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San Diego law enforcement helping staff with child care

Balancing a career in law enforcement and having children isn't an easy task.

It's something that San Diego County Sheriff's Department Deputy Daniel Psomas knows all too well.

“The hours I work, they’re nights, weekends, holidays. ... I work overtime,” Psomas said. “So, when you’re working jails, you're working nights, days, 12-hour days ... sometimes longer.“


He and his wife, Emily, have a 17-month-old son and a baby girl on the way.

The reality of Psomas' work schedule forced the couple to decide that Emily would leave her job to be a stay-at-home mom.

San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez said many workers in law enforcement faced similar predicaments.

“When they’re working a bunch of different hours and shift work and weekends and holidays and getting called out, to have reliable good child care is really important to all of our staff and our deputies,“ Martinez said. “I was a single parent coming up in this organization, so I was lucky enough to have my parents nearby that could watch my son, but that’s not the case for everyone.“ 

The Sheriff’s Department is trying to help parents within its ranks through a partnership with Tootris, a San Diego-based company that connects parents with vetted child care providers.


Parents can search the Tootris database by location and by hours needed, including 24-hour shifts.

“The benefit of having accessibility to this application and all these child care providers is you can compare and you’ll have more opportunity to know what's available, what's out there and what the cost is,“ Martinez said. “So it really provides the user the opportunity to shop for the best provider for them.“

But the Sheriff’s Department is only paying for the Tootris membership, not the child care.

The San Diego Police Department is going a step further by constructing a day care center for the children of police officers.

This comes after a survey recently conducted by the police union showed that 21% of police officers were thinking about leaving the department because of child care issues. The survey found that 59% reported leaving or missing work because of child care problems.

San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo hopes that these initiatives will also open the doors to more women in law enforcement.

“We're seeing a lot of need from city employees like police officers, dispatchers, who also have to work through the night, and deputy sheriff's who have to take care of their kids in the evenings and nights when they're on the third shift throughout the nighttime,“ Campillo said. “So the fact that we're seeing people step up from our state legislature to our federal government to help fund that benefit just means that we're gonna continue to recruit and retain really good peace officers, which we are desperately in need of right now.“

The new center for children of police officers and staff is expected to open by the end of 2023.

“We're really just excited that employers are starting to get into this conversation and start to realize the critical, critical, support that child care plays in keeping our workforce engaged,“ said Kim McDougal, the senior vice president of social services for the YMCA of San Diego County.

She said police agencies were not alone in making investments into the child care needs of their employees.

But the child care industry is still suffering.

“There continues to be this lack of available care and a lack of the kind of care that families are looking for. That is a barrier to a really high functioning child care system,“ McDougal said.

Members of the Child Care Providers United union have been marching in Sacramento for legislation that supports better pay and benefits for child care workers.

McDougal said this could be a critical step in strengthening the child care industry and providing help that families desperately need.

Like the Psomas family. With the Sheriff’s Department's help in finding child care, Emily hopes to reenter the workforce.

“My wife has ambitions to be a nurse. One of the big things that comes with this child care is if she needs to go back to school, she’s able to do that,“ Psomas said.

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