Home child care providers, contracted by the NJ Department of Human Services and represented by the Child Care Workers Union, a partnership between CWA Local 1037 and AFSCME, ratified a new labor contract this week, bringing a year-long set of negotiations to a close. Home child care providers escalated their grassroots organizing power to ensure a cost of living increase of 2.25% over 18 months and successfully negotiated gains in other areas of their work. Much of the progress made in the contract came out of the Child Care Provider Bill of Rights developed by providers, which was also included in the contract itself.
Driven in large part by the Child Care Provider Bill of Rights, the new contract compensates providers for mandatory trainings, defines an eight-hour day as a legal day’s work and provides additional pay for providers caring for children with special needs.
“We worked hard at the negotiating table to make sure providers caring for children with special needs were properly compensated for the important work they do,” said Ken McNamara, president of CWA Local 1037. “We’re most proud that now providers can use their union contract and the dispute resolution procedure to advocate for the children in their care. The contract broadly defines special needs to include factors such as poverty.”
The contract provides for a ‘special needs’ rate to be paid for care of a child who is under the age of 19 who is physically or mentally incapable of self-care; or a child who has been identified through a written referral from a county welfare agency, legal, medical, social service agency, emergency shelter, or public school which indicates that the child has a serious physical, emotional or mental, or cognitive condition and child care services are required as part of a treatment plan designed to stabilize or ameliorate the situation.
“We worked incredibly hard to make this new contract a reality,” said Shanita Hargrove a child care provider in Newark, NJ. “We knocked on doors in counties across the state. We engaged the working parents we provide services for. We circulated a petition of support that generated more than 500 signatures. We packed buses filled with supporters to attend rallies in Trenton. We built a real movement. But this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish together moving forward.”
CWA Local 1037 partnered with NJ Communities United to work with child care providers to increase the grassroots organizing work needed to negotiate a strong second contract.
“This is a victory for child care providers and it’s a victory for working families who struggle to afford quality child care,” said Trina Scordo, executive director of NJ Communities United. “We engaged working class communities on this issue and built a movement of people dedicated to quality child care and early childhood education. The positive long-term impacts for providers and working families are beyond measure.”
“Everyone agrees that affordable, quality child care and early education are essential to building a foundation for success,” said Danisia Valadez, a home child care provider in Passaic, NJ. “We are extremely proud that this contract not only improves the working conditions for home child care providers, but that it also seeks to provide resources for children who desperately need additional attention and support.”