When Dr. LaWanda Wesley was raising her five children, juggling work, college, rent, and expensive fees for child care meant ever-present stress. LaWanda was part of California’s subsidized child care program. Her child care should have been free. But the state surprised her and other families with child care family fees. When fees were due, LaWanda would think, “I need to pay for gas, and the kids need school clothes and new shoes. How do you pay for it all?”
LaWanda is one of the thousands of California parents forced into impossible decisions because lawmakers never changed a racist policy that stems from lies about Black women. “Family fees are based on that welfare queen myth, that ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ idea. But if I don’t have a bootstrap, then what? I need to one day be able to buy a boot so I can pull the bootstrap,” LaWanda said.
Now, LaWanda’s family is thriving. Two of her daughters are engineers, and she wants the same success and opportunity for every family. As the Director of Government Relations at the Child Care Resource Center, she joined the Law Center and Parent Voices to advocate for legislation to reform family fees for child care and end a policy that has harmed generations of California families. “Waiving the fees makes a difference,” LaWanda said. “You want families to be focused on thriving, not survival.”
Thanks to your support, we sponsored legislation to win another year-long waiver, giving between $60 to $600 a month back to families with low incomes. The Legislature and Governor Newsom agreed – especially after hearing from LaWanda and other parents. There is always more to do to bend the law toward the side of justice. Until we have a fair and equitable policy for child care fees and make child care a civil right, we will continue the fight.
Read more about our advocacy and partnership this year in our 2022 Impact Report.