For Judith Terrell, a child care provider and Community Voices advocate, being a leader, provider, and advocate for the community is about love. It’s a quality and strength she learned from her greatest role model in life—her grandmother.
Ms. Terrell has run a child care business for over 15 years and has been an integral leader in the Crystal Stairs, Inc. Community Voices program. She has been on countless legislative visits in LA and Sacramento, and has been called upon several times to give speeches for events to talk about topics such as child care, community engagement, and generational poverty.
“I get my strength from my grandmother.” Ms. Terrell said. “She was a single mother of thirteen children and raised all her children, grandchildren, and great grand children. I can’t say enough about how she did it all with love. She had love for everyone and the community always looked up to her. There isn’t a time or place I can ever remember her saying a negative word about anything. I’ve always tried to embody that.”
During the unprecedented health and economic crisis in 2020, Ms. Terrell decided to keep her doors open to the families that needed assistance. “I’m at an age where I could have been seriously affected,” Ms. Terrell said. “but the families in my care have needs. It was and is very hard for them to be working from home with an infant or toddler. I decided to do my part and provide for my families.”
With all the challenges faced in 2020 and with COVID-19, Ms. Terrell is quick to point out that at the very least, “COVID-19 has shown us what we’ve been taking for granted. Families matter, children matter, and child care matters. Child care is now getting some of the attention it deserves. We (child care providers) were down at the bottom, but we are continuing to move forward and raise our voices to our legislators and public officials. That’s what we’ll need to continue to do to lift the early child care platform and take better care of our future and the future of the next generation.“
Many subsidized child care providers in Los Angeles had to step up to the challenge of providing care for families and essential workers with low and moderate incomes. During May 2020, the Governor proposed a revision in the budget which would cut provider payment rates by 10%. These rate cuts would have been detrimental to child care providers who are already underpaid and operating on thin margins prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms. Terrell and many other fellow Community Voices advocates joined with CAPPA Children’s Foundation for a Virtual Advocacy Day on June 4th. This event gathered child care, anti-poverty, and food program advocates in an effort to share backgrounds and proposals with legislative officers via virtual legislative briefings.
The efforts of those determined and committed community leaders like Ms. Terrell, proved to be successful as two weeks later the child care provider rate cut proposal was rejected under the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“Pay equity needed to be elevated” Ms. Terrell said. “Knowing the world is starting to understand us was a big deal for me. What upset me was at the beginning, no one thought about us. Everyone needed our services. Every other sector was being looked at, but we needed to fight. We were on the front lines each day providing support for the current generation of families and teaching the next. I’m grateful that people are beginning to see our importance to the economy and to our communities. We just need to continue to push forward, whether that’s through the unions, through advocacy work, and through stepping up and raising our voices to keep child care as an important topic of discussion on our legislative officials’ desk.”