The rest of the economy relies upon the childcare industry, and yet it’s undervalued, under-compensated, and disrespected. Dulari Tahbildar helps the 350+ family childcare providers in Rhode Island who are members of SEIU 1199 obtain professional development and training. She hears over and over “that family childcare providers do not want to be treated as babysitters. They want to be respected as professionals.”
The SEIU Education and Support Fund offers professional development workshops, technical assistance, community and network building, and workforce development. “Family childcare providers are this amazing group of mostly women, mostly Latina women, who are incredible lifelong learners,” says Dulari. “They have this true desire to keep learning, to keep developing their craft and keep developing their skills.
Family childcare providers offer a unique and critical option to parents. They care for small groups of children, usually up to six or nine, out of their homes. They offer more flexible hours than many centers, which some employees require. They may share the language or cultural background of the child. “Family childcare providers are really embedded in neighborhoods,” Dulari describes. “It’s so vital to have that access. When the person that is taking care of your child is located in your neighborhood, there is a sense of familiarity, there is a sense of similar cultural context, that really helps build connection in communities.”
What’s the first thing Dulari would do to build a more just local economy? “Change who’s making decisions, change how people listen to women immigrant entrepreneurs, and really hear what they say they need, and give it to them.”