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October 4, 2011 > Letter to the editor: We deserve respect

Letter to the editor: We deserve respect

Ever wonder how a hard-working mom is able to put in the long days necessary to help her employer compete in a tough economy? Here's the secret: she doesn't do it alone. Chances are that mom is able to keep her job and make her contribution because her children receive high quality child care with flexible hours from a professional she trusts: a child care provider like me.

Like the moms (and dads) whose children I serve, I take pride in my work and I am a pro, taking care of eight children and providing safety, love, preparation for school, help with homework, healthy meals with lots of fruits and vegetables, social skills, and much more.

I know what works for my kids and families, and I know what works and what's broken in our current child care system. That's why I think the Governor needs to give child care professionals like myself the chance to have a recognized voice at the table, which we are currently denied.

He can do that with the stroke of a pen by signing AB 101, which gives child care providers the choice to come together and be represented by our own union. I'm proud to say that I've built and grown a strong family child care business that supports my family and this economy. So when 5,700 providers had to shut their doors last year, it really saddened me. Because I know the economy is not to blame... it's the broken child care system.

Most providers are barely scraping by. Payments owed to providers for children receiving subsidized care frequently arrive three to four months late. We cannot afford to take the hit for late payments, because we have mortgages or rent, utilities, food, assistants' wages, and more. None of that will wait.

Many of the problems could be easily prevented: late payments, non-payments for children we have cared for, arbitrarily reduced or withheld payments, and a lack of timely information about children's subsidy status. In some areas, no one even informs us of regulation, rate, or eligibility changes, all of which greatly affect our livelihood.

We providers have organized, spoken up, held press conferences, staged demonstrations, and made noise about these problems until we are blue in the face, but guess what? It seems like no one is listening.

They're not listening for one simple reason: they don't have to. No one acknowledges that we might have some good ideas - because they don't have to.

That's why we want a recognized voice and a place at the table. When I heard that AB 101 passed the Senate and Assembly, I was so proud and excited, because it gives child care providers a strong voice to help fix the broken system that we work in.

I love my work. My work is real work; it's vital work. Without it, parents can't keep working. Kids won't get the quality care they need. And California businesses, which already have enough challenges, will face one more problem: parents will miss more work as they struggle to patch together child care.

Governor Brown, it's now up to you. Do the right thing for our children and our economy and sign AB 101.


Beverly Reliford
Hayward

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