Mar 19, 2024 - News

KPBS explores San Diego's child care crisis

A collage of young children and parents with "Where's my village" written over the images.

This KPBS series digs into the child care crisis in San Diego. Photo: Courtesy of KPBS

Finding affordable, reliable child care can seem impossible for parents in San Diego County, where the need is greater than the availability.

Why it matters: The high cost and limited availability of child care in San Diego is a heavy burden on families and the local economy, as it drives parents out of the workforce.

Driving the news: KPBS reporter Tania Thorne, a mom of three, digs into the local child care crisis and provides guidance on navigating the system in a six-part series called "Where's My Village?" that begins Wednesday.

  • The episodes focus on infant care, access to subsidies, challenges faced by child care providers, transitional kindergarten and families with developmentally disabled children.

Zoom in: San Diego County has about twice as many young children as available child care spaces; in some areas, less than one-fifth of kids have an available spot, Thorne reports.

  • Part of the problem is that in-home day cares are limited to hosting 12 children (no more than four infants) and struggle to find properties that would allow them to expand.

By the numbers: The average cost to send an infant to a San Diego County child care center is $1,620 per month, according to the YMCA.

  • That drops to $1,448 monthly for preschoolers.

Between the lines: Low-income families can find subsidized child care through programs like Head Start.

Yes, but: With a statewide income threshold, many parents make too much to qualify for that help, but not enough to afford unsubsidized child care.

  • Some advocates are also working to set a higher local rate for those stipends and expand access for families currently left out.

What's next: The final episode offers one potential solution in Portland, Oregon, where voters passed a ballot measure for free preschool paid for by a tax on high earners.

  • Thorne said a similar effort is brewing in San Diego.

Watch the episodes on YouTube.

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