Sacramento – Gov. Newsom this week missed a critical chance to fix an unjust child care policy that hurts women of color. Newsom vetoed the Affordable Child Care Family Fees Act, a bill with broad bipartisan support, that would have upended California’s racist child care family fees system. Parents, child care providers, and advocates are gravely disappointed.
Parent Voices CA Parent Leader Micaela Mota testified at hearings, and recently graduated with her Master’s:
All my household costs have gone up in the pandemic, and I had to decide if I pay my family fee [or] pay PG&E. Imagine having to risk electricity to pay for child care.
Publicly-funded child care programs provide affordable care to families who need it most. This child care provides stability and enrichment for children, and allows parents and guardians to finish their education and build careers. But after qualifying, families are slammed with unexpected fees that force them into impossible decisions. California has the money to fund its subsidized child care system, but instead has burdened families of color (mostly mothers) who are low-paid and can least afford it. When an equitable system is set up, families will be able to pay off debt, cover rent and essential bills, and have more time with their children. While families benefit now from a temporary fee waiver through June 2023, to undo historic inequities, permanent funding solutions are required.
The Affordable Child Care Family Fees Act (AB 92, Gómez Reyes) would have created an equitable child care families fees system into the future. The spark for this groundbreaking bill came from Parent Voices CA and the parents and families most hurt by family fees. It was crafted by Child Care Law Center, the nation’s only law center focused on child care. The bill was co-sponsored by Parent Voices CA, Child Care Law Center, Child Care Resource Center, the CA Child Care Resource & Referral Network, and American Association of University Women California. It passed the state Assembly and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. It was supported by over 750 parents, child care providers, and state and national organizations.
Parents worked hard for over two years to identify the problem, find the solution, and act with conviction by testifying at hearings and participating in meetings with state agencies. Their efforts need to be honored by acting on the policies they have identified as problematic.
Californians are ready to eliminate policies and laws based in racism, sexism, and oppression. Advocates and parents look forward to making this missed opportunity right by working with the Newsom Administration to fund this policy in Governor’s January budget proposal.
Advocates are also deeply appreciative of Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, who authored and championed the bill. Bill supporters want to thank the hundreds of parents and providers who lent their stories to this effort. It is their experiences that led to the temporary waiver of fees through June 2023.
Policies like child care family fees are part of a constellation of racist laws that have plagued the care economy dating back to the forced, unpaid caregiving labor of enslaved African Americans. With the end of one era of care oppression, began another. In 1938, caregivers were written out of the Fair Labor Standards Act because of racism; denying them labor protections and fair wages. In 1971, Nixon vetoed universal child care. In the 1980s, Reagan perpetuated the lie of the welfare queen. In 2022, Congress had the chance to make a landmark investment in child care equity that would have included the provisions in AB 92, but excluded care economy funding in budget reconciliation. California can lead the way, and we look forward to working with the Governor to be a beacon of justice for the future.