United Way to Highlight Child Care Needs at Santa Barbara City Council Meeting

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The Santa Barbara City Council will hear United Way’s presentation on regional child care issues during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

The context below is part of the agenda:

“The need for affordable, high-quality child care for children from birth to five years old has long been a challenge for working parents across the country. Nationwide working parents are often amplified in the Santa In response to this challenge and the demonstrated economic impact, the cities of Goleta and Santa Barbara commissioned United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) to administer an assessment of child care to understand the needs of working parents and the availability, needs and cost of child care providers Working with local consultant, Maria Chesley, PhD, UWSBC leveraged its strong network of community partners, educators and child care providers to assess the needs of parents and licensed providers The City of Santa Barbara donated $17,500, in partnership with the City of e Goleta, to complete this study. The scope of work for this effort included the following: 1. Work with local leaders and experts in the field of early childhood care and education (ECE), and other sources of information /data if necessary, to show: a. The child care needs of local families of varying income levels. b. Existing capacities, programs and strategies of our communities to provide childcare services and identify gaps in these systems. 2. Create an inventory of existing funding sources supporting child care and identify where funding gaps are greatest. 3. Research best practices for creating child care spaces both locally and in other communities. 4. Engage the City of Santa Barbara and the City of Goleta in the assessment and planning process and provide advice and support to city leaders on policy changes that would help create other spaces and increase l parent access. 5. Engage local employers, including municipal governments, in the assessment and planning process and identify solutions that benefit employers or could be supported and implemented by them. 6. Identify specific strategies and solutions that should be prioritized in our communities’ efforts to expand parent access and increase child care spaces. 7. With input from stakeholders, experts, funders and partners, develop a proposed multi-year action plan for child care collaboration to implement these strategies and solutions. 8. Engage local ECE experts at all stages of the assessment and planning process. United Way of Santa Barbara County has completed its study and submitted the attached report for the city’s review. City officials invited the United Way of Santa Barbara County to present its findings to the council. DISCUSSION: The study solicited the views of parents, employers, and child care providers through online surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Parents of children ages zero to five who live or work in the area were asked about their experience finding and maintaining child care in the area. A total of 492 parents responded to the survey. Information was also collected from 72 local child care providers, professionals who support parents or providers, and several large employers in the area, including government agencies and non-profit service providers. non-profit. In summary, the survey results focused on three major barriers for parents and providers described below: 1. Cost of child care: Local child care providers surveyed report that the monthly cost average for full-time care of an infant is $1,481 and that of a preschooler is $1,194. For a family of four, with a preschooler and an infant in full-time care, earning the Santa Barbara County median household income, households can be expected to spend an average of $37 % of their monthly income just for childcare costs. Parents who are not eligible for free or low-cost public programs, especially those with incomes just above those who are eligible, face significant financial hardship. 2. Demand for space: There is a significant gap between care needs and capacity in the county, with an estimated shortfall of 9,371 spaces for children ages zero to five in licensed care facilities. Providers surveyed reported that over 2,000 parents are on waiting lists for places. 3. Staffing and employment: The biggest obstacle reported by the suppliers surveyed is the ability to maintain qualified staff. Suppliers highlighted inadequate wages and a limited pipeline of workers entering the field, which matches the trend in national recruiting and staffing data across industries. The recommendations assessed in response to feedback from interviewees, focus group participants and survey respondents are briefly listed below.  Appoint a coalition of stakeholder groups and community leaders who will adopt and pursue a collaborative child care action plan.  Hire a daycare coordinator to manage the adoption and implementation of the collaborative action plan.  Elements of a comprehensive collaborative action plan should include concrete actions to address identified needs within the sector and should be informed by solid data and an extensive network of community partners/stakeholders. »

Check back for more from the presentation on your NewsChannel tonight.

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