Child Care in our region has been a challenge before stay at home orders and is critical more than ever.
ABC 10News recently talked with Alethea Arguilez, Executive Director, First 5 San Diego and Kim McDougal, Executive Director, Child Care Resources, YMCA San Diego County about the current needs and challenges of providing for our families and their children.
How is the Y helping with childcare for essential workers?
“We are providing enhanced child care referrals which means we are connecting them with available childcare in their community.” Explained Kim McDougal, “Additionally, the YMCA is providing them with child care vouchers, which are limited funds to help pay for the high cost of child care that families are facing.”
Accessing Enhanced Child Care Funds
On April 10, 2020 Governor Newsom released $50 million to pay for limited-term state subsidized child care vouchers for essential workers and at-risk populations.
San Diego County’s two Alternative Payment Program agencies, Child Development Associates (CDA) and YMCA Childcare Resource Service, received contracts from the California Department of Education (CDE) for $5.1 million in child care subsidy vouchers and case management/administrative costs to administer the program to parents and child care providers.
In the Alternative Payment Program, families receive subsidy vouchers to get care from the child care provider of the parents’ choice. This includes services from licensed child care centers or family child care homes, or license-exempt caregivers, such as friends or relatives who provide in-home care. Payments will be made directly to the child care provider.
Parents will register to apply on a single web site for San Diego County.
- Emergency child care services are authorized through June 30, 2020.
- The value of child care subsidy vouchers is capped.
- Funds may only be used for the specific purpose authorized by CDE.
- Families must be enrolled using the following priorities as directed by CDE.
What will childcare look like in San Diego post COVID-19?
First 5 Commission Executive Director, Alethea Arguilez said, “It may be too early to say what the future holds specific for childcare in San Diego due to COVID-19, however what we DO know is that supporting parents and childcare providers is critical to a child's early development and future well-being.”
- We presently know that 90% of family child care providers and 50% of Center based providers are open and available to serve families now.
- Restrictions in group sizes and social distancing when caring for children has its challenges.
- Teachers must remain with his/her group and no children may be comingled with other children.
How is the San Diego Emergency Child Care Taskforce helping to shape this conversation?
The Taskforce is made up of local child care providers and stakeholders such as First 5 San Diego, who realize the importance of understanding the needs of the providers and families that were essential workers.
First 5 commissions statewide are engaged in a virtual advocacy to elevate the following needs to support the child care system:
- Asking the state to allocate the necessary funds to expand access to childcare for the essential workforce;
- to provide hazard pay for childcare workers;
- fund essential supplies like diapers, wipes, formula and cleaning supplies at childcare facilities.
- Subsidized childcare funding to be maintained or increased with the influx of federal funds made available.
Additionally, First 5 CA dedicated up to $4 million towards purchasing essential supplies, and locally we are coordinating the distribution through the YMCA CRs and the San Diego for Every Child Coalition.
About First 5 San Diego
- First 5 San Diego promotes the health and well-being of young children during their most critical years of development, from the prenatal stage through five years of age.
- First 5’s goal is to help ensure every child in San Diego County enters schools ready to succeed.
- First 5 does this by providing San Diego’s youngest children with healthy development screenings, dental care, high-quality preschool and parenting workshops.
- First 5 functions as a convener by working with like-minded community partners to continue improving the overall system of care for our region’s youngest children and their families.
How is First 5 supporting families during this time?
- During this time, our work continues, and First 5 San Diego is working closely with our partners to address the challenges this pandemic is creating for our most vulnerable families.
- With schools and childcare closed, we understand it can be hard on families, but we want to provide the resources so that learning can continue at home.
- First 5 has also put together a list of at home activities on our website to help pass the time with your kids while continuing to prepare them for the future.
There is assistance and resources available and not just for essential workers. Please contact anyone of the organizations mentioned for their services or for a referral, contact 211.