AFSCME gets $5 million to seed retirement accounts for about 1,100 child care providers


Despite two decades as a union-represented child care provider, Raquel Cinta never had retirement savings — until now. 

In February, Oregon’s Department of Early Learning and Care deposited about $4,400 into a personal retirement account she signed up for last year. 

“She says this is the first time she’s had somewhere to set money aside, after 21 years of work,” Cinta’s granddaughter, Maria Parra, told the Labor Press in a phone interview. Parra translated for Cinta, whose first language is Spanish. “She feels at peace knowing there will be some money set aside for when she does retire. She won’t have to rely on family members.” 

Cinta was one of roughly 1,100 child care providers who will receive retirement benefits thanks to an agreement negotiated by her union, Child Care Providers Together (CCPT). Also known as AFSCME Local 132, CCPT represents almost 2,300 state-registered in-home child care providers in Oregon. 

According to a 2021 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, only one in 10 child care workers have retirement benefits, like a retirement account or 401(k), compared to three in ten workers overall. Most child care providers without a retirement plan may still qualify for Social Security, but usually their monthly benefit is low because they made low wages. (Social Security benefits are based on a workers’ years worked and taxable income.)

CCPT members are technically self-employed workers but are licensed and registered through the State Department of Human Services. They work under a contract CCPT negotiates with the state to set subsidy rates and provide professional development grants. In 2021, the union negotiated an agreement with the state to dedicate $5 million of its COVID federal relief funding to some kind of retirement benefits. A joint labor-management committee selected OregonSaves to receive the money and split it evenly among accounts that belong to CPPT members. Run by Oregon State Treasury, OregonSaves provides a portable Individual Retirement Account for self-employed workers or workers who don’t have a retirement plan through an employer.

To qualify for the retirement benefit, CCPT members had to sign up for an Oregon Save account before December 2023. About 900 CCPT members received a $4,400 infusion for their accounts in February. Another 200 will get a deposit in March.

Cinta owns Raquel’s Child Care, a child care program she’s run out of her home in McMinnville for 21 years. Most days, she works an 11-hour shift watching children from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The program follows a strict schedule with play time, meals, and “music movement.” 

“People think we’re just babysitters, just to watch over kids,” Parra translated for her grandmother. “They don’t realize we have to go through a set schedule and have a licenser come and inspect it, and have to do all the paperwork, just like a school setting.” 

Cinta said her new retirement account — and the seed money that started it — makes her feel like her work is finally being appreciated. 


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