After five months of negotiations, the bargaining team of home child care providers representing over 28,000 fellow providers reached a Tentative Agreement with the State of Illinois. This was a challenging time to bargain a new contract, with the State struggling economically and tough times for working families. Providers knew there was a lot at stake, not just for their jobs, but working parents and kids too. That’s why members made this contract fight about winning for both providers and the working parents who count on them for quality child care so they can work.
Despite the challenges, providers and parents united and brought their message directly to Governor Quinn with action taken by thousands:
- Hundreds of postcards were collected from parents and providers, urging the State to make a greater investment in child care,
- Thousands of phone calls were logged to Governor Quinn asking him to bargain a fair agreement, and
- Weekly delegations to Quinn’s Springfield and Chicago offices with kids and working parents by providers’ sides made sure our voices were heard.
The action taken made the difference and providers reached a Tentative Agreement that achieved the priorities that they decided on. In addition to winning rate increases, protecting healthcare and Quality Rating System add-ons, winning money for a training fund, and protecting union rights, providers also won a commitment from the State of $13.5 million over 18 months to lower co-pays for working parents in the Child Care Assistance Program.
“The new rates and rate add-ons we won in this contract make significant progress to achieving living wages for child care providers,” said Maria del Carmen Macias, a provider from Chicago and bargaining committee member. “The new add-ons are especially important for me, I care for infants and have children who go to Head Start and recognition for that through rate increases will go a long way.”
“The new Union Training Fund that we won in our contract is so important for us to be able to provide even higher quality care for our kids,” explained Annie Yarbary, a Decatur child care provider who also served on the bargaining team. “In the past, I’ve had difficulty making trainings that I wanted to attend due to work schedules for the parents who rely on me. With our own training fund, we can create a flexible training schedule so more providers can participate and advance their professional development.”
Thousands of providers cast their ballots, with 99% voting ‘YES’ to approve and implement the new contract. With the ratification, progress towards fairness for providers, parents, and kids across Illinois became a reality.
Child care providers have come a long way in our local, and the improvements they’ve won in this agreement will be a model across the country.
“This was my first time serving on the child care bargaining committee and I’m so proud of everything we’ve won in this contract. Whether it’s progress towards timely payments to providers, notification about adverse terminations, or expanding the food program and our union rights, we made progress on all fronts for working parents, providers, and kids,” said Lesley Moore, a provider in Galesburg and first time bargaining committee member. “We could not have achieved this incredible contract without the action taken by thousands around the state who supported us as we bargained at the table. Now it’s time to look ahead to protecting funding for the Child Care Assistance Program next year!”
Congratulations to home child care providers across Illinois, and stay tuned as we look ahead to protecting the Child Care Assistance Program in next year’s budget.