Labor & Business

Home Childcare Providers call on Governor McKee to settle fair contract

“We work hard, we perform to the highest standards, and we deserve adequate benefits,” said Alexandra Flores, who’s been a home childcare provider for over 20 years. “If the Governor wants to prove he’s serious about investing in childcare providers like me, he needs to offer us a fair contract.”
Photo for Home Childcare Providers call on Governor McKee to settle fair contract

Published on May 10, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

Home Childcare Providers in Rhode Island who are members of SEIU 1199NE, were joined by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, State Representatives Scott Slater and David Morales, parents, and community allies to hold a press conference on Monday outside the home of Emma Villa, a Home Childcare Providers in Providence. Childcare providers called on Governor Daniel McKee and the State of Rhode Island to settle a fair contract that reflects the value of their work, strengthen Rhode Island’s home childcare system, and reward providers for continuing to provide quality childcare through the worst phases of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each day, hundreds of Rhode Island Home Childcare Providers contribute an invaluable service by helping children develop cognitively and socially into healthy, productive adults. But in return, the childcare workforce, which is predominantly Latina women of color, earn poverty wages with the average wage in 2021 around $13/hr or $25k a year. Providers are paid through the Childcare Assistance Program (CCAP). Currently, CCAP pays providers less than $200 per child per week which falls far short of covering out-of-pocket expenses including health insurance, business expenses and facilities upkeep. They have no retirement accounts, little time off and an inability to hire support staff. This results in an unstable workforce with a high degree of burnout and turnover.

Now, as Governor McKee moves to make investment in the state’s childcare infrastructure a priority through last month’s announcement of nearly $19M in state childcare initiatives, providers are demanding a contract settlement that raises CCAP reimbursement rates and improves working conditions.  

“We want our needs to be paid attention to and to get what we as childcare providers deserve,” said Emma Villa, whose home-based child-care business was the site of the press conference. “We want benefits. We want fair pay. We want adequate resources to be able to continue to study, advance as educated professionals and prepare the children of the future. We want our message to reach all the governing officials of Rhode Island, and for them to make the decision to negotiate with us so that we can have these benefits. I’m speaking for all my co-workers who have had to close their doors because they didn’t have the economic resources to continue working. This means that many children are staying home, or with family members, and they don’t have the education they need to be prepared to go to school.”

“We’ve last between 10 and 15% of Home Childcare Providers over the last two years,” said Patrick Quinn, Rhode Island Executive Vice-President of SEIU-1199. “We need continuing access to affordable healthcare, we need continuing access to professional development, and most importantly we need to pay people adequately so that we retain the childcare providers that we have.”

“We work hard, we perform to the highest standards, and we deserve adequate benefits,” said Alexandra Flores, who’s been a home childcare provider for over 20 years. “If the Governor wants to prove he’s serious about investing in childcare providers like me, he needs to offer us a fair contract.”

“As a childcare provider, we work hard and we deserve adequate benefits. We are facing a crisis in childcare. Hundreds of providers have left the system because the pay is too low and too few children are eligible,” said Ramona Botello, a home childcare provider from Providence. “We want to continue caring for children, but no one can under the current conditions. If the governor wants to prove he’s serious about investing in childcare providers like me, he needs to offer us a fair contract with benefits that reflect our value.”

“We are calling on the Governor to negotiate in a fair and honorable manner to respect the work that these homeware providers do,” said Representative Scott Slater (Democrat, District 10, Providence), whoas as a father of two children depended on home childcare providers when his kids were younger.

“Without home based childcare, we don’t have an economy that’s functioning,” said Representative David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence). “At a bare minimum it is the responsibility of our state government, most notable the Governor’s office, to ensure that every home based childcare provider in the State of Rhode Island, particularly those within the urban core of Providence where the need is highest, have the contracts they deserve as it relates to a decent benefits package…”

Home childcare providers, said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, are “people doing the most important job, making sure that your kids are safe while you’re at work and you’re not with them… We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and value all the people who are on the ground, doing the work.”

Home childcare is a key component of Rhode Island’s post-pandemic economic recovery efforts, allowing parents to remain in, or rejoin, the workforce while offering a nurturing environment to the youngest Rhode Islanders. Providers are trained professionals, leaders in their community, and serve populations that have been hard hit by Covid-19 and its aftereffects.

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