CT child care workers appreciate $1,000 bonus but say more is needed to boost pay
Connecticut child care providers will soon see a one-time bonus check up to $1,000 as a part of a $70 million state initiative that Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week.
The initiative, called “Wage Supports for Early Childhood Educators,” was created to show gratitude for the service of child care workers, particularly during the height of the pandemic, Lamont said.
“Child care staff work consistently to provide critically needed care to ensure that children are safe and their parents and guardians have the support necessary to go to work,” Lamont said in a released statement. “We need to support this important industry that is vital to families, the workplace, and society.”
The bonuses will provide up to $1,000 for full-time workers and $400 for part-time workers.
Some child care workers said that while the bonus will help, it is not the solution to an ongoing crisis.
Katherine Lantigua, the owner of K Colorful Daycare in Bridgeport, said her bonus check will go immediately to replacing old highchairs. That means she won’t have any money left over for other much-needed support.
“Does the bonus help? Yes. But is it enough? Not at all,” said Lantigua, who cares for nine children. “The state’s support should have gone to raising our wages. Child care providers only get paid $8.50 per hour, so when you calculate the hours that we’re working and when you give us a $1,000 bonus, it doesn’t add up to all the amount of hours that we work.”
Lantigua, who is president of the child care council of CSEA SEIU Local 2001, often works 15-hour days taking care of children with different needs.
She said many child care providers have closed their home centers because they’re not getting paid enough to continue operations.
“Families need us,” said Lantigua, who is also a certified medical assistant and a state child care CPR instructor. “But sometimes it’s better if we go out to work for Amazon or other companies where you’re getting paid $18 an hour. We often have to debate if I’m gonna pay my mortgage, or if I’m gonna buy the food that’s needed for my children or if I’m gonna pay my utilities. That shouldn’t be a debate.”
Child care providers have to apply for the funds, and those eligible will then distribute the bonuses to their workers. According to the state, eligible providers include those who work in licensed centers, group child care homes, family child care homes and license-exempt programs that receive school readiness or child day care contract funds.