Thousands of home child care providers in New Jersey are clamoring for a new contract with the state.

Flickr User Ed Youdon

"We're losing far too many of them because they just can't survive on the pay that they receive. Our folks are special in that they provide services in the communities where working families live, and obviously when there's less and less of that, you have less people who are able to go to work," said the President of CWA Local 1037, Ken McNamara, during a rally outside the Department of Human Services headquarters in Trenton.

He pointed out child care providers have not gotten a raise in five years, and have been without a new contract for several months.

"This issue is not just about the child care providers, or even simply the important work that they do and the children they care for," he said. "This is about all working families in the State of New Jersey, and having the services available for them."

"The reality right now is that we've lost providers, many providers over the past year, and many families all across New Jersey are feeling the impact of having less child care services available for them."

Shawanda Velez, a child care worker, agrees.

"Child care workers aren't just babysitters, they teach the kids, attend workshops and abide by state regulations and codes," she says. "Some of us will have to look for other work opportunities, which will mean even fewer options for working parents - it's going to be a struggle."

"We want DHS to know that we have a voice, we are here for our community. We need a fair contract - we haven't had a raise for 5 years."

A spokeswoman for DHS declined to comment on the situation, but she did confirm the Department is negotiating with the union.