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San Diego child care providers say 'imagine a day without child care'

Kids play in the outdoor kitchen at Liberty Winn's childcare center in Carlsbad, May 18, 2022.
Claire Trageser
Kids play in the outdoor kitchen at Liberty Winn's childcare center in Carlsbad, May 18, 2022.

What would happen if there was no child care? It could cause an upheaval to our economy. That's the point parents and child care providers wanted to make when they declared Monday a nationwide Day Without Child Care.

“How is it going to be for a parent that needs to go to work, and all of a sudden their day care is closed? Me — as a parent — I would be terrified not knowing who I'm going to leave my child with if my day care provider is closed," said child care provider with the Child Care Providers Union in San Diego Genny Leal.

The group held a demonstration to highlight the need for affordable child care and better pay for child care staff.


"Even though we don’t get benefits like retirement … or vacation time … we've been there providing this service to help families," said experienced child care provider Rosa Estrada.

She said their income is "ridiculous."

Many facilities have gone out of business or face staffing shortages, limiting the amount of kids they can care for.

The rollout of universal transitional kindergarten also hurt enrollments.

Estrada said she thinks transitional kindergarten isn’t healthy for young kids, because teachers have to follow a curriculum and can’t offer the love and attention many centers provide.


But because transitional kindergarten is free and child care is so expensive, many parents have no choice but to send their kids.

"Child care has become far more expensive over the last few years, particularly because facilities and providers have gone out of business. Which means there's fewer spots, it's more expensive and it's harder to get off of a waitlist," said San Diego councilmember Raul Campillo.

He joined the child care workers in support of their movement.

"Somehow these workers always get left out, even though it's one of the most important services that all families need," he said. "So what does that tell you about our priorities? We're not prioritizing these workers and the families and children these workers support." 

Child care workers hope their voices can pave way for a legislation that supports affordable care and quality jobs for care workers.

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