(I recieved this email in response to my previous post, and since she asked if someone could post it on this site, I gladly obliged)
If someone would post this on Blue Mass Group I would really appreciate it. I am a family child care provider in Easthampton and I am working together with other providers to pass Question 3 so that we can have a place at the table and help the state improve child care. I saw that you wrote about Question 3 and I want to respond to the email Chris Wagner posted from his mother. She was concerned with whether Question 3 could make things better for low-income families.
Providers who support Question 3 are also very concerned with making sure low-income families can afford quality child care, and that’s one of the reasons we want to form our union.
In her email Chris Wagner’s mother said that providers are not mandated to accept subsidies. She’s exactly right. When subsidy rates are low, providers stop accepting them and children of low-income parents can’t get the care they need.
Raising reimbursements rates would not mean that fewer families would receive child care assistance. Instead it would mean that families who do receive child care subsidies would be able to afford more providers and could get better quality care for their children. There isn’t one fixed amount of support the state can give working families, where you have to take from one to give to another. By joining together in unions providers in other states have been able to free up funding for kids and families, and get care for kids on waiting lists and improve choices for parents at the same time.
The state agency is opposing Question 3 (scroll to the bottom), but that’s just more proof of why it’s needed. DEEC doesn’t want to involve providers in the decisions that affect us and our kids. The statement they put out says that’s because they need to balance access, affordability, and quality, but with 17,000 kids on the waiting list going without quality child care they obviously aren’t striking the right balance.
We are working to form our union because we want to have a voice in decisions that affect us, and help the state make child care work better for kids, parents and providers. Question 3 wouldn’t let providers make those decisions ourselves, all it would do is give us an official place at the table where the decisions are made.
We also want a voice to support regulations that protect children and help providers keep serving our communities. When providers can’t afford to stay in business, kids end up in child care situations that aren’t regulated at all.
She wrote that some providers take in $40K in payments but what that doesn’t tell you is that most of that goes right back into the cost of providing care, improving your facility to keep up with new standards, and providing nutritional food to your kids. There often isn’t enough left over to make ends meet, much less afford health care.
Providers are independent businesses, but part of our wages and a lot of the conditions that make it hard to keep providing care are up to the state, and right now we don’t have any voice at all in that. That’s why almost a third of providers every year stop doing child care.
We need Question 3 so that we will have a voice to help the families that depend on us and make sure quality child care is there when parents need it. I hope that all parents and providers will see why this initiative is good for Massachusetts children.