My name is Tonia, and I’m a Superhero.In fact, I know about 60,000 other Superheros throughout the state of California. Together, we do the crucial work of preparing young learners for success in school and supporting working women – especially single mothers – who rely on us to make ends meet in jobs with low wages.
I’ve cared for my community’s children for 22 years. I help raise children with good values and a good educational foundation all while enabling their parents to go to work I’m very proud of what I do. I know I’m making a difference.
That’s exactly what I told the Assembly Select Committees on the Status of Women and Girls of Color and Women in the Workplace, the Legislative Women’s Caucus, the State Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, and the Stronger California Network at their hearing on the gender wage gap for women of color.
I told them that we are coaches, counselors, and yes -- educators. We develop games and lessons to support learning. We provide tasty and nutritious meals. We kiss away the hurt from bumps and bruises. We play instruments and sing.
But despite the crucial work and support we provide to our communities, we are not paid the Superhero salary or receive half the of the perks.
Here’s the cold hard truth: The average family child care provider makes just $4.98 an hour - well below the minimum wage - and the average center based child care worker makes $11.86 an hour. The child care workforce is facing a poverty crisis, just like the families we serve.
Here’s some more truth I shared: teacher pay and working conditions are directly linked with the quality of child care programs, so if we are really serious about providing the best early education and care possible, then we can’t continue to ignore our workforce.
I believe that we can create a system where providers like me can have a real voice in ensuring that our children are receiving the best early education and care possible. Together, we will create a California where every child has access to the early learning and care that positions them for academic success and a strong future, where every parent who needs access to go to work can access it and where everyone who works hard is paid enough to care for their own family.