Supporters of a bill that would allow child care providers to participate in collective bargaining with the state’s Department of Health and establish a state fund to provide grants to childcare providers stand outside the Alaska State Capitol early Friday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Supporters of a bill that would allow child care providers to participate in collective bargaining with the state’s Department of Health and establish a state fund to provide grants to childcare providers stand outside the Alaska State Capitol early Friday evening. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Child care providers rally outside Capitol in support of increased funding

Supporters say new bill would provide necessary support and resources

Around a dozen people stood outside the Alaska State Capitol early Friday evening holding signs in support of a bill that would allow child care providers to participate in collective bargaining with the state’s Department of Health and establish a state fund to provide grants to child care providers.

“It’s advocating funding that is going directly to child care providers which are flexible and we can use to all of the shortfalls we are experiencing,” said Kayla Svinicki, executive director of Little Moon Whole Child Foundation Inc., which led the rally. “We need to be able to meet the need of the kids, we need to be able to meet the needs of the workforce.”

The child care rally was one of two events held outside the Capitol on Friday. Earlier in the day, public sector employees rallied for changes that union leaders and lawmakers said could improve retention of employees who provide critical services.

Svinicki said the bill will better the well-being of the child care industry in Alaska which currently is struggling to find support and resources to provide adequate care to meet community needs.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Zack Fields, an Anchorage Democrat, and had a second hearing Friday in the House Labor and Commerce committee.

Fields attempted to pass a similar bill in the previous session, however, it died in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee. He said this time around he thinks the bill has strong support, but will likely evolve as it moves forward in the Legislature.

“It’s great to see consensus within our community all working together to address a problem that is really urgent,” Fields told the Empire after the hearing.

Destiny Starr, a staff member at Little Moon Whole Child Foundation Inc., said she came to the Capitol to express her support for the bill because she said it would provide much-needed funds to the child care industry in Alaska.

Starr said as a single mother of two, the wages offered in the industry are inadequate and are not enough to support her and her young children.

“We need more money and we need more support,” she said.

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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