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Childcare providers rally statewide demanding better pay, updated childcare system

Members of the Child Care Providers United (CCPU) union say the childcare system in California is close to a "breaking point" but say they can't stop.

SAN DIEGO — Childcare providers across California rallied Monday, asking state leaders to help them stay open.

Members of the Child Care Providers United (CCPU) union say the childcare system in California is close to a "breaking point" but say they can't stop now.

As a working mom in the U.S. Navy, Salena Maxwell knows how hard it can be to find someone trustworthy to care for kids. Lucky for her, she found Genny Leal.

"As soon as I walked into her house, it felt like home," Maxwell said.

Leal says she knows the struggle as a parent and a childcare provider.

"I would be terrified not knowing who am I going to leave my child with if my daycare provider is closed," she said.

It's why they joined members of the CCPU, rallying in several cities across California on what they're calling a "Day Without Childcare."

"Let's imagine we are closed as providers, and a doctor has surgery to do, and all of a sudden, a childcare provider calls and says, 'I'm gonna be closed;' how's it going to be for the doctor to go to work on that day," Leal posed.

She and other providers say they struggle to keep their in-home daycares running. By state law, they follow strict standards and are licensed, but they say operating costs are creeping up, and they have no built-in benefits like healthcare. They say all of this, without more state help, means more of them will have no choice but to close.

"A day without childcare is a day that our families throughout our community cannot survive," San Diego District 7 Councilmember Raul Campillo said while attending the rally in San Diego. "Practically every family needs childcare; they’re looking for it, they’re on waitlists for it, the accessibility and affordability of it is practically none."

Campillo says the CCPU is demanding the state legislature do more to help fund childcare via reimbursement vouchers sent directly to families to help cover childcare costs.

In 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a new bill opening 200,000 childcare slots in the state by 2026 and giving providers $579 million in support and stipends.

It also allows for $250 million in grants to build and renovate daycares and $4.8 million for a new statewide childcare data system.

"It's very difficult for the families that don't have access to childcare and don't have the opportunity to be part of that access," Leal said.

Access to moms, as Maxwell says, is invaluable.

"She is part of the family and raises my children like hers."

WATCH RELATED: Childcare crisis: San Diego families struggling to find childcare

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