County to vote on whether to allocate additional funding toward child care

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Article by Emily Alvarenga | Read full article in the San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego County supervisors will decide Tuesday how to allocate federal funding set aside for child care during the pandemic to start putting their recently released county child-care blueprint into action.

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and Chair Nora Vargas proposed a pilot program that would give county workers up to three paid days off for emergency child care as well as dedicate additional funding to licensing and infrastructure needs for child-care providers.

The blueprint unveiled this month outlines how the county plans to address some of the industry’s issues through programs that will help current providers, create a pipeline of new ones and hire and train staff to provide quality care.

“As a working mom, I experience every single day how difficult it is to find quality child care, how inaccessible it is and how absolutely fundamental it is,” Lawson-Remer said.

“It’s an economic issue that impacts all of us, and so it’s really important that we’re finally, as a county, leaning into tackling the child-care issue.”

The new proposal comes as states are expected to face a steep decline in federal child-care investment starting Sept. 30.

Although the federal relief helped keep the child-care industry afloat during the pandemic, the child-care crisis has continued to worsen, resulting in thousands of families being unable to find care that meets their needs.

Now, with the last of the federal funds expiring, an estimated 70,000 child-care programs — about one in three — could close. Some 3.2 million children could lose care nationwide, according to a study by the Century Foundation, a liberal think tank.

Already, the county estimates that 77 percent of parents struggle to find caregivers for their children, Lawson-Remer said. Many licensed providers have lengthy wait lists, and large swaths of the county are child-care deserts, with space for only a fraction of the young children who need them.

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