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New data shows child care providers continue to struggle

Miren Algorri plays with a girl at her home-based childcare center in this undated photo.
Courtesy of Miren Algorri
Miren Algorri plays with a girl at her home-based child care center in this undated photo.

New data from the state shows despite recent investments in the child care industry, many providers are getting by without a salary or benefits.

Why it matters

The child care workforce is led by mostly women of color, and the data gives stark evidence about what providers are experiencing across San Diego County and the state, said Courtney Baltiyskyy, the director of advocacy for the San Diego YMCA.

"This is a workforce that has really been developed, unfortunately, on the backs of women and women of color," she said. "And when we think about succession planning for this workforce, it's just not happening."


By the numbers

Data showing the experience of California’s child care workers paints a grim picture:

  • Almost 75% of providers don't pay themselves a salary. That's often because they need to maintain staff in their programs.
  • For those who do pay themselves, the average salary is less than $30,000 a year.
  • The majority of providers don't have health care benefits, and very few have retirement plans.

Looking ahead

The state budget deficit fueled concerns that child care funding could be cut this year.

Baltiyskyy said that didn't happen, but that doesn't change the overall crisis. Families struggle with accessing child care and providers wages are very low

"We have to start getting more funding into the system to close that gap between what parents can pay and subsidy currently pays, and then what the cost of true quality care really looks like," she said. "Because currently that gap is filled by the low compensation for our early educators."

Last year, the Child Care Providers Union, which represents more than 40,000 providers in California, won a $2.1 billion deal with the state. It included the largest pay raise to date and the first retirement fund for unionized child care workers.


But the rollout of that deal has been slow and providers are struggling to keep up with the cost of living while providing an essential service for the children of working parents.

The child care industry has long been in crisis, and COVID-19 only made things worse. Now affordable, quality care is even more challenging to find, and staff are not paid enough to stay in the field. This series spotlights people each struggling with their own childcare issues, and the providers struggling to get by.