Should Family Child Care Providers Earn $15 an Hour?

10470693456_d4105ff718_zDenise Doheny has cared for children for 18 years, has a Child Development Associate certificate, is working on her associate’s degree and attends 20 hours of training each year.

Yet she has a hard time making ends meet.

Pay for child care providers only grew 1 percent between 1997 and 2013, far outpaced by inflation. Most make just barely above minimum wage. Yet weekly child care expenses rose more than 70 percent between 1985 and 2011.

It’s been a dilemma for a long time. Many parents can’t afford to pay for quality child care and many child care providers can barely live on what parents can afford to pay.

The Fight for 15 is a new movement that has been advocating for a minimum wage of $15 an hour in the fast food industry, for Walmart employees, and for home care workers.

Now the movement is reaching out to child care workers in homes and centers to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

According to a recent article, “The Unusual Alliance Trying to Fix America’s Broken Child Care System,” the Fight for 15 is a “unique collaboration meant to push lawmakers to look at the whole picture: the need to make child care more available and affordable for parents while also making sure that the workers are paid enough to survive.”

A partnership between parents and child care providers may sound odd because higher wages should mean higher costs for parents. But, parents want the best for their children and without higher wages we will continue see a lot of turnover in the child care field, something that is not good for children.

Make it Work, a partner in the Fight for 15 collaboration recently issued a proposal that includes both subsidies for families to make care affordable as well as a guarantee of at least a $15 minimum wage for caregivers.

The proposal calls for an major increase in government spending to make this a reality. Parents would no have to pay more than 10 percent of their pay for child care. Caregivers could earn Social Security credits for taking time out of the workforce to care for their family members.


Child care organizations have lobbied for many years to increase parent subsidy rates and raise the income of family child care providers. I have been part of this effort in Minnesota through the Child Care Resource and Referral agency I worked at for many years. Family child care association have been part of this effort. Family child care unions have also had some success in some states.

In my opinion, all efforts to increase the income of family child care providers is worthy of support.

The Fight for 15 movement is the latest movement to address the child care dilemma. It shows promise in that it has been able to increase the wages for fast food workers in a number of cities to $15 an hour.

In the end, I don’t believe that family child care providers, as a field, will be able to substantially raise their income without significant additional government support. This means electing officials who will value child care as a high priority and are willing to pass laws to make it happen.

Tom Copeland –

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Categories: Advocacy

3 replies

  1. If you need any help in Wisconsin let me know

  2. I have a concern…

    I do pretty well with my pay for child care.

    I was co-signing for my son’s house.

    My credit score was 775.
    Then they looked at what I made….no go for me to co sign! I do not make enough! He did get the house on his own.

    It totally made me concerned if I needed to purchase something…like a car for myself If my
    Husband wasn’t around.

    I of course do not want to pay taxes etc, if I don’t have to!

    Any suggestions!
    Thank you!

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