St. Cloud Times | Kelly Martini: Child Care Union Helps Kids

Published November 25, 2011
By Kelly Martini, Family Child Care Provider, Avon

I work in one of the most misunderstood professions.

For the past 13 years, I’ve been proud to be a licensed family child care provider in Avon. Each day, I welcome six children into my home, providing a safe and nurturing space for them to learn and grow.

I’m not a baby sitter. I provide educational opportunities, structured activities and nutritious meals designed to prepare each child for a lifetime of learning. At the end of the day, we’re all exhausted from a very full and exciting time together.

I love what I do and want to continue. But each day my work becomes more difficult. As working families throughout the area struggle financially, the future of my small business is threatened. When parents lose their jobs, they are unable to continue paying for the care I provide.

Important programs that help family child care providers stay in business are often the first to get cut. Elected leaders in St. Paul are often willing to listen to the voice of one of their constituents individually, but one voice hasn’t been enough. That is why I strongly support … family child care providers joining together to form a union.

Uniting our voices together will strengthen our individual voice and help ensure that we’re providing the very best for the children we serve. … Through a union, our industry will become more professional, stable and child-focused.

The less time I spend concerned with whether critical funding will be cut or trying to access training I need on my own, the more time I can spend developing curriculum and engaging activities. …

I’m not alone. This is the reality for my colleagues throughout Minnesota. We provide a high-quality and affordable alternative to more expensive child care centers. But each day more and more of us are forced to close our doors. During this economic crisis, we need to be supporting working families, not increasing their burden.

I understand that not everyone agrees with my desire to join with other providers to form a union. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The executive order signed by Gov. Mark Dayton doesn’t force anyone to join. He has called for an election. Providers who receive state subsidies will vote. Dues, membership and other issues could all be decided through votes. …

I will continue to run my business as I always have. Again, this is about the children. … I strongly encourage my colleagues to vote yes and encourage all Minnesotans to add their voices for quality early education.

This is the opinion of Kelly Martini of Avon.

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