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Child care providers push legislators to increase state subsidy
Posted On: Feb 22, 2013
Local 132 members pose with state Sen. Chip Shields (second from left) during the CCPT Lobby Day on Feb. 20. The members (left to right) include Renee Holmes, Sabi Velasco and Autumn David.

AFSCME and SEIU team up to present a united front at the capitol

Oregon AFSCME and SEIU collaborated on a child care providers Lobby Day Feb

Oregon AFSCME and SEIU collaborated on a child care providers Lobby Day Feb. 20 at the state capitol. Child care providers — AFSCME represents the licensed, registered ones, SEIU the exempt, unlicensed ones — have not seen an increase in the state subsidy rate since 2007. While there is talk at the capitol about the possibility of expanding the Employment-Related Day Care (ERDC) program, Oregon AFSCME Political Coordinator Eva Rippeteau says all involved are in "a tough spot" when the discussion moves to adding more families off the waiting list vs. increasing the subsidy rate.


"For example, our Local 132 (Child Care Providers Together) President Autumn David has been a provider the past 16 years, and she's only seen one increase in those 16 years," said Rippeteau. "Some of our providers get as little as $2 per hour per child through the state subsidy — that's simply not enough for them to stay in business. So it's a difficult issue."


The state actually has some additional money available from a 2001 federal block grant. In the 2012 mini-session, AFSCME and SEIU jointly asked if some of that $5.4 million "left over" block grant money could be used for either add-backs to those in ERDC, or to increase rates.


"We were told 'no' on that request, but also told we could ask to use the money in 2013 as part of an 'expansion' of the program," says Rippeteau. "We've talked with several legislators, and there's not a clear definition of what 'expansion' means. There are probably 2,000 to 3,000 families out there that would like to be added to the program, but adding them at the current subsidy rate doesn't help our providers much. It's not an issue with an easy answer."


Despite some fuzziness around the issues, Lobby Day participants felt good about their time at the capitol. They delivered three key messages to legislators:


  • We need increased rates — Child care providers in Oregon have not had a pay increase since 2007 and make, on average, $2 an hour per child they care for.


  • Working families need access to affordable child care — Oregon has implemented drastic cuts to the ERDC program, which means fewer parents have access to affordable child care. Without the assistance of the child care program, a parent who earns minimum wage cannot afford even the lowest cost child care options.


  • Kids deserve quality care — Union child care providers have been advocating for improved trainings and tools around early-learning and school readiness.


"It was great," said David. "We had the opportunity to share with many legislators what we do and what ours need are. Some of our children did the 'ask' to state Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland) — it turned out that some of them go to school in Portland with his daughter. So I felt it was a very productive day."


In addition to David, AFSCME participants included providers Renee Holmes, Sue Mackey and Sabi Velasco, in addition to Rippeteau and Local 132 staff rep Faye Zepeda.


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