Why is This Important?
The quality of child care and early childhood education influences emotional and cognitive development, including language learning, problem solving, self control, social skills, and school readiness. San Mateo County’s high cost of living makes the availability of affordable and quality child care extremely important as many families have two working parents. Many of the county’s middle- and low-income families do not qualify for state or federal child care subsidies as they earn too much based on guidelines that do not account for regional differences in cost of living.
What is a Sustainable State?
In a sustainable state, there are a variety of child care options available to parents that supply enough diversity, flexibility, and affordability to meet most parental needs.
How Are We Doing?
Supply and Demand
· In 2010, approximately 92,000 San Mateo County children (ages 0-13) lived in households where either both parents worked or, in the case of single-parent households, the children lived with a working parent. This is an increase of more than 6,000 children from 2009, and is due primarily to the increased labor force participation rate among parents. This may be driven, in part, by the adverse economic climate requiring more parents to return to work.
· During that same period, there were 23,776 licensed child care spaces in the county, providing room for about 26 percent of the total population of children potentially needing care. This percentage has remained largely unchanged since 2006.
· It is unknown to what extent the gap in licensed care is met by unlicensed or informal child care arrangements (such as those with extended family members or siblings).
· The gap in child care spaces varies by age. The largest gap is for school age children, with licensed spaces for only 10 percent of those needing care. The gap is smallest among preschool age children, with spaces available for an estimated 83 percent of those needing care.
· Between 2004 and 2010, most child care costs have increased in inflation adjusted dollars. The largest increase was seen in care for preschoolers in child care centers which increased approximately 19 percent since 2003 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The estimated cost per hour of school age family child care in 2010 was $8.50, a 27 percent increase from 2003 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
· In December 2010, there were 4,322 children on the county’s Centralized Eligibility List, approximately the same number as one year before. The Centralized Eligibility List is a countywide list of children from low-income families who are eligible and waiting for subsidized care. The number of children on the Eligibility List has increased substantially since 2001, when approximately 2,000 children were on the list from year to year.·