIU Local 521, and UDW/AFSCME Local 3930.

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