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Childcare Providers Are Fighting For Their Livelihoods And A Seat At The Table

Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

In honor of Labor Day, mitú is running a short series highlighting childcare providers in California and those affected by struggles with childcare. One in three providers in California are Latina. They and others are fighting for a fairer wage, collective bargaining within the government and many other issues.

Ramona Duran’s house in Long Beach is pretty typical from the outside. But if you walk beyond the peach stucco façade and small garden in the front yard, there’s a flurry of activity. On any given weekday, 14 children, some as young as infant age to five-year-olds, can be found playing, crying and laughing at almost all hours of the day. While that may sound like a nightmare to some, Duran is elated to be the calm among the storm of little voices at Ramona’s Day Care.

Duran has been running her day care the last 21 years. The space is a child’s paradise. Shelves built by her husband hold dress-up clothes, musical instruments, educational games and dolls of children of different ethnicities and abilities that she uses to teach kids about diversity. The walls are covered with photos of happy families and kids, and a little play kitchen holds a basket of plastic pan dulce.

CREDIT: Ramona Duran. Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

She proudly walks through her daycare, pointing out a wall of colorfully-drawn butterflies and blue dogs cut out of construction paper. This is B week, and through those drawings Duran teaches the children math, colors, Spanish and English while also strengthening their fine motor skills and showing them how to socialize with other children. It’s the proverbial spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.

This is what she and the thousands of other providers do — care for children and teach them the many lessons they need early in their lives in order to succeed later in their education and eventual careers.

More than half of licensed providers are women of color. One out of every three are Latina in California. Duran is one of them. She does this work out of genuine love of children. The joys of caring for children are impossible to calculate. However, what can be calculated are the considerably low earnings and lack of benefits providers receive.

The childcare system is frustratingly confusing and tedious. While some parents pay out of pocket for child care, making it a somewhat simple transaction (you watched my child, here is the money I owe you), many others rely on subsidized childcare from the state government, with the government providing funding to local non-profits who then pay the providers directly.

That’s where things get very complicated.

CREDIT: Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

The programs that provide subsidized childcare and the non-profits who carry out the programs each have their own system, set of rules and paperwork required on a regular basis so the parent can remain enrolled and the provider can get paid. It’s through various agencies that parents and providers interact with.

Providers are considered independent contractors, similar to someone who works freelance. They are paid a different set amount per child depending on a variety of factors that include age, the program they’re in, regional market rates and the number of hours the child is in the provider’s care.

Providers have a mix of children, caring for 14 max at a time. For every child in a subsidy program, they have to provide documentation of care to the respective program the child is in. However, if at no fault of the provider documents are lost, there’s a mistake or the parent’s paperwork hasn’t been submitted, the provider isn’t paid until all documents are in. If a parent’s circumstances change, such as their new income makes them ineligible for subsidized care and no one notifies the provider, the provider is not paid for her work. Sometimes it can take months before a provider is notified that she will not be paid because the family was disqualified. Providers have to go through all this for each child in their care. It’s not fun, at best.

Even with all that paperwork and bureaucracy, the end result is minuscule pay for providers.

Let’s say a provider has a kid under two in their care. The hourly rate they can get if the child is with them less than 5.59 hours a day but less than 30 hours a week, is about $10 a day. But if they’re there more than 30 hours a week, that $10 turns into a part-time rate of about $7. If the child is there longer than 30 hours, then it’s full time. Now it drops to about $5 an hour. The longer the child is in their care, the less they make. The rates decrease the older the child is.

This is not a hypothetical example. It’s the reality for Tonia McMillan, 58, a childcare provider and advocate in Bellflower, California. While providers don’t make an hourly wage, on average, a childcare provider makes $5-$8 an hour. But they’re not even guaranteed that amount.

McMillan has been a provider for 24 years. While she loves working with children, red tape and poor pay weigh on her. That’s why she, Duran and others have joined the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – to fight for fairer wages, collective bargaining and better benefits for childcare providers.

CREDIT: Tonia McMillan with baby Amari. Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

McMillan and the others are fighting for $15 an hour as the base for school age children. They also want collective bargaining because it ensures they have a seat at the table with law makers who make decisions that impact providers’ livelihood and that of the parents and the children in their care.

Herminia Garcia, 60, is a childcare provider in Carson, California, who is also a union member. Originally from Sinaloa, Mexico, Garcia has been a provider for 17 years. For an infant she cares for, she makes $31 a day, even if it’s longer than eight hours. For an 18-month-old, she’s paid $27 a day. She has an assistant she pays $10 an hour. In the end, she ends up making about $2 an hour.

Half of America’s childcare workers need food stamps, welfare payments or Medicaid, according to a study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Many qualify for other government programs, like food programs, that help offset costs. But because they’re independent contractors, that have to pay everything they spend on their business out of pocket. That includes food for the kids, water, toilet paper, school supplies, baby wipes, hand soap, toys, books, and the many other things needed to care for kids. On food alone, McMillan estimates her costs at $500 a week.

Providers are also required by law to have insurance and, if they have more than eight kids in their care and depending on the kids’ ages, must have an assistant. Those assistants are hourly employees and are required to be paid the minimum wage. The state, however, is not required to pay providers the minimum wage.

At one point, McMillan made $78,000 in a year. However, with all the costs associated with the work, including assistants, what she actually made was $16,000. She can never get sick because there are no sick days, vacations are almost impossible to take and the financial struggle is often great.

So why do this work? Every provider will say that it’s the love they have for children, who they form close, sometimes lifelong bonds with, and because they provide help to parents. They also believe it is work that is necessary. Their daycares are within the communities they live in, and they serve the children and parents within that community. Their work helps lift often poor, communities of color.

“Meeting the providers, I realized this is golden,” says McMillan. “We do work that we should be super proud of.”

And when parents aren’t able to pay for their child’s care, or when they’re stuck in paperwork purgatory with their subsidy program, providers don’t turn them away.

“There’s people that in reality depend a lot on their job, and it’s really important that they have someone to take care of their children and that they know they can leave them in a place they trust,” says Duran. “Most of all, they have to bring the bread home too. That’s why I help them. I understand.”

The problem becomes that the work isn’t respected. At least that’s how it appears considering how often hard-fought bills that offer them better pay or collective bargaining are vetoed without a second thought. For McMillan, the reason is crystal clear.

It’s the country we live in. It’s our history. As women, we’re considered the nurturers,” says McMillan. “As black women and brown women, we’re natural nannies. We’ve always been the ones to take care of the little white babies. That’s our history. That’s the racial stereotype that’s ingrained in this country and our institutions. I don’t care what the deniers say. I live this every day.”

Because of this long-instituted belief, these women’s work is devalued.

On a cool Friday night, 25 women gathered at Duran’s home to meet with their union rep, Maria Duque, a 26-year-old who was there to answer questions, provide information and help them navigate the complicated subsidized system they so rely on. The providers spoke amongst each other, and sometimes over each other, as they discussed the many issues they are dealing with in getting paid and in getting by. Garcia is there in an arm sling, the result of an injury on the job. Together, they commiserate, talk and empower each other to fight for their livelihood and future.

READ: Interrogation Of Undocumented Minors And ‘Baby Prisons’ To Become A Reality Thanks To Texas Bill

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Childcare Is More Expensive Than College, And These Parents Are Feeling The Effects

Things That Matter

Childcare Is More Expensive Than College, And These Parents Are Feeling The Effects


In honor of Labor Day, mitú is running a short series highlighting childcare providers in California and those affected by struggles with childcare. More than half of licensed providers are women of color. One in three providers in California are Latina. They and others are fighting for a fairer wage, collective bargaining within the government and many other issues. The final story in the series focuses on the parents struggling with accessing childcare.

Jillian Parker sits at a small school table, made specially for tiny child hands to draw funny little animals on construction paper. The table is located in the home of Tonia McMillan, a childcare provider who provides in-home care and education for Parker’s three children. The 29-year-old single mom of three says finding quality childcare hasn’t been hard for her.

The keeping it is hard,” she says.

This is a major problem parents are facing, stemming from financial strain to bureaucratic red tape. Mary Ignatius, an organizer with Parent Voices, identifies the main barriers to child care for parents to be a lack of supply, affordability and a bad system for subsidized care.

In most states, childcare is more expensive than a year of tuition at a state college. That’s not an exaggeration. In 2015, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a report explaining how childcare has become out of reach for working families.

CREDIT: Photo credit: SEIU

EPI has an online Family Budget calculator where people can input family size and geographical location to calculate the average monthly and annual cost of living in different cities across the country. It estimates child care for two children in San Francisco, LA, and San Diego to cost $901/month. That’s $10,815 for a year of childcare. In New York, that cost skyrockets to $2,011/month, or $24,130/year. Basic tuition at San Diego State University is $7,184/year. At San Francisco State, it’s $6,484 for in-state students. A year at State University of New York, Buffalo is $21,550. Midwestern and southern states also follow this trend.

Driving the price of childcare are market rates, which vary from city to city, and the ratio of provider to child/children in their care. Infant care is the most expensive since you need one provider for every three infants in their care.

“Do you want someone watching more than 3 babies?” says Ignatius. “I can barely watch one! As children get older, gets a little less, but it’s still very expensive.”

Ignatius herself pays $1,500 a month in San Francisco for full-time childcare for her four-year-old son. If she had another child, that cost would more than double.

The child care system in place in the state of California is so broken that no one is winning: Not the childcare providers making as low as $2/hour and working 15-hour days minimum nor the parents that either can’t afford childcare costs or struggle trying to navigate the state’s subsidized care system.

CREDIT: Photo credit: SEIU

The ones most affected, however, are the children missing out on quality childcare and education, and low-income families and black and Latino families.

That leads to a series of larger social issues, like developmental setbacks, a higher risk of entering the school-to-prison pipeline and many other societal problems that especially affect disadvantaged people of color.

As we shared in the first installment of this series, the childcare system is frustratingly confusing and tedious. While some parents pay out of pocket for child care, making it a somewhat simple transaction (you watched my child, here is the money I owe you), many others rely on subsidized childcare from the state government, with the government providing funding to local non-profits who then pay the providers directly.

Parker is one of those parents. And the process of maintaining subsidized care is an endless series of headaches.

“You take one piece of paper up there and you think you’re done, and then you’ll get a call two days later. ‘Oh, you’re missing this,’” says Parker. “And it’s like, ‘Ok why didn’t you tell me that when I was up there?’ You’ll take that and go back. I’ve gone to Tonia many times frustrated. They keep calling me because they need this or they need that, and she’s gone to bat for me many times. Like ‘Don’t worry. I’ve got it.’”

Not only that, but if there is an issue with paperwork, if a parent’s hours changed, if they got a slight raise or something else comes up, agencies will stop approving care, even going so far as not paying providers for care they’ve already provided.

That back and forth often cuts into Parker’s work hours. Luckily, she has an understanding employer who sees the connection between her ability to work and her access to childcare. But many aren’t so lucky.

Lack of childcare has been proven to be a major barrier to unemployment for parents. The Center for American Progress reports that “2 million parents are forced to make career sacrifices due to problems with childcare.” In 2014, PBS reported that for many double-parent households it’s cheaper for a parent to stay home than pay for child care. Even that is a luxury though.

CREDIT: Photo credit: SEIU

Twenty-five-year old Yolanda Palacios, a researcher for a construction notice company, and her husband, a working musician, struggle to get by, even on two incomes. Her student loan payments and child support for his daughter from a previous relationship have added extra financial strain. The little extra money they have is going towards her husband’s immigration lawyer, who is helping them establish permanent residency. He’s currently undocumented.

“We pretty much live paycheck to paycheck. Staying home is not an option,” says Palacios. “Right now I’m just trying to find a higher paying job. But since we’re working on his residency I have to sponsor him. I need to have a stable income, so I don’t know if I go and get a new job it will affect his residency application.”

Currently, Palacios’ mom is providing childcare at little cost. However, her mom is planning on going back to work in the next year, leaving Palacios and her family in a tough spot. After researching childcare near her, she realized it’s out of reach and saving for that coming cost is nearly impossible.

It’s stressful. Right now I’m trying not to think about it,” she says. “But with the quality of childcare when we even get it – it’s stressful. I think about how my son is going to be affected because he’s used to my mom, and then he’s gonna be in a whole new environment.”

Leslie Zaragoza is a 27-year-old mother to a two-year-old. She and her husband are currently paying $400/month out of pocket to her mother-in-law and sister for childcare, and unfortunately, their cost just went up as they’ve had to move to a non-family provider. Zaragoza will now be paying $560/month to an at-home daycare, or $6,720/year. That’s a major increase for her family. They’ve moved in with her mom to save for a house, but are finding it hard to do so without sacrificing their son’s well being.

“It’s important for him to be in a daycare where he’s not just being watched but being taught,” she says. “I feel like all the daycares that offer education are a lot more expensive. It’s just frustrating not to be able to be able to afford a childcare where your child can get an education.”

She’s already seen behavioral issues with her son as a result of the instability of his childcare. While the financial burden is huge on her family, Zaragoza hopes her son will benefit from not bouncing around between providers anymore.

According to Ignatius, the current system “puts low-income families in a tough spot because it’s not great for provider,” who “have to take a gamble” on parents with subsidized care, knowing there’s a good chance they won’t get paid by the agencies for any number of reasons.

“It doesn’t benefit them to have these families, but those families need childcare,” she says.

However, providers often step up, sacrificing their own livelihoods by continuing to provide care for children even when parents can’t pay on time or subsidy agencies have their check on hold. And they do it because they’ve forged a tight bond with both parents and the children. There’s love there, and trust, despite a system that fails them both.

If you try to make childcare more affordable on the parents’ side, then it’s coming out of the pay that goes to the providers. Or on the flip side, if you increase pay to providers, you may have to pass on those costs to the parents,” says Ignatius. 

CREDIT: Photo credit: SEIU

“We’re in this system that’s pitting each side against each other and that’s wrong. And that’s why we need government intervention.”

Still, there have been some successes in the fight for childcare access. In California, the governor approved state funding of $25 million to help families remain eligible for childcare subsidies. They’ve raised the State Median Income (SMI) so working parents can accept a raise or promotion without losing their subsidized childcare. Families who are eligible for affordable childcare will now also remain eligible for 12 months, even if there’s a change in need or their income, unless their income goes over 85 percent of the current SMI.

That means less unnecessary paperwork that bogs down the entire system, from provider and parents, to employers and school and agency administrators who all have to fill out paperwork for one child to receive care. Parents previously had to go through the process every four months, sometimes with multiple employers that have multiple jobs. With this change, which goes into effect next month, there will be more stability for parents children and providers, and less disruption of both care and pay.

“It was all an attempt to catch someone in a lie; someone frauding the system,” says Ignatius. “In fact, agencies reported that the majority of their case load was still eligible after year, despite having to chase people down for documentation. There really was no need to require that. Providers also caught in middle because if documents are not filed, providers don’t get paid.”

It’s a step in the right direction; a necessary stitch in a bleeding wound. Parents, providers, and organizers are fighting hard to improve the system for all. But there’s still much more that needs to be won. It’s all so providers and families can thrive, and children can grow healthier and have greater opportunities. It’s about breaking the systemic cycles that keep them perpetually at a disadvantage, unable to gain the opportunities this country promises to those who work hard and dream for more. Their dreams are basic, and it’s up to the government to decide if they can reach them.

READ: Meet The Organizers Fighting For Childcare Providers Who Are Struggling To Get By

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Meet The Organizers Fighting For Childcare Providers Who Are Struggling To Get By

Things That Matter

Meet The Organizers Fighting For Childcare Providers Who Are Struggling To Get By

Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

In honor of Labor Day, mitú is running a short series highlighting childcare providers in California and those affected by struggles with childcare. One in three providers in California are Latina. They and others are fighting for a fairer wage, collective bargaining within the government and many other issues.

It’s a cool Friday evening at a Ramona Duran’s house in Long Beach, California, where in her back room she runs Ramona’s Daycare. The daycare serves 14 children from the community, with Duran and her assistant taking on the task of teaching them the vital basics, like their ABC’s, 123’s and colors, as well as important lessons in caring, socializing and understanding the world. Duran’s daycare is more than just a waiting room for children who need a place to stay until their parents can pick them up after work. She takes pride in the special bond she has with the children and parents that she provides childcare.

“The beautiful part is that you receive all the love from the children, the love of the parents,” she says. “They’re grateful to you. You see that they love you.”

CREDIT: Childcare providers meeting at Ramona Duran’s home. Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

Love is what pushes providers to do the work they do and to continue working within a system that’s unreasonably complicated and devalues their work. Childcare providers struggle to get by on less than minimum wage, working upwards of 75 hours a week for as low as $2 an hour. Read our first installment in this series to learn more about childcare provider’s wage struggles.

Love, unfortunately, doesn’t pay the $500 in food many pay per week to feed the children in their care. Love doesn’t cover the rent and high utility bills, the diapers and baby wipes or the educational toys their kids learn and play with. It doesn’t provide them savings for retirement, health insurance or worker’s compensation if they get hurt. And love doesn’t ensure they’re paid on time or even at all.

A group of 20 or so women have gathered at Ramona’s house to discuss these struggles and many others they face as childcare providers. Many have brought their children and grandchildren with them, unable to find childcare for themselves to attend this meeting.

The women are all members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), working together and supporting one another in their fight to sustain themselves and their families. And it is a fight.

CREDIT: Maria Duque leading the meeting with childcare providers. Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

At the head of this meeting is Maria Duque, a 26-year-old organizer for SEIU Local 99. In her pink jeans and purple SEIU t-shirt, Duque stands before the women, fielding their questions, providing information and maintaining order when the providers go off on an agency, the lack of pay or one of the other problems they’re facing.

“As a union, we’re here to help each other, ask questions and share what we learn,” she tells them.

Duque, along with Jovanna Hernandez, 26, and Marianna Arrellano-Renteria, 48, are all organizers with SEIU Local 99, working on the childcare providers campaign to help providers win collective bargaining rights with the state that would enable them to negotiate a living wage, access trainings that would provide better early care and education and to fight for greater access to affordable childcare for families. Sitting inside their LA headquarters, an old Victorian house covered in posters from actions and marches they’ve led, the organizers discuss their work and the women they fight for.

Duque is originally from Ecuador. She came to the U.S. with her family as an undocumented immigrant when she was five. She didn’t realize she was undocumented until she was seven. Her father set up plans of action for Duque in case he and his wife were deported. Years later, Duque’s brother was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“When I saw what happened to my brother, it put things in perspective of how difficult it is to live in this country as an undocumented person,” she says. “That was around the time I started organizing, because I understood that it’s the only way that you can change things and fight towards something better.”

Hernandez was born and raised in East Los Angeles to undocumented parents. Her two older sisters are DACA recipients. Seeing her sisters struggle in the shadows of their citizenship status while she freely could pursue a college education and scholarships made Hernandez realize her privileges. She’s been organizing since high school, charged by the proposed 2006 bill H.R. 4437, which attempted to raise penalties for illegal immigration and classify undocumented immigrants and anyone who helped them enter or remain in the US as felons. Her mother also served as a community representative at Hernandez’s school, advocating for students and parents and leading meetings.

“This all led me to be responsible with my privileges,” she says.

Hernandez now works for the same union that represented her mother; the union that won her mother death benefits. Those benefits allowed Hernandez and her sisters to get a college education after her mother died on the job. She now works to ensure childcare providers and their families can get the benefits that will protect them and their families.

CREDIT: Posters at SEIU Local 99. Photo credit: Alex Zaragoza/mitú

Arrellano-Renteria has been on the childcare providers campaign the longest, since 2010. Her parents were both active union members. She became an organizer while working at a cemetery back in 1999, after seeing the poor treatment and inhumane conditions the Latino workers endured on the job and the degradation they received from management. One of those workers would become her husband.

“I realized someone had to step up,” she says. “So I started funneling information to the workers, assisting them and translating stuff for them.”

As Arrellano-Renteria puts it, she is happiest when she’s helping others.

The meetings they host don’t only serve to inform the providers. They also give them a space to spend time with one another. There they can see they’re not alone in their struggles.

“It’s a very lonely industry. You’re working in your own home space. Even though they were kind of all over the place, it was beautiful,” recalls Duque of the meeting at Duran’s home. “They hadn’t seen each other for a while and were finally engaging and talking about problems they’re having with the agencies. I think one of the big components of the house meetings is the chance to connect with each other.”

Leading meetings is no easy feat, but organizers have their way of ensuring everyone is heard and walks away empowered in the knowledge they receive. It’s how they can find strength in numbers, and push each other to fight for their collective progress.

CREDIT: Marianna Arrellano-Renteria at SEIU Local 99. Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

“We’re here working for these women,” says Hernandez. “So the meetings that take place are because providers thought information was important to provide to other women.”

The work of an organizer is slow. It’s pushing at a wall that doesn’t want to budge in the hopes that you can move it even an inch, because that inch can mean a better life and societal progress for the marginalized and disenfranchised.

The work is wrought with disappointments, and also victories that keep them pushing forward. Organizers and providers have worked hard to get bills passed the House of Representatives and Senate. But once their bills make it to the governor’s desk, they’re vetoed almost immediately. Then providers and organizers start all over, vowing to continue until they win.

They saw this just last year with the veto of Senate Bill 548, which would inform providers about training opportunities and help them form and join provider organizations to share their common concerns and advocate for improvements to the state-funded child care system, according to the bill.

“Even with all these obstacles, they’re resilient,” says Duque. “I remember the day after the veto, the providers and union leaders were all clearly affected, but they’re still resilient. They’re still here. There’s that understanding that you’ve still got to fight.”

“That’s why they’re so inspiring. There’s so many problems. Nobody cares about you. Nobody gives funding to you,” says Hernandez. “Yet this work is important. Just because nobody gives more funding or fixes these problems, doesn’t mean that the problems don’t exist. And these providers think, ‘Well, we’ve got to keep moving forward even when we see a bunch of doors shut all the time. We’ll find a window open.’”

CREDIT: Jovanna Hernandex (left) and Maria Duque at SEIU Local 99. Photo credit: Rebecca Garcia/SEIU

There’s no question for the organizers about the need for this work to be done. As Hernandez puts it, the injustices and broken system don’t disappear if they stop organizing. Someone has to do this work, and for her, it’s all she’s ever known. In effect, childcare providers and organizers do their work for the same reasons: because they love those they work with and understand that they provide an important service that benefits children, parents and communities that struggle with poverty and low resources.

“That’s our job, our conversations: to make them feel empowered,” says Hernandez. “To make them realize they have power to change things so they speak up and take action.”

As Arrellano-Renteria puts it, the devaluing of the childcare provider’s work often becomes internalized.

“It isn’t until recently through all the work that we’ve been doing that providers themselves are starting to take notice and say ‘I’m not a babysitter. I just never thought about it,’” she says. “Or ‘I am an educator.’ Perpetuating the same stereotypes that the general public would have had for them is part of the problem. Now all providers are hip to that.”

Early education is proven to be a vital part of a child’s development, often setting their path for success in education and their later careers. Education is instrumental in breaking the cycle of poverty in communities of color and low-income communities. There are plenty of organizations and campaigns that champion early education, like Head Start and First 5. However, childcare providers are often forgotten in the discussion of early education, despite serving as early educators to countless children. Their work can mean the success of a little person who was born into the world already at a disadvantage. As Hernandez puts it, “If you fix education, you can fix poverty.”

“Early education is so important. There’s a reason why at higher education institutions, the demographic makeup looks a specific way,” she adds. “And that’s because not everyone has the same opportunities in early education. I think once they’ve entered a school, it’s already too late. They need to know their colors, their numbers, their letters, and childcare providers teach this to the children.”

And so organizers fight to protect them and ensure they can do their work, sustain themselves and be present in the creation of the legislature that will affect their lives and the lives of the children and parents. Especially considering their selflessness.

“One of the providers I spoke to yesterday was telling me how she can’t charge a private family what the agency is paying her,” says Duque. “She says ‘Whatever the mom can pay, with that we can make it work.’ They’re selfless. They do the work they do because not only do they love it, but because they’re there for the children.”

“That’s why I’m out there assisting providers to really focus on themselves and what they do as educators,” adds Arrellano-Renteria. “Because one provider with a house of 14 kids, they’re the ones that are superheroes going out and changing lives. If I can inspire the provider, the provider is going to change the world.”

The organizers have their eyes set on 2018, when the California gubernatorial seat and other important seats in the different houses of government will be open for midterm elections. They plan on backing candidates that will fight for providers and give them that collective bargaining power. And while they’ve seen disappointment, the organizers believe it can happen.

“This campaign is all about faith,” says Hernandez. “Reason doesn’t get us anywhere. Clearly, families are in need, children are in need. Reason would give us funding, but this all about ‘do you value this work?'”

READ: Childcare Providers Are Fighting For Their Livelihoods And A Seat At The Table

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