From Sacramento to Tallahassee to Las Vegas child care teachers, providers, and parents have joined the Child Care Fight For $15 to secure a better future for our families and our communities.
By demanding $15 per hour for early educators and affordable care options for parents, they hope to win new investment in early learning and to influence lawmakers to make policy changes that will help working families who have reached the breaking point.
Over the last three months, they have told their stories to state officials, speaking out on behalf of themselves and the children in their care. They have stormed state hearings, bringing their child care children, to demand more for the underpaid and a child care system that works for everyone.
Check out some of the highlights from these successful actions:
“Each and every day we battle with the choice of staying doing the work we love or leaving altogether because we just can’t afford to stay,” Oakland family child care provider, Nancy Harvey told California state officials. “It’s no surprise that nearly half of child care workers, 46% nationwide are forced to rely on public assistance for necessities like food, healthcare and housing. This has to change. It’s a disgrace when early educators qualify for the same public assistance we provide.”
Nancy is one of the many Child Care Fight For $15 leaders who joined parents and early educators including center workers and family child care providers from across the state to demanded that all early educators that work within the state’s subsidized system earn at least $15 an hour.
“The rewards are beautiful,” said Ingrid Henlon about her career as an early educator in Hartford, yet the low-wages are “disheartening” and stressful. Despite holding a bachelor’s degree and working in the field for 23 years, Ingrid still earns significantly less than others with similar degrees.
80 child care providers packed the hearing at the state where they called on the state to invest more in child care so that providers like them are paid at least $15/hour and parents have access to quality, affordable child care.
Wearing Child Care Fight for $15 t-shirts, child care providers and parents traveled from Detroit to Lansing, MI and called on the state to ensure that ALL child care providers and everyone who works with children as part of Michigan’s child care system earn at least $15 per hour or the equivalent rate of pay for those early educators who do not receive an hourly rate.
Many powerful Child Care Fight For $15 leaders testified that day, including National Organizing Committee member and center owners Betty Henderson and Kimmie Jones. Joining them was Tyrone Allen, a veteran and a child care provider who shared that they joined the Child Care Fight For $15 to demand a better future for providers and the children in their care.
Child care providers and parents traveled to the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in Bloomington to discuss with state leaders in Illinois about the struggles of child care educators, and the crippling price of child care for working families. “These are our children. The children are our future. These are our future leaders,” said Sharon Norwood of Chicago, a child care provider. “We want them to have the best education. And what they need is quality education and quality care first.”
In Worcester, Boston, and Springfield, child care providers joined moms and dads to call for affordable care options for parents and a living wage for providers. Through their testimony, they illustrated the realities of our broken child care system: parents who need it to go to work can’t afford it and workers within the child care system earn poverty wages.
From Tampa to Miami, child care providers came out in full force alongside parents and the Child Care Fight for $15 and packed the Department of Education Office of Early Learning in Tallahassee, Florida. With the support of State Representative Victor Torres and a representative from State Representative Lori Berman’s office, they asked that all providers make at least $15/hour so they can care for their families and continue to provide the best quality early education and care possible.
Parents shared the difficult choices many are forced to make. Nadia Morley, a Hillsborough County child care teachers and mother of two, has a Master’s degree but barely makes above minimum wage. “It’s hard at home when you don’t know where you can get your next meal from or when your next light will cut off,” Morley said. Nobody should have to make the decision between putting food on the table or paying a bill. Every early educator should be able to support their families and every parent too.
In Las Vegas, child care providers stood together with parents to make their voices heard at a State of Nevada Division of Welfare and Social Services hearing calling for affordable child care and better wages. “I take my job very seriously and I love what I do but I don’t feel respected because of the low wages” shared Luz Perez, a Head Start teacher from Las Vegas.
It isn’t just Luz who struggles, child care workers were among the lowest paid in the country. In other cities we have seen how increasing the minimum wage has helped parents spend more time with their kids and work fewer jobs to make ends meet; early educators throughout the state need the same path to more sustaining pay.
The Child Care Fight For $15 started 2016 off strong and has no intention of slowing down. Stay tuned as we continue to join other underpaid workers in the Fight For $15, the largest-ever nationwide mobilization to call for $15 an hour and union rights.