Policy, Business, and Child Care Leaders Discuss Home-Based Child Care in California
New report highlights the importance of home-based child care and calls for policy solutions that sustain and build on this essential component of the child care landscape.
Access to high quality, affordable child care is one of the most pressing issues facing working parents, a crisis further exacerbated by the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of child care in the United States is home-based, with home-based childcare (HBCC) providers serving 97% of all children in the United States. While HBCC serves as essential support for the U.S. and California workforce, the sector faces many critical challenges that call for urgent action.
On January 14, ReadyNation California held a virtual event with policy, business, and child care leaders to release our newest report titled, “Home-Based Child Care: A Surprising Key to Keeping the California Workforce Strong” and discuss policy solutions to strengthen and sustain this sector. The panel discussion served as an opportunity to gather critical stakeholders to spotlight challenges and share solutions aimed at strengthening and sustaining the home-based child care sector. Policy solutions include: enhancing HBCC programmatic supports, increasing professional development support, extending pandemic relief funds, as well as streamlining California’s bifurcated reimbursement system for providers.
The panel featured Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin, Benu Chhabra, a Licensed Family Child Care Provider with the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, Micaela Mota, a parent advocate with Parent Voices California, Donna Sneeringer, Chief Strategy Officer with the Child Care Resource Center, Lilly Rocha, CEO of the Latino Restaurant Association, and Sylvia Susie Duarte, President of the Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The panel was moderated by Shelly Masur, CSA California State Director, with Sandra Bishop, Ph.D., CSA Research Director, providing the research context of the report.
Sandra Bishop, Ph.D. provided a brief context for HBCC in California, including that HBCC providers serve over 271,000 children in California, ages birth through 5, and are an essential support for the California workforce.
Licensed Family Child Care Provider Benu Chhabra spoke on some of the challenges providers typically deal with, particularly in the face of the global pandemic, including financial constraints, heightened exposure to COVID19, and difficulties relating to the costs and availability of personal protective equipment. “As childcare providers,” she stated, “ we are committed to providing parents with all the support they need. And yet, there are many challenges, including putting ourselves at risk and lack of PPE supplies.“ Benu also spoke on the importance of programmatic support and professional development resources for enhancing the quality of care, two policy recommendations included in the report.
Micaela Mota from Parent Voices California shared her personal testimony as a working parent, essential worker, and advocate of quality care. She credited HBCCs affordability, flexible operating hours, and a smaller, more individualized care environment with helping her balance her family and work life. "Our childcare provider is like family and has helped me do my job as an essential worker, “ she shared. And yet, Micaela recognized, her “home-based child care is in need of critical support during these challenging times.”
Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin affirmed the importance of affordable, accessible, and high-quality child care, both from the perspective of a state legislator, as well as the father of two-year-old twins. “ The care of our youngest Californians is of utmost importance to our working families and our economy,” he stated, “ California’s home-based child care generates $1.4 billion in revenue annually and is a crucial pillar of this sector.” In addition, he relayed an overview of the upcoming legislative session and expressed his commitment to work towards a sustainable and better-resourced HBCC system.
ReadyNation members Lilly Rocha, CEO of the Latino Restaurant Association, and Sylvia Susie Duarte, President of the Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce both illustrated business leaders’ critical connection to the child care industry. “As business leaders, we care about the positive impact of high-quality child care on children and working families, as well as its positive impact on the economy because of the greater productivity that it creates,” shared Lilly. Similarly, Sylvia shared witnessing her employees struggling to balance work duties with child care responsibilities. “I do my best to accommodate and provide her with flexibility, but sometimes, things can change for her and she will have to leave earlier or take calls from home, she shared, adding, “Whether it is on the demand side or supply side, home-based child care is an important part of our local and state economies. Nothing has made that clearer than this pandemic.” As business leaders, Lilly and Sylvia have firsthand knowledge of HBCC’S surprising role in assisting working parents to provide for their families, as well as helping rebuild the California economy.
Finally, Donna Sneeringer, Chief of Strategy with the Child Care Resource Center closed off the panel discussion with a deeper dive into policy solutions for the HBCC sector, including enhancing the quality of caregiving, promoting sustainability of care, and increasing provider pay. In recognizing HBCC providers’ critical contribution to keeping the economy afloat, Donna also urged advocating for their inclusion in our economic recovery efforts. She stated, “Home-based child care providers are heroes of this pandemic and we cannot thank them enough. Providers are largely representative of our state, predominantly women of color. Looking ahead, we must ensure that family is included in our recovery planning.”
The event culminated with a question and answer session with our panelists. Shelly Masur signed off the event by reaffirming HCC’s invaluable contributions to the economy, and the need for policymakers, business, and child care leaders to continue advocating for the inclusion of this sector as we take on the challenge of rebuilding California’s economy.
View the video of the full event below, and access the full report here.
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