A Supplier’s Struggle to Survive in the Business – NBC 7 San Diego
Child care and early education programs are a crucial part of child well-being and are necessary for many working families.
According to the most recent data from the Kids Count Data Center, about two-thirds of children under the age of six in the United States have both working parents.
Caregivers are one of the main contributors to quality early education, but they rarely feel recognized as such.
Sandra Cumplido’s day starts at 8 a.m. and ends well after 7 p.m. She works seven days a week and cares for eight children, all under the age of three.
“They’re learning their ABCs, they’re learning their language,” Cumplido said. “I teach [them] English and Spanish. “[They] especially [like lessons involving] dancing. Oh my God, they love to dance, especially to Mexican songs. They really like cha-cha.
She has been doing this job for nearly 30 years, but she still cannot afford to pay an adequate salary.
“It’s a good thing I saved some money,” Cumplido said. “It’s not a lot of money, but I have money. But, like, I wish we as child care providers were paid more. [At least] minimum wage, so I wouldn’t have to use my savings to keep my assistants or buy essentials.
Cumplido only serves low-income families who receive state-subsidized care. This means that she relies on grants to fund her business. Typically, she says, she receives $257 per week per child under two.
“You divide $257 over five days and it comes out to $51.40 per day,” Cumplido said. “Now you divide that by 10 hours, and that comes out to $5.14 an hour. That’s the amount I get per child. And that’s for a baby, for toddlers, that’s is less, and preschoolers are less.”
Cumplido says she keeps less than half the money she makes. Most of it is used to pay her rent, bills, groceries, diapers and maintenance of her daycare. Her struggles are typical of educators who have long been among the lowest paid workers in the country.
According to data from the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, earnings for child care workers range from $16,200 to $30,000 per year. Putting the salaries of professionals in this sector below those of many cleaners, fast food workers and retail workers.
Employment benefits are also often scarcer for childcare providers like Cumplido, who run small businesses from home. According to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, less than half of child care providers have time off as part of their family agreements. Only about a fifth have retirement savings and at least 16% lack health insurance, compared to 8% of the entire US population who do not.
“I’m still here because I love my job,” Cmplido said. “And like I said, this is my life, this is what I know, that’s all. And I’m fighting, but I’m always here for my community and for parents. I’m always here and I’m very passionate about it.
But many early childhood professionals find the numbers just don’t add up. Lori Borne ended the childcare program she ran from home last year.
“When the pandemic started, in-home childcare providers and nannies weren’t even addressed,” Borne said. “When it came to closing everything, schools, preschools were approached, they were given resources, they were given information, but not early childhood education and home child care. . “
For 22 years, Borne cared for and meticulously guided and educated the little ones in his care.
“We were providing them with their nutrition, their education, their environmental enrichment, their science enrichment, just their daily life and getting them ready for preschool,” Borne said.
When its landlord failed to renew its lease, Borne was forced to shut down its program and seek a new location.
“When you have your kids stay at home, you rely on the money you can put aside,” Borne said. “There was no type of program available for me to get funding to be able to move to, you know, [or] hold out for months until enrollment recovers.
According to research by Child Care Aware of America, his center was one of approximately 16,000 closures nationwide between December 2019 and March 2021. In San Diego, in the first six months of 2021 alone, 37 centers have closed with only 20 openings. at the top. The closures are hitting the most vulnerable neighborhoods the hardest.
Lack of support and funding is a common complaint among professionals.
“One of the barriers is when providers don’t get timely notice to get the resources they need to deliver quality child care,” said Kathleen Tostado-Kenshur, owner of the Encinitas child care company.
Tostado-Kenshur has been a supplier for over 45 years. She sits on the board of several child care worker groups and advocates for those on the ground.
“If I was the decision-maker, I’d make sure to take inflation into account, be more up-to-date, you know, [with the amount given to providers in subsidies,]Tostado-Kenshur said. “Really look at the big picture of what it’s going to take, you know, to keep these people in business.”
Tostado-Kenshur talks about subsidized child care, but many families not only don’t qualify for benefits, they can’t afford child care.
NBC 7 reached out to County to ask how it supports the child care industry in San Diego and was introduced to Dezerie Martinez, who sits on the Child Care and Development Local Planning Council.
“The board is responsible for developing a plan, essentially recommendations, for the County Board of Supervisors and the County Superintendent of Schools to help them determine the best way forward and to meet the needs when it comes to child care,” Martinez said.
More recently, she says, the county board of supervisors approved a plan to prioritize labor. Included in the plan is a proposed child care worker rate reform that includes support for wages and professional benefits that match the expertise and commitment of the provider.
NBC 7 also contacted the State of California to ask if they were aware of the concerns expressed to us by the educators and they responded with an April press release. The release announced that they would have awarded an additional $289 million to the child care industry, of which 27,000 providers would have received additional assistance of up to $10,000.
Meanwhile, carers like Cumplido cling to their passion.
“They need to see what we do as child care providers,” Cumplido said. “They will see, they will be amazed at how hard we work.”
She hopes support and recognition will come sooner rather than later.