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New KPBS Digital Series on Child Care Asks ‘Where’s My Village’

The child care industry has long been in crisis. Affordable, quality care is challenging to find and staff are not paid enough to stay in the field. KPBS Reporter Tania Thorne knows this crisis firsthand. With three young kids and a full-time job, she's dealing the best she can. In “Where’s My Village,” a new digital series by KPBS, Thorne meets parents facinging unique child care issues and providers struggling to get by. The series premieres Wednesday, March 20 at and on YouTube.

“There is a saying ‘it takes a village,’ but in exploring the topic with the subjects — and my own personal experience — me and the production team half-seriously joke ‘there is no village…best of luck to you.’ That’s how it feels,” says series creator and host Thorne. “You are left to fend for yourself in finding child care information, resources and assistance. I want to answer where a village can be found.”

“Where’s My Village?” explores the child care crisis and its effect on families both here in San Diego and on a national level. Each of its six episodes focus on a different aspect of the crisis, including infant care, accessing subsidies, challenges specific to child care providers, the reality of transitional kindergarten, and the unique needs of families with developmentally disabled children. The series also looks at possible solutions. Thorne traveled to Portland, Oregon to hear about their child care funding ballot measure and looks at the plans for a similar measure in San Diego. Each episode also includes links to resources.

“I hope viewers get the message that having quality child care available to families is an issue that impacts all, even if you do not have children in the home,” Thorne says.

A trailer can be viewed here.

Episode Descriptions:

Series Trailer: Tania’s Own Story

Tania Thorne has three kids under 5 years old and is living the child care crisis in real time. When her children were born, she didn’t know how to look for child care. And she didn’t know she was eligible for some financial support to help pay her mother, who cares for her children. She tells her own story and gives an overall look at the child care crisis.

The Search for Infant Care

No care is harder to find than child care for an infant. Providers are limited in how many babies they can take, and child care centers actually lose money on infants because of the staff required to care for them. In this episode, we meet new parents searching desperately for infant care.

On the Edge of Subsidies

For families who are unemployed, underemployed, or have very low income, there is the possibility of getting child care subsidies. But the income limit is very low, meaning many families make too much money for subsidies, but not enough to actually afford care. In this episode, we meet a family that is trying to walk the child care balance beam.

Child Care Providers’ Quest to Expand

Child care providers have long waiting lists of families looking for care, but they’re limited in how many kids they can take. The cap on home care providers is 12 children, as long as they meet certain requirements. But if a provider wants to move to a bigger space with multiple classrooms, the search for an affordable and adequate building is near impossible. In this episode, we meet a provider looking to expand but unable to find space she can afford.

Transitional Kindergarten

In 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new funding so elementary schools could expand their Transitional Kindergarten programs, allowing all 4-year-olds to enter school a year before Kindergarten. The program gets more kids into schools and provides some relief to parents, but its rollout has been rocky and included unintended consequences. In this episode, we meet a family with a kid in transitional kindergarten.

Special Education

As if finding child care wasn’t hard enough, for families with children who require additional help—including speech therapy, occupational therapy, or other special education—care means a patchwork of resources and appointments. Sometimes, caregivers drive their children to child care centers, then pick them up during the day for appointments, then drive them back to care. In this episode, we meet a mother who’s caring for her son with Down Syndrome.

Is There Hope?

Federal funding through Build Back Better was supposed to go a long way toward solving the child care crisis. But the bill died, and now emergency federal child care funding has also expired. It feels like there’s no hope for the industry, but some cities and counties are taking matters into their own hands, passing local ballot measures to boost child care funding. In this episode, we visit Portland, Oregon, which successfully passed a measure funding child care for all kids ages 3 and up. We also visit a San Diego family who’s rearranged their schedules to make it work.

“Where’s My Village” is produced by the KPBS Digital Fellowship, a new grant-funded program at the public media station. The Digital Fellowship provides an opportunity for KPBS journalists to spend three to four months developing one single story of significance. During the process, each participant will engage in a listening tour to explore community-driven story ideas and engage personally with the community. Participants will be trained on and learn the most up-to-date best practices in areas such as social media, YouTube, and podcasting. The first project was “Freeway Exit,” a podcast that tells the forgotten history of San Diego’s urban freeway network, and how the building of that network divided communities and created inequities that still exist today. Future projects will cover the topics of youth sports-related injuries and an inside look at Kata Pierce Morgan, a stripper who waged a civil rights battle from the marginalized world of adult entertainment.

Press contact:
Heather Milne Barger