Newsletter: Time to grow up

News Date

Kids – they’re a lot of responsibility (Yes, as the parent of a four-year-old, I recognize this is the understatement of the century). 

But kids aren’t just a responsibility for parents like me. We’re all – in ways big and small – responsible for making sure the next generation is equipped to lead our communities… our economy… our nation… our whole planet.  

That’s why I’m calling on my colleagues to approve on Tuesday a new proposal to make it easier and more affordable to get child care that I’m championing with Chairwoman Nora Vargas.

We need this local action. New data shows that California’s childcare industry continues to crater. According to KPBS:

  • “Almost 75% of providers don't pay themselves a salary. That's often because they need to maintain staff in their programs.

  • “For those who do pay themselves, the average salary is less than $30,000 a year.

  • The majority of providers don't have health care benefits, and very few have retirement plans.”

I’m proposing that the County Board of Supervisors approve a proposal to:

  • Support childcare workers: Provide childcare start-up costs to new childcare providers locally.

  • Make it easier to find childcare: Create a database of childcare providers or enhance existing databases through partner organizations to track new providers locally, identifying providers leaving the space, and coordinate communications needs.

  • Reduce the shortage of childcare workers: Help with peer-based needs such as mentorship and workforce opportunities.

We Should All Care About Childcare

It’s time our childcare policy grows up – and recognizes that the quality, availability and affordability of child care affects all of us. 

Childcare options are often unaffordable, scarce, and inconvenient, leaving many families to struggle finding a reliable provider. This forces many working parents to leave their job, not enter the workforce, or struggle to balance their career and raising their children. Roughly 70 percent of children under the age twelve live in a household where one or both parents are working in San Diego. 

These challenges are especially pertinent for single-parent families, lower income households, and women — in particular women of color.

Childcare is not just a family issue; it’s not just a women’s issue; it’s an economic issue. It’s essential that significant and meaningful investments are made within our childcare system so that every family in San Diego has access to quality child care providers, and children’s developmental needs are supported.

Our Child Care Infrastructure is Growing Up

All this work is part of a long-term plan. One of the first actions I took as Supervisor, back in June 2021, was to vote to dedicate $10 million dollars to childcare and early childhood education workforce investments like tuition, professional development, job training, continuing education, and helping small childcare providers stay afloat – all of which with outcome measures to monitor success.

But we needed to go further, and get a strategy around this. In August of 2023, the Board and I voted to adopt the Child Care Blueprint as a way to expand the childcare workforce, build more capacity at existing facilities, and increase access to quality care.

A collaborative group of local organizations, workforce representatives helped to develop the Blueprint, with the intention of creating meaningful changes to our childcare system by bolstering the workforce and benefits, infrastructure, and access to providers. 

The Blueprint is helping us achieve a region where:

  • The childcare workforce is well-trained, supported, valued as a profession, and paid competitive wages; 

  • Safe and quality facilities are developed and renovated to expand childcare programs, particularly in geographic areas where childcare is scarce, or family demand outpaces supply; 

  • All families have access to childcare that meets their needs and preferences and supports their children;s learning, physical and mental health, and social-emotional development.

Then we started putting the Blueprint into action. Last September I joined Chairwoman Vargas to create two childcare pilot programs:

One to add licensing and infrastructure capacity for new and existing childcare providers across the region.

And one to provide emergency family “flex” care days for County workers who may need flexibility to care for their children or older family members in unforeseen circumstances.

Come One, Come All to Carlsbad

One last thing: Carlsbad residents! Join me on Monday, January 29 for a meeting and greet! RSVP today here.