My name is Barbara Williams and I’ve been a child care provider for 15 years.
I came to this profession after working in the aerospace industry for more than 12 years. That job provided me with a decent salary and a pension. It was a solid job. I expected to be comfortable when I retired. My dream was to travel the world and I didn’t think that was out of reach.
But then the industry downsized, I lost my job and benefits so I decided to follow in the footsteps of my mother who had her own day care business in Oklahoma. Her love for children was so important for the working parents in the neighborhood. In fact, she cared for my children when they were small and I was building planes.
Today, I worry that I will again follow in her footsteps but for all the wrong reasons.
As many childcare providers find out, this profession doesn’t often come with retirement benefits. I watched my mother struggle financially during what was supposed to be her “golden years” because of retirement insecurity.
My mom and dad lost their home. They went to live in a bedroom in my brother’s home in Arizona. Mom lost all of her things. She lost her independence. Two years ago, she lost my dad. It’s hard for her to see beyond the loss right now. She tries not to ask for things and doesn’t want to be a burden.
I’m 66. I think 65 is a good retirement age—so, I’m already a year past that, with no end in sight. This isn’t how things should be in America. A person should be able to enjoy a dignified retirement after working hard and following all the rules.
Even though I’m fortunate to have a small pension and Social Security, it’s just not enough. I have to keep working to cover all of my living expenses and help my family. I send money to my mom and help pay for my grandkids’ college. I have a mortgage. So I still work. I tell myself I’ll work another four years, it’s just until I’m 70, but to be honest, I’m not sure that’s true because I have not been able to save anything extra for retirement.
Not only do I worry about my retirement, I’m also concerned about Californians, like my children, who don’t have a pension or a good retirement plan. I know from personal experience that retirement insecurity isn’t based on the profession you choose or poor planning.
We must have affordable, secure retirement savings plans that protect our hard earned money and provide us with a much needed supplement to Social Security.
On behalf of the millions of hard working Californians who worry everyday about our ability to retire, I urge you to insure that this process creates real retirement security for families like mine.