The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to unanimously accept $1 million in federal funds obtained by Rep. Sara Jacobs through the Small Business Administration’s annual funding bill.
County officials say child care providers who qualify may use funds to help pay for capital improvements and infrastructure.
According to Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher, the money “will lead to more affordable child care availability for parents looking for more options. The vote came one day after at least 200 day-care centers in 27 states closed as a part of the National Day Without Child Care, involving workers going on a strike, Fletcher’s office acknowledged in a statement.
According to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, there are 117,000 fewer child care jobs were available in the U.S. than in February 2020. The report found that the median wage for child care workers is just $13.22 an hour.
Organizers of the strike called for better wages, racial justice, and affordable child care. Fulltime child care for an infant and toddlers can cost an average of $16,000 to $20,000 per year, according to information on the board agenda.
Those high costs “force many working families to choose between children's care and healthy and nutritious food, which is not conducive to long-term success and healthy outcomes,'' the county stated.
The San Diego Foundation (SDF) recently released two reports that demonstrated the continued challenges of working parents in their search for affordable childcare. In the first report, “San Diego County Childcare Landscape: An Analysis of the Supply and Demand”, conducted by the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego on behalf of the SDF; researchers found that families with two young children spend a median of 40 percent of their income on childcare.
The second report, “Workforce, Childcare & Change: Understanding the Needs of Working Parents in the San Diego Region,” compiled surveys and interviews of over 850 local parents. Researchers found that 76 percent of respondents had difficulty finding affordable childcare in their area.
Single parents often experienced negative work-related impacts during the pandemic, such as shifting their schedule to care, decreased hours, or job loss, according to researchers.
According to Jacobs, San Diego's child care system was in crisis before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know it's only gotten worse, putting undue burden on parents, kids, and our small-business care providers,'' Jacobs added. “We have to think creatively and use every lever of government to alleviate this crisis. I was proud to be able to secure this much-needed funding on behalf of San Diego families to create this child care expansion fund.''