Report: CA Families Struggle to Find Affordable Child Care

State Ranks 35th for Child Well-Being
A new report found 15 percent of California children live in a family where someone quit, changed or refused a job due to problems with child care. Photo Credit: Kamaji Ogino / Pexels

Suzanne Potter
California News Service

California families are paying way too much for child care, according to the 2023 Kids Count Data Book out this week from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The new report showed single mothers in California pay 31% of the average median income for family-based child care, and couples pay 10%, the third-highest rates in the country.

Kelly Hardy, senior managing director of health and research at the nonprofit Children Now, said hundreds of thousands of California families need subsidized child care, but cannot find it. She hopes the new state budget, being finalized this week, will address the issue.

“What we’re really looking for is a 25% rate increase for all subsidized child care, so that those providers can earn a living wage,” Hardy explained. “And that the 20,000 child care spaces that are scheduled to be released in 2023-24, be released today.”

The research ranked the Golden State 35th for children’s overall well-being and 43rd for economic well-being, issues linked to the high cost of housing. The report also found nationwide, educational indicators worsened over the past few years, with fewer 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool, and drops in the percentage of fourth graders proficient in reading and eighth graders working at grade level in math.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said Congress was on the right track when it expanded the Child Tax Credit during the pandemic, and started sending families extra checks.

“It was the largest one-time reduction in child poverty in a single year that we’ve seen,” Boissiere pointed out. “And making permanent the expansion of the Child Tax Credit could have a significant impact on the number of children and families who are living in poverty.”

There is some good news: Teen births have continued to fall, and California has one of the highest rates of health insurance for kids in the country.

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