Sylvia Carrasco, who grew up on the Central Coast and now lives in Los Banos, comes from a family that is steeped in Early Childhood Education. Her mother and her sisters are all child care providers. And Sylvia’s mother, like Sylvia herself, started out as a preschool teacher before moving to home-based care. For Sylvia, being a family child care provider is all about making a difference in her community.
“I always knew I wanted to work with women and children,” Sylvia says. “It’s a very rewarding job.”
Now Sylvia runs a 24-hour child care with nine total children in her care. She has kids being dropped off at one a.m and three a.m. and some that stay for 14 hours. All of the kids she cares for are on subsidy, which means dealing with the inconsistency and bureaucracy of the subsidy programs. Like many family child care providers, Sylvia has had problems getting paid on time, getting paid accurately, and being kept up-to-date on the eligibility status of children in her care.
But things have changed since she joined her union, UDW.
“They didn’t want to pay,” Sylvia says. “They weren’t transparent until they had to be. It’s getting better. With the union it’s starting to shape up.”
Joining her union helped Sylvia meet other providers. She says she used to keep to herself, but now she has a network of people who know how she feels. And the union has made it easier for Sylvia, who is learning organizing and leadership skills from the union, to help other providers.
“You are going to be heard,” she says of the power of membership. “Together, we are one voice.”
Sylvia has raised two children of her own who are now 21 and 23. But she’s also had a hand in raising scores of other children over the years; many from infancy to thirteen years old. She knows she made a positive impact in their lives and helped them get a good start in life. And sometimes she gets the ultimate show of appreciation: kids who she cared for, now grown, bringing their own children to Sylvia’s child care.
“I get so happy when they come back and want me to watch their kids,” she says. “I’m passionate about my job. I take it seriously.”