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UFT child care providers ratify 'historic' $43M contract

Susan Campbell, a provider in Brooklyn, casts her vote on the new contract.Jonathan FickiesSusan Campbell, a provider in Brooklyn, casts her vote on the new contract.

New York City’s family child care providers have overwhelmingly ratified a $43 million agreement with the state Office of Children and Family Services that will feature valuable health benefits as well as grant money to enhance their skills and better equip their programs.

“It’s an historic contract that will greatly improve the lives of our members and of the children we serve,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The contract will improve both providers’ working and financial conditions and give them access to the training and tools they need to provide quality care for the children in their programs.”

Highlights of the contract include $20 million from the state to pay for dental and vision insurance for providers; $15 million for professional development; and $8.5 million for quality grants, which providers can use to select books, educational materials and toys for their programs.

The two sides also agreed to jointly review the market rate survey by which providers’ pay is set every two years, and the state said it would finally force the city to pay eligible informal providers the “enhanced” market rate that could allow them to earn as much as $936 more per year.

The contract also grants providers a whole host of new rights. For example, providers who work for a child care network must now be paid the market rate that all other providers receive, and networks can no longer remove children from providers’ care as a form of punishment.

Under the new agreement, all city and state entities that deal with child care providers must now meet regularly with union representatives and all new child care regulations must be discussed with the union before they are issued.

The ratification vote began on Dec. 8 at the UFT’s Manhattan headquarters. Providers could also vote at five other meetings held in UFT borough offices across the city. The vote was counted on Dec. 18.

Stephanie Brade, the chapter vice chair and a member of the negotiating team, emphasized the opportunities for professional development afforded providers under the agreement.

“The contract, if approved, will provide millions of dollars for the union to continue to offer providers high-quality training that will allow us to improve our skills and the services we provide to the children in our programs,” Brade said. “It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.”

UFT Vice President Anne Goldman, who oversees the Providers Chapter and led the contract negotiations with the state, said that the contract victory should underscore to the providers the value of union membership.

“Our hope is that many providers who may not been involved with the union in the past learned about the contract and the importance of having a union to fight for them as a result of this ratification process,” she said.

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