Local child care providers demand state health and pension benefits – InsuranceNewsNet

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Elsa Serrano took care of other people’s children in her Oxnard home for 25 years.

She works 10 or more hours a day at least six days a week for what she estimates to be less than $5 one hour for each child. At 56, she is not sure that she will one day be able to retire. She took out her own health insurance, but the $7,800 the deductible is more than she would pay to go to Tijuana and pay for medical care out of pocket.

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On Monday night, Serrano and 40 other child care providers, all women and Latinas, gathered at a busy venue Oxnard intersection to gain support for better wages and benefits. Accompanied by mariachi music, they held up signs with slogans like “I can’t afford to get sick”. Motorists honked their horns in support.

They are door-to-door providers demanding that the state, which subsidizes childcare for low-income families, provide them with health insurance, a pension plan and better pay.

“We need our voices to be heard,” said Liliana Rivera, one of the demonstrators who leaves without insurance. “We want the governor to listen.”

The protest was part of a nationwide ‘A Day Without Childcare’ call to action. Hundreds of vendors across the country shut down their businesses for a day to send a message that they need more support from state and federal governments.

the Oxnard women decided to stay open with some closing an hour earlier. They wanted to gather at the end of the day when more people saw them. They also didn’t want to abandon their customers, some of whom work in health care, retail stores and agricultural fields.

“Families need our care,” said Maria Elena Millingswho runs Discovery Den Daycare from his home in Oxnard. “They depend on us to get to work.”

Home providers said they also remained open throughout the pandemic when other sites were closed. Many of them have a bachelor’s degree in preschool education. The children in their programs range from babies to teenagers. They take older children to and from school.

Service providers open from 5 a.m. They stay open on Saturdays because their customers work on weekends.

“I have known these families for 10 years, for 13 years, how am I not going to work with them? said Serrano. “I want to help families.

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They said too often their voices go unheard and their needs unmet. the Oxnard women came together more than ten years ago to form Latin American Association of Child Care Service Providers. They unionized, joining Child Care Providers United, which represents 40,000 people across California.

A year ago, the union reached its first-ever collective agreement with the state, bringing a minimum 15% raise to providers who provide care to low-income, state-subsidized families. A union representative said talks with the state are ongoing over health care benefits and pension contributions.

Scott Murrayspokesperson for State Department of Social Servicescited ongoing efforts to help providers, including additional payments under the workers’ union contract and efforts to revise the state’s rate structure for child care subsidies that affect provider compensation .

Low wages and the enforced pandemic have compounded the national childcare shortage. A national survey conducted last summer found that 4 out of 5 early learning and child care centers were understaffed. Suppliers across the country said the issue had pushed some of them into less stressful, better-paying jobs in warehouses and restaurant chains.

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“Child care workers in our state receive some of the lowest wages compared to other occupations,” said Christine Schumacher, senior policy analyst for the nonpartisan California Budget and Policy Center. She claimed that inequalities are linked to gender and race.

“There is just an assumption that women will subsidize a lack of investment by continuing to provide this care and that has been the case for decades,” she said. “It is time for state and federal leaders to recognize the critical nature of this work and provide adequate resources.”

the Oxnard providers said they deserve benefits that reflect the services they provide. Millings pondered what would happen if home centers closed. leaving families without care.

“It would be catastrophic,” she said.

USA today contributed to this report.

Tom Kiken covers health care and other news for the Ventura County Star. Join it at [email protected] or 805-437-0255.

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