California Providers Take Action Against
Broken Child Care System
Eighty local child care providers, parents and children lined the sidewalks and chanted with picket signs to protest mismanagement at the Center for Community and Family Services (CCFS) in Carson, Calif. on Thursday, Jan.12. CCFS did not pay providers in December and is expected to miss January's pay date as well--leaving hundreds of child care providers, parents and children on the breaking point wondering about their futures.
CCFS is just the latest example of how the California child care system is in crisis. Lack of oversight and accountability allows some agencies responsible for managing family child care to get away with outrageous behavior: delayed payments, payments that fall thousands of dollars short and extreme communication failures. The morning of our rally, CCFS closed its doors and turned away everyone who attempted to come inside. Even providers who were arriving during normal business hours to turn in time sheets for completed work were told to go away.
Vanise Valentine, a parent from Lynwood, spoke passionately about how much she relies on her child care provider. Valentine spoke to several reporters present at the scene and also took the megaphone to tell providers how much she supported our fight for respect.
"We're on pins and needles," Valentine told ABC television. "Especially because there's no communication--CCFS hasn't communicated anything to anyone."
Providers held a similar action against CCFS last summer after some had not been paid for three months; several were missing payments that were five months overdue. Some providers at recent rallies have stated that without Child Care Providers United (CCPU), they would have been getting very little information from the agency.
"I finally was successful in getting a mortgage modification that will help me keep my doors open," explained LaShaun Merriman, a Los Angeles provider. "That is until I missed my most recent mortgage payment when my automatic deposit from CCFS didn't hit my bank. Now I'm afraid. Not just of losing my home, but of losing my business. Even if I can find someone kind enough to let me sleep on the couch for a while, no one is going to let me run my business out of their home. I'll be homeless and out of the job I love and the job I'm great at."
After a rally on the sidewalk, providers marched to the CCFS front door. Tonia McMillian, a Bellflower provider, challenged management to come outside and meet with them; no one responded. Providers then wrote notes to management and taped them onto the front door. The only sign of life from the agency was when a CCFS security guard came out and started ripping the notes off the door.
We learned Friday, Jan. 13 the CCFS doors remained closed. There was even a padlock on the door, indicating it was closed for good. The California Department of Education will be working with providers and families to assign them to more reliable local agencies. In the meantime, providers still have not been paid and have not been given a definitive answer as to when they will receive complete payment.