REGION — The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously for a proposal intended to increase the number of child care providers in the county and enhance the capabilities of existing providers on Sept. 13.
The plan — detailed Monday, Sept. 11 by Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas — has been “crafted to enhance the infrastructure needs for new and existing child care providers and family child care homes and create a pilot program to implement an emergency child care flex system for county employees,” a statement from the officials said.
On Tuesday, board Chairwoman Vargas said the policy emphasizes the county’s commitment to support families and build on the American dream. “I believe that child care is a public good and we all have a role to play in this,” she added.
Lawson-Remer said the new policy won’t solve the child care crisis, but is “ a step in the right direction.”
“We are absolutely focused on working on long-term capacity in child care and its work force,” she added.
Supervisor Joel Anderson said the need for such a program is great, and when a county worker loses a day on the job because a child-care provider is unavailable, “that hurts all of us.”
During a public hearing, one supporter said better child care resources help build strong families, create jobs and allows parents to keep their jobs.
Aaron Garrett, a county protective services worker and member of the Service Employees International Union Local 221, said those in his field face many challenges, including recruitment and retention.
“Child care is the work that makes all the work possible,” he added.
The proposal had several detractors, including one resident who described it as indoctrination. He and another man said that families are ultimately the best child care providers.
During the Monday press conference, board Chairwoman Vargas described child care as “a pillar of economic development. Today’s policy is part of the county’s ongoing commitment to help families access quality child care by investing in infrastructure and supporting entrepreneurship,” said Vargas, chairwoman of the board at the news conference Monday.
“I am proud that we are walking the talk and leading by example to ensure our county workforce can take care of their children when an emergency arises.”
According to the proposal, 77% of parents in the county struggle to find child care, many providers have lengthy wait lists and whole swathes of the county do not have adequate — or any — providers.
“Passing this policy will ensure our county supports building child care capacity region wide along with staffing and training,” said Lawson-Remer, who spoke Monday about her experience as a single mother of a 4-year-old daughter. “It also will allow us to develop a pilot program to support our essential county workers with emergency flex days when they are in a pinch.
“Child care is not a child issue and it is not a women’s issue,” she said. “Child care is an economic issue.”
Also speaking at the news conference were representatives from the county’s Child Care and Development Council.
“The San Diego County Child Care Blueprint framework is crucial for addressing critical needs, overcoming challenges and supporting children, families, and the early learning and care workforce,” said Dezerie Martinez, coordinator for early education special projects at the San Diego County Office of Education, who oversees the Child Care and Development Local Planning Council.
According to Lawson-Remer’s office, the program will cost $1 million, which comes from a $2 million funding pot the county allocated for child care facility development and improvement.
In a related matter, supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to accept around $1 million per year through 2028 that will help pay for home visits by public health nurses to pregnant women and families with young children.
The federal funding is part of the California Home Visiting Program, and will be used for visits to residences in north coastal and inland regions.
According to information on the Tuesday board meeting agenda, the yearly funding will not offset costs associated with the program, which are estimated at a total of $1.02 million through fiscal year 2027-28.