House oks Magna Carta of Day Care Workers

The House committee on the welfare of children chaired by Rep. Divina Grace Yu (1st District, Zamboanga del Sur) recently approved a substitute bill which seeks to establish a Magna Carta of Day Care Workers.

The unnumbered bill, which aims to improve the social and and economic well-being of day care workers, substituted House Bill Nos. 440, 748, 848, 953, 982, 1345, 1971, 2550, 3407, 3428, 3530, 3826, 3968, 4552 and 4738 authored, respectively, by Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo, Reps. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Linabelle Ruth Villarica, Rosenda Ann Ocampo, Lawrence Fortun, Romeo Acop, Estrellita Suansing and Horacio Suansing, Jr., Yedda Marie Romualdez, Sol Aragones, Julieta Cortuna, Peter Unabia, Strike Revilla, Bernadette Herrera-Dy, Maximo Rodriguez Jr., and Arlene Brosas.

The bill defines day care workers as persons primarily engaged in the provision of early child development services and programs, such as care, social development, education, protection, and other needs of children aged four years old and below in all government-sponsored day care centers.

It provides for the creation of at least one Day Care Worker I and one Day Care Worker II plantilla positions in all day care centers nationwide.

A day care worker who possesses the following qualifications shall be hired to the position of Day Care Worker I and entitled to Salary Grade Six: of legal age; must have completed at least two years of college education; must be certified by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) or DSWD-deputized entities to have complied with existing requisites and trainings in early childhood care and development; must not have been convicted by final judgment of any crime; and must not have a pending case in relation to Republic Act No. 7610, otherwise known as Special Protection on Children Against Child Abuse.

A day care worker who possesses the same qualifications as that of Day Care I, with at least five years of working experience as such, and has completed more than 12 hours of relevant training, shall be hired as Day Care Worker II and entitled to Salary Grade Eight.

Moreover, day care workers shall also receive additional compensation, whenever applicable, such as overtime pay, hazard allowance and subsistence allowance.

Other benefits to be granted to day care workers include: whenever possible, married couples who are both day care workers shall be assigned in the same municipality or city; right to self-organization; free legal services; free medical examination and treatment; and preferential access to livelihood, loans, grants and skills enhancement.

All day care workers shall automatically become members of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), PAG-IBIG, and PHILHEALH, the bill provides..

The bill also seeks the creation of a Special Personnel Selection Board (SPSB) for day care worker positions to screen candidates and create a pool of 10 qualified applicants for possible appointment to the positions.

The SPSB shall be composed of the Local Social Welfare and Development Officer as chairperson, Punong Barangay, Local Health Officer, Human Resource Management Officer, and local government unit (LGU) first level employees' representative as members.

The bill mandates the DSWD, in coordination with Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), to provide for a system of continuing education and skills training and knowledge enhancement programs for day care workers.

Likewise, it encourages NGOs or private volunteer organizations to assist or support the government in the implementation of programs and projects for day care workers. As such, day care centers shall be allowed to accept any assistance or support from NGOs.

The amount necessary to cover the salaries and benefits of day care workers shall be charged from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the Special Education Fund of LGUs concerned.

Quimbo said despite the critical role they play in providing early education and social development services to children, day care workers are afforded little protection under existing laws.

The economic and well-being, and professional development of day care workers are also afforded little to nil attention, Quimbo said.

Villarica said as caretakers of children in the absence of their parents who work during the day or even beyond the call of duty, day care center workers deserve only the best treatment by the State.

In their hands are the future leaders and foremost personalities in Philippine politics, business, science and technology, culture and the arts, said Villarica.

Acop said the current plight of day care workers indicates conditions of abject poverty and long years of government neglect.

They do not enjoy security of tenure and are deprived of benefits enjoyed by other government employees as mandated by law, Acop said.

Suansing said her bill is a re-file measure of HB 6410 which was approved on third and final reading on May 23, 2016 during the 16th Congress. It seeks to improve the general welfare of the unsung heroes, the day care workers, by providing them the compensation and benefits they earnestly warrant according to her.

Inspite of the dedication these day care workers have shown, they only receive a measly allowance of P500 as provided for in Republic Act 6972, which is not enough to compensate for their hardships. These noble heroes also do not have overtime pay, security of tenure, leave and other benefits that they truly deserve, said Suansing.

Ocampo said the quality of the citizens of any country depends largely on the kind of care and attention they receive during childhood. As such, day care workers should be given compensation commensurate to their expertise and workload, and opportunities for self-development should also be given to them.

We must not leave the future of our children to chance. Let us secure their bright future by safeguarding the economic and social development of our day care center workers, said Ocampo.

Brosas said for most day care workers, caring for the children of the poor has become a vocation. But she said, the government must not abuse the day care workers' willingness to work as volunteers. It is not by choice, but by necessity, and at times, desperation that they are forced to accept the work in exchange for an amount not even enough for their subsistence, according to Brosas.

By guaranteeing the rights of day care workers to security of tenure, humane working conditions and a living wage, the State would be contributing to the improvement of the quality of early childhood care and education., thereby upholding its mandate to defend and protect children's rights as well as guaranteeing the rights of all of its workers, said Brosas.

Other authors of the bill are Reps. Emmi De Jesus (Party-list, GABRIELA), Carlos Isagani Zarate (Party-list, BAYAN MUNA), Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS), France Castro (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS), Ariel Casilao (Party-list, ANAKPAWIS), Sarah Jane Elago (Party-list, KABATAAN), Yu, Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), Edgar Sarmiento (1st District, Samar), Alexandria Gonzales (Lone District, Mandaluyong City), John Marvin Nieto (3rd District, Manila), Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas), Cristina Roa-Puno (1 st District, Antipolo City), Ma. Lourdes Aggabao (4th District, Isabela), Anna Marie Villara-Suarez (Party-list, LONA), Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte), Aniceto Bertiz III (Party-list, ACTS-OFW), Karlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City) and members of the committee on appropriations present during the hearing.

Source: House of Representatives