The people who care for many of our children say they were left behind when California raised its minimum wage to $15.
Because they're considered independent contractors of the state, they say they're excluded from the minimum wage.
On Thursday, child care workers went to the Capitol to demand higher wages.
“The early education workforce earns poverty wages,” Tonia McMillan, who runs a daycare in her home, said.
She gets paid through California's subsidized child care program for each of the twelve children she cares for. After factoring in all expenses she says she gets to keep about $5 an hour.
“It's very difficult,” McMillan said.
With the money she gets from the state, she has to pay for utilities, food for the kids, and school supplies. She's also required to have an assistant and pay them minimum wage. And sometimes the money doesn't come in on time.
“If I lose one family or if there’s one delay in payment for one child in my family childcare home, I’m in a big financial mess,” McMillan said.
Child Care providers say they stood by workers in the fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Now, they want to earn the same.
“Quality child care is a latter out of poverty for families but today that latter is broken,” McMillan said.
She not only takes care of the kids she serves, she also teaches them.
“I have a success rate where every child who has left my child care and started kindergarten has started at the top of their class,” McMillan said.
She believes higher wages would attract more quality early educators so that more children from low income families have a fair chance.
“I think I should be compensated at a rate that's equivalent to the work that I have put in,” she said.
SEIU California, which represents child care providers, estimates paying them minimum wage would cost the state $270 million. They propose that money is taken out of the $800 million the California Legislative Woman’s Caucus has requested for child care spending.