Childcare out of reach for most California working parents
PALO ALTO, California–The mismatch between childcare needs and availability in California is growing, with only 25 percent of kids up to 12 years old with working parents getting access to licensed childcare.
The 2014 data was released by a partnership between Kidsdata and the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network–the 2015 California Child Care Portfolio.
In some counties, availability was as low as 13 percent. 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 childcare 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 percent of licensed childcare centers offered childcare during non-traditional hours, including evening, weekend, overnight, flexible/rotating, or drop-in care. While family childcare homes are more likely to provide care during non-traditional hours, they represent only about a third of the licensed childcare 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 childcare is a major challenge for many families, and access differs based on geography, race and income. In California, infant childcare costs made up an estimated 14 percent of the median annual income for married couples and 44 percent for single mothers in 2013.
In 2014, the average annual cost of licensed infant care was more than $13,000 in childcare centers and nearly $8,500 in family childcare homes. Care for preschool-age children was less expensive: more than $9,000 in child care centers and almost $8,000 in family childcare homes.
To provide quality, affordable childcare to all eligible children in the state, experts recommend increasing state funding for childcare 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.
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