Child care out of reach for an estimated 75% of children with working parents in CA
The mismatch between child care needs and availability in California is growing, according to data released today by a partnership between Kidsdata and the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network. The Network's 2015 California Child Care Portfolio shows that in 2014, licensed child care was available for only an estimated 25% of children ages 0-12 with working parents in California. In some counties, availability was as low as 13%. In addition, the total number of slots available has declined in recent years—in the last year alone, the state lost the capacity to serve 18,000 children.
On top of that, many child care providers do not fill all of their slots due to shortages of qualified staff or other issues, and providers' schedules do not always meet the needs of families. For example, in 2014, only 2% of licensed child care centers offered child care during non-traditional hours, including evening, weekend, overnight, flexible/rotating, or drop-in care. While family child care homes are more likely to provide care during non-traditional hours, they represent only about a third of the licensed child care slots in the state, and their numbers are on the decline, as well.
Research indicates that quality early care and education is related to higher levels of behavioral functioning, school readiness, academic achievement, and earnings. In such settings, children learn to relate to others and their environment while developing skills to successfully navigate social, emotional, and educational challenges.
However, finding affordable, quality child care is a major challenge for many families, and access differs based on geography, race, and income. In California, infant child care costs made up an estimated 14% of the median annual income for married couples and 44% for single mothers in 2013. In 2014, the average annual cost of licensed infant care was more than $13,000 in child care centers and nearly $8,500 in family child care homes. Care for preschool-age children was less expensive: more than $9,000 in child care centers and almost $8,000 in family child care homes.
To provide quality, affordable child care to all eligible children in the state, experts recommend increasing state funding for child care programs and tying that funding to measurable program quality. Other recommendations include providing full-day preschool for families with working parents, and properly training and supporting early child care educators and caregivers.
Early Care and Education (summary)
2015 California Child Care Portfolio, California Child Care Resource & Referral Network
California Child Care Resource & Referral Network
Community Care Licensing Division (CCLD) Facility Search, California Dept. of Social Services
Office of Child Care, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families
A Matter of Equity: Preschool in America (PDF), U.S. Dept. of Education
California Preschool Study, RAND Labor and Population
High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families, Economic Policy Institute
Putting it Together: A Guide to Financing Comprehensive Services in Child Care and Early Education, Center for Law and Social Policy
Starting Strong: Why Investing in Child Care and Development Programs Is Critical for Families and California's Economic Future (PDF), California Budget & Policy Center
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Availability of Child Care for Potential Demand