Poll: Quality Child Care Expensive, Hard to Find in CA

Children’s Advocates Emphasize Quality over Quantity in Child Care, Preschool
This fall, the State of California is set to release a master plan to address the lack of affordable, quality child care in the state. Photo Credit: Miloslav Ofúkaný / Pixabay

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The child-care crunch in California is real, and advocates for families are pressing the state to make quality a priority, in addition to quantity.

This fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to release a long-awaited master plan for quality early care and education.

Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, said a poll commissioned by the nonprofit advocacy group confirms parents are having hard time finding and paying for adequate care.

“There was this understanding that kids really needed to have access to not just any child care and preschool, but high quality,” Lempert said. “And that it’s very expensive; that most parents are having to cobble together different sources.”

There are huge waiting lists for state-subsidized child care. Statistics show fewer than 15% of income-eligible families actually find a slot. And fewer than half of all three-year-olds in the state have access to a quality preschool.

Lempert said the master plan needs to provide a road map to achieve equity, because families of color are particularly hard hit by the lack of affordable child care.

“Some kids are getting that kind of high-quality care and early education,” Lempert said. “Most kids aren’t. That plan really needs to address not just the availability, but also the quality of child care and preschool.”

The poll found parents are most concerned with finding a child-care option that has a low child-to-adult ratio and skilled caregivers who are trained to foster children’s emotional well-being.