Child care activists to rally at Capitol June 3 in final push for SB 548
With the California budget process entering the final two weeks, the coalition of providers and parents pushing for substantive relief in the state’s child care system are closer than ever to real reform.
“All the hard work is going to pay off,” said Local 1000’s Camille Mahan-Carr, about SB 548, The Raising Child Care Quality and Accessibility Act that she and other member activists have been working to pass. Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León, SB 548 seeks to fix California’s child care system and break the cycle of poverty caused by lack of quality, affordable care for families. The June 3rd rally, organized by the Raising California coalition of unions, child care providers, womens and community groups, is designed to keep the bill top-of-mind for lawmakers.
“We’re trying to get people out so the governor and the legislature understand there are parents who need this,” said Mahan-Carr.
Mahan-Carr, a Stockton mother of three, was unable to get stable early childhood care for her youngest son, now 8. Her son now struggles with learning disabilities that Mahan-Carr believes could have been recognized and helped if he had had quality early childhood education. She became active on the child care issue so other families don’t have to go through what she what through.
SB 548 would increase child care slots for the low-income families who use payment vouchers, establish new training partnerships with the state to improve quality of care, authorize a study of best practices and, importantly, extend collective bargaining rights to family child care providers to give them the power to advocate for themselves and for the families they serve.
Mahan-Carr pointed out that the collective bargaining component of the legislation is important, not just for the underpaid providers, but for parents as well.
“If these child care providers can go in and bargain what their rates are going to be from the state for subsidized care, then they can lower the amount of how much the people who don’t get subsidized care pay because they won’t have to make up the difference,” said Mahan-Carr, “ Providers will be able to bring in more staff and more staff means more slots.” And, she said, the providers will have more resources to spend on learning materials for the children. “If they have the right to bargain,” said Mahan-Carr, there will be better quality for them and the students.”
With the support of de León and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins as well as the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, SB 548 is poised to bring real reform to the state’s broken system. But, as Mahan-Carr points out, SB 548 should be the beginning of something larger.
“I’m feeling excited. I’m hoping our bill gets passed,” she said. “But I’m more so waiting on it to go national. They need to think of the next generation.”