Turchin: Children and families would benefit from child-care provider union

Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Tammy Turchin, owner and director of Adventures of Young Minds, a child-care center in Colchester.

I am the owner and director for Adventures of Young Minds in Colchester and have worked as a child-care provider for 25 years. Every day, my colleagues and I provide early education services to support children and families. Parents put a lot of trust in us and give us the responsibility to care for, and educate, their children. We set the foundation for a lifetime of learning and social interactions. We help to set the foundation for kindergarten and beyond.

Our primary concern is, and has always been, the children and families we serve.

I support the right to form a union. It is unfortunate that our efforts have been misconstrued and misrepresented. I would like to set the record straight:

• Our primary concern is, and has always been, the children and families we serve.

• Forming a union will not in any way detract from the services we provide; on the contrary, it will improve our services.

• Child-care providers are the experts in this field; joining together to express our collective voices is the best way to share our knowledge about early education.

• There are no more qualified people than child-care providers to be at the table with the state when early education issues are being decided and implemented.

• We have a 40 percent turnover rate in our profession; we must develop policies to lower that number so that we can attract and retain a qualified and stable workforce.

Our efforts to organize over the past few years have already built committees of early educators in every county across Vermont. We have held over 200 informational meetings in over 73 towns and over 30 trainings for professional development across the state. All of this has served to strengthen our industry.

Children and families need stability in the early education industry. A union will give us the tools to speak with one voice. It will allow us to grow, flourish and deliver even more to Vermont families. We will be able to come together to further support each other, train each other, and build confidence in our own futures – all with the goal of improving the quality of child care in Vermont.

Forming a union is just common sense, and common sense makes the best kind of policy.

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13 Comments on "Turchin: Children and families would benefit from child-care provider union"

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Thomas Feerick
4 years 3 days ago
Hi, I think it is crazy to involve a union with the childcare industry. The cost of a union and the added benifits of the employees would result in a situation where it will become un-affortable for parents to go to work. That would create a major negative impact on the local economy. Do not respond that it will not increase costs. The word union is defined as a cost to everyone involved even the employees. All this will have to passed down to the customers. There are plenty of daycare provider groups out there that have been voiceing their… Read more »
Ann Raynolds
4 years 3 days ago
Having been an Early Essential Educator and director of a large 2-county day care/Head Start/Special Education program for six years, I can attest to the need for a stable system, one where early educators are paid living wages with benefits. While family day care is marvelous — when it is — for very young children under three, a quality, well-staffed day care center is essential for many working parents. If providers today believe they need a union to get this messsge out, and clearly in the 30 years since I had this job the message has NOT been heard at… Read more »
Jamal Kheiry
4 years 3 days ago
Ms. Turchin, In past columns on this issue, the discussion has centered around the fact that unionization would be *required* of childcare providers, which is why the effort involves the legislature. However, your column appears to characterize it as a purely voluntary activity, by calling it the “right” to form a union. Certainly, if that’s all it is, then that’s great; nobody is forced to exercise a “right.” But if forming a union would essentially require everyone to join it in order to ply their trade, then coercion is at the heart of the unionization effort, and your column has… Read more »
Cynthia Browning
4 years 3 days ago
The writer of this column does not make clear what I believe to be the case: that this “union” is not about unionizing all the workers a large child care centers, it is about a union of BUSINESS OWNERS to bargain with the state, when they are VENDORS who provide services to private families that are subsidized and regulated by the state. This makes no sense. If I am wrong about this please correct me, but when the child care unionization bill came to the House floor in 2011, this was my understanding of it. It is my impression that… Read more »
Patrick Cashman
4 years 3 days ago

Ms. Browning,
A collusion of business owners to coordinate pricing is not a union, it is actually a cartel.

Amie Choiniere
4 years 3 days ago
Child Care providers are independent and set their own rates. We do not need a union to do this. As Rep. Browning stated we are vendors to the state and have private contracts with our families. We own our own businesses and set our own tuition rates. There are just as many quality in home programs as there are quality center’s. There are also as many bad in both groups. Having a union holds no merit on it. More licensors, continuing education requirements, mentoring programs, grants and support services are what is needed. Money paid for tuition holds no bearing… Read more »
Deb Thayer
4 years 3 days ago
I don’t believe that a union will allow all childcare providers to speak with one voice nor will it allow the industry to have livable wages with benefits. If indeed the supporters of this union believe that childcare providers should be able to bargain with the state for increases in subsidys than a union is the wrong way to go! I am a small business owner, I serve 6 families in my home daycare. I have an assistant, and together we care for 8 children,4 part time, and 4 fulltime. I do not need a union to speak for me… Read more »
Kay Curtis
4 years 3 days ago
I have been working in this profession for 12 years. During this time I have watched women who are great with children with excellent programs make a choice to get out of the profession. Why I ask myself are we loosing these great teachers? As Early Educators we know when we choose this work that hours will be long, and the work hard. We know we will be meeting the needs of Vermont families in crisis. And we will be exposed to colds and flu. We know that early educators make and average of $9.97 per hour. NONE of this… Read more »
4 years 3 days ago
I entirely agree with Tammy Turchin, and am also the Director of a small (non-profit) Child Care & Early Education center in Brattleboro. No one is asking for higher wages! Unionizing is a vehicle for strengthening our voice as a profession, and for requiring that voice to be heard. Without a union, we are considered little more than a suggestion box. And for the record, many providers participate in several groups and organizations related to the field, but none are a unified voice for providers. We are all in this for the children- Centers and Home Providers alike. There is… Read more »
Emily Pryer
4 years 2 days ago
For the last seven years, I have been a registered home provider in Bradford, VT. In the fall of 2009, when we began an incredible journey to building our union, we had— NO VOICE. We were treated as a suggestion box, not as partners in the decision making process. We were not recognized as EARLY EDUCATORS, but as “babysitters.” Home providers such as myself, often felt isolated and disconnected from our colleagues— our union has helped and continues to help decrease our sense of isolation. The early education profession has become strong because of the many opportunities to network through… Read more »
Melanie Zinn
4 years 2 days ago
Everyone has an opinion; made clear by those comments posted previous to mine. I believe making opinions heard and working collaboratively with, not only other early educators (not just limited to providers), and families, but also with the State, is what the idea of this union is all about. I have taught in the public school system (with unions in place) for the past 7 years. More recently I have opened my own early learning program in my home. If early education is as important as we know it to be, then why shouldn’t early educators form a union similar… Read more »
Joyce Wheeler
4 years 1 day ago
For the last 44 years, I have been a licensed home childcare provider in East Montpelier. The families I serve have children ages 0-5. In the 44 years I have been in business, my profession has gone through several changes mandated by the state, with little to no input from the providers, that has affected me directly. For example, several years ago, the State changed the regulations to only allow 2 children under 2 years old. This made a huge impact on families. Now, we see a lack of available infant and toddler care for working families. These changes were… Read more »
Heather Hassett
3 years 11 months ago
I have been an early educator for over 27 years. I support the right to form a union. I have worked in small and large centers and have been associated with both public school and Head-Start initiatives. I have had my own Registered Home for the last 16 years serving both typical and special needs children and families. In all those years, I have never once met an early educator who was “getting rich” from doing childcare. I have, however seen many providers struggle to pay the most basic bills, such as electric and liability insurance, on a weekly basis… Read more »
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