A child care worker
A child care worker in California; two new reports find that finding affordable child care is an increasing difficulty for families. Photo courtesy United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME Local 3930

The San Diego Foundation released two reports Thursday to demonstrate the continued challenges local working parents face in obtaining quality, affordable child care in the region.

“Many parents are forced to make a difficult decision – stay engaged in the workforce or care for their children themselves,” said Katie Rast, a director at the San Diego Foundation. “The availability of quality, affordable child care is critical to maintaining and growing San Diego’s workforce.”

One report, “Workforce, Childcare & Change: Understanding the Needs of Working Parents in the San Diego Region,” included surveys and interviews of more than 850 local parents.

Nearly half of all respondents, who were contacted in both English and Spanish, had at least one child between the ages of 0 and 5. Among the findings:

  • 92% consider safe, reliable child care crucial to their ability to work.
  • 76% say finding affordable child care in their area is an issue.
  • 68% say that finding child care for a full working day is an issue.

Single parents also reported that they were more likely to experience negative work-related impacts during the pandemic, such as shifting their schedule to care for children and/or experiencing decreased hours or job loss.

Reflecting national data, local women also have disengaged from the workforce due to childc are-related challenges at greater rates than their male counterparts. A quarter of mothers chose not to work at some point during the pandemic due to lack of child care as compared to 9% of fathers. 

In the other report, researchers found that the annual cost of care for one infant in a licensed child care center in San Diego costs over $19,000, rising to more than $33,000 for two children.

Not only is the care expensive, it’s eating up a substantial portion of some families’ funds. Households with two young children, researchers said, spend a median of 40% of their income on child care. 

The report, “San Diego County Childcare Landscape: An Analysis of the Supply and Demand,” conducted by the Nonprofit Institute at the University of San Diego on behalf of the foundation, also surveyed 900 child care providers in the county.

More than 90% of providers said they had difficulty hiring qualified staff. Child care availability was also concentrated in specific areas of the county, with some of the wealthiest zip codes having enough spots while others offered little to no licensed care.

The data from both reports was presented as part of the San Diego Foundation’s “Workforce, Childcare & Change” virtual event held Thursday, and available for viewing via YouTube. The event includes commentary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, employers, child care providers and researchers. 

This data was collected as part of the foundation’s Early Childhood Initiative, which is dedicated to increasing access to affordable, quality early care for children in San Diego, while supporting a competitive regional workforce.