UFT Home Daycare Providers Win Fight for Higher Wages

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The New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) announced on May 14 that it has agreed to pay home daycare providers the same market rate that providers in the rest of the state have received since October 2007.

"This is a hard-fought victory for the city's 28,000 providers represented by the United Federation of Teachers. Like everyone else hurt by America's biggest recession since the Great Depression, our providers—who are among the lowest-paid workers in the region, earning less than the federal poverty rate for a family of four—have been struggling," says Randi Weingarten, president of both the AFT and the UFT.

On Feb. 25, dozens of New York City's home-based child care providers joined Weingarten and New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. on the steps of City Hall to protest the city's continued refusal to pay the providers overdue and state-mandated raises.

Home-based providers receive government subsidies to watch, care for and educate children from low-income families in preschool and after-school settings. They provide meals and snacks, help children with reading and numbers, help with homework, direct safe play, and care for infants. The providers, who care for more than 85,000 city children in subsidized home settings, are among the lowest-paid workers in the metropolitan region. The average annual wage for providers in New York City is about $19,610, well below the federal poverty line for a family of four in New York City.

Currently, a registered family daycare provider working with a child 10 hours per day, five days a week, can earn $135 a week for caring for that child. Under the new market rate, the provider would earn $150 a week.

"The increase in the market rate will make all the difference in the world for providers," says Tammie Miller, chair of the UFT Home Child Care Providers chapter. "For many of them, it will be a lifeline to stay in the child care field and will help them continue to provide educational opprotunities and high-quality care for thousands of New York City children."

The market rate agreement was reached weeks ago, but the UFT asked that its announcement be delayed until an implementation process was completed, due to the ACS's spotty track record of timely payment to providers.

"We thank all of the organizations and individuals who steadfastly helped in our fight to secure the market rate for our providers, including Gov. Paterson, New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, City Council member Bill de Blasio and the state Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrion," Weingarten says.

May 14, 2009