Home child care workers in Connecticut are poised to win their first union contract, with a vote count scheduled for Feb. 14. The contract includes higher pay, training opportunities and a grievance system for 4,000 family child care providers who participate in Connecticut's Care 4 Kids program.
The bargaining committee of providers is urging all those eligible to join the union, vote "yes" on the contract and become active members of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001.
With their union, the providers now have a vehicle to bring about policy changes that will benefit not only the providers but the families who rely on them.
"This contract represents a shift in public policy that will help provide much needed resources for our state's low-income children and the providers who care for them," said CSEA president Patrice Peterson.
Noting that home child care is required at all hours for children of parents working low-wage jobs, Peterson called the contract "a real investment that will be instrumental to closing the achievement gap between Connecticut's low-income students and their peers."
If approved by the members and the state legislature this will be the first raise in state subsidy rates in more than 12 years. In addition to raises ranging from three to 11.25 percent for licensed providers in just the first year, there are raises for those exempt from licensing now because they care for relatives' children, along with financial incentives to get licensed.
Negotiations between CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 and the State of Connecticut began nine months ago.
The providers had voted 1,603-88 to join the union In December 2011 after Governor Malloy issued an executive order allowing home care workers to organize.
"This is another sign of our commitment to raise the level of quality in child care settings, and increase opportunities for young children to be in safe and healthy learning environments that encourage learning," said Malloy. "By increasing wages and providing professional development opportunities for Care 4 Kids home-based family child care providers, we are investing in our children and those who care for them," he added.
Under the tentative contract Care4Kids reimbursement rates will increase by 12 percent over the four year contract for all licensed Family Child Care Providers and all age groups.
Family child care providers who attend the Office of Early Childhood's new four-hour mandatory orientation program will be paid $75. The state will allocate $750,000 over the life of the contract for professional development including college.
In addition, agreement was reached to establish a seat for the union within the Governor's Early Childhood Cabinet. As well, a work group of union and state representatives will help facilitate enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.
Photo: Joined by home-based child care providers and union officials, Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced an agreement between the State of Connecticut and CSEA/SEIU LOCAL 2001 providing for professional development and the first general wage increases in 12 years for family child care providers under Connecticut Care 4 Kids program, the state's program to provide better opportunities for quality child care and subsidize child care costs for low income families. CSEA/SEIU Local 2001.