- What have we as family child care providers gained since forming a union?
Family child care providers have won higher payment rates in the Care 4 Kids (C4K) program for the four years, a fund for professional development, and monetary recognition for those of us with a CDA and/or NAFCC accreditation. We also have a seat on the Governor’s Early Childhood Cabinet.
- What is next on our agenda?
Our CSEA Family Child Care Council will ensure regular communication and progress on issues like access to health and dental care, payment for non-standard hours, and changes to the redetermination process for families. Providers are also interested in retirement planning.
- What about training opportunities?
Providers spoke out and made our first contract all about quality – rewarding it, paying for improving it, and making sure all family child care providers have access to services that make life better for ourselves and the children in our care. Providers won professional development funding for business courses, ESL classes, CDA courses, and anything pertaining to running a top notch family child care home. Our union will be scheduling special evening and/or Saturday discussions on provider-requested topics such as dealing with difficult parents, marketing your program, or how to work well with the licensing agent.
- I already belong to a local association of providers. Why should I get involved in the union?
Local networks provide important support for our child care profession, and we need more of them! Associations and unions share the goal of raising up family child care as a profession. However, only our Union has legal standing to negotiate binding agreements with the state. Through our Union, associations have a stronger voice in the development of state policy and laws. We can harness the power of 65,000 other members of SEIU in Connecticut who also want good public policies for working families.
- I get my fee regardless of what the state pays. Parents always pay me the difference. So why should I care about payment increases?
The newly negotiated rates are closing the gap between what providers charge and what C4K pays. When struggling parents catch a break by a raise in the C4K rates, we all win. It allows more low-income families to choose family child care as the setting for their children.
- How much are the union dues?
Our union dues are 1.5% of whatever you receive from C4K with a maximum of $35 per month, no matter how much you earn from C4K. For example, if you receive $750 per month from C4K, $11.25 will be deducted from that amount for dues. With one free CPR and First Aid class, the dues pay for themselves. Union dues can be a tax deductible business expense.
- What are the dues for?
Our Union fights for us, the members. In order to do that, resources are needed. Dues cover the costs of negotiating contracts, representing providers who experience delays in C4K payments, or who have difficulty accessing other provisions of the contract, such as professional development or home improvement funds. Dues support providers’ travel to conferences, fees for speakers of interest to child care providers, staff to organize our ongoing programs, and making our voice heard at the State Capitol. Dues are NOT used to fund candidates for public office.
- I consider myself to be an independent business person. How can a union help me?
Through our child care union we help one another deliver better services to working families and their children. Our Union is us. We will not tell you how to run your business, what you should teach, or how you interface with parents. But all businesses need to keep an eye on the public policies that affect our bottom line. Sometimes that means changing public policies and this requires political muscle. Our power comes from providers pooling their collective wisdom and strength and then taking action. Isn’t our message better heard when we stand together?
- Do I have to become a Union member if I take Care 4 Kids?
Union membership is voluntary but by uniting thousands of providers we will have the strongest voice with the state. The more members we have the more power we have to achieve what family child care providers need.
- If I take in a Care 4 Kids child, the situation doesn’t work out and the relationship with Care 4 Kids ends, will I pay dues for the rest of the year anyway?
No, the dues come out of the subsidy check. No subsidy check, no dues deduction.
- Can the union help preserve family child care as a choice for parents?
United in CSEA-SEIU, licensed home-based providers can demonstrate that children leave their care ready and eager for school and we will take our place at the early care and education table. As a large group – almost 1,000 licensed providers accepting Care 4 Kids – we can show educators that our children are nurtured body, soul and mind. As the family child care union, we will work to raise the value placed on family child care for all ages. To make our case, we need the active participation of all licensed providers!
- Will the union help change the infant/toddler ratios so I can make more money?
Our recently negotiated contract calls for an increase of 33.5% over four years in the rates paid for all children under the age of three in licensed family homes. This recognizes the importance of individualized attention at this critical stage in a child’s development.
- Why can’t high quality family child care providers get “school readiness” dollars?
Being part of the union gives licensed child care providers a voice in what we put on our action item agenda. If this is something you want, we can fight for that in our next contract, or maybe even before.
- What is this I hear about discounts? Do I have to be a dues paying member to get those?
The union negotiated various discounts, such as $10 off a B.J.’s Warehouse membership and a 15% discount on Redleaf Press child care resources. Yes, you have to be a dues paying member to use them and they are available as soon as you become a member.
- Can I participate in the union, even if I don’t have a Care 4 Kids child in my care?
We are currently considering an affiliate membership for family child care providers who do not have a Care 4 Kids child at the moment. This will be a decision made by the members themselves, through a democratic process that is the hallmark of a representative union.
- How do I become a member of CSEA?
You may call the office directly – 860 951 6614 – and someone from the child care team can process your membership over the phone. You can download a copy of the membership form from our website – www.ctchildcare.org – and mail it to us.
- How will our union function?
Providers will have their own Family Child Care Council within CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 including representation on the Executive Board. The Council will convene in 2015 to elect regional leaders. In the meantime, a group of 5 or so leaders will be elected to represent family child care providers at important meetings across the state.
- Why did family child care providers form a union?
Connecticut family child care providers who participate in the Care 4 Kids program voted 95% to 5% in December 2011 for union representation. Then, in 2012 we won the right to bargain with the state over subsidy pay, training and other matters related to Care 4 Kids. We now have a strong voice for child care providers.We also use our collective strength to have a voice in the broader governmental decisions that affect family child care and the parents we serve. Without a union, providers are alone with no collective voice in those deliberations.
- What else has our union been up to?
The Union has been reaching out to providers all over the state, assisting with payment issues, networking, and training. We testified in support of the Office of Early Childhood. The Union’s Child Care Team represents us in meetings of the Early Childhood Cabinet and other policy-making tables. We also helped providers and their families navigate Connecticut’s new options for health insurance from October 2013 through March 2014. We enrolled 1,000 members and friends in health care.