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Economy

San Diego Child Care Providers Urge State To End Child Care Deserts

Johanna Hester, Vice Chair of Child Care Providers United, is shown speaking at the United Domestic Workers building in San Diego, Calif. April 22, 2021.
Nicholas McVicker
Johanna Hester, Vice Chair of Child Care Providers United, is shown speaking at the United Domestic Workers building in San Diego, Calif. April 22, 2021.

Local child care providers say more state dollars are needed to ensure that California’s most vulnerable people have access to affordable child care.

Since the pandemic, 535 providers have shuttered their doors in San Diego county, roughly 12% of the county’s providers, putting a strain on an already beleaguered child care system.

San Diego Child Care Providers Urge State To End Child Care Deserts
Listen to this story by Cristina Kim.

Johanna Puno Hester, Vice Chair of Child Care Providers United (CCPU), says everyone who needs child care should get it.

“We need structural change to ensure that every family has access to quality affordable child care,” Hester said. “We need to get rid of every child care desert here in California.”

According to the Center for American Progress, more than half of all Californians lived in a child care desert before the pandemic began. Child care deserts are neighborhoods where the demand for care far outweighs the supply.

Child Care Providers Call On State To End Child Care Deserts

Shaunte Brown is a union member and San Diego child care provider in the College Area. She says she can’t keep up with demand.

“I have parents that don’t even make it through the interview process,” Brown said. “I have to turn them away because our program is currently full.”

As more providers close their doors, low-income communities of color are bearing the brunt. Brown says that if the state doesn’t invest in better child care infrastructure, families will continue to live in poverty unless there’s a real push to end child care deserts in places like East County and South Bay.

“I believe that people won’t be able to go to work. I believe that people won’t be able to further their education and I also believe that children will suffer,” Brown said.

Earlier this week, Child Care Providers United reached an agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom for $25 million to expand child care capacity by waiving fees and helping providers reopen their businesses.

The agreement also includes $600 per child stipends for providers that care for low-income children whose tuitions are subsidized pending approval by the legislature.

Union leaders and child care providers say they are grateful for this investment, but want to see a continued commitment to building an equitable child care system.