Making the Case for Investing in Child Care

If you have children, you know firsthand how daunting it is to find child care that meets your needs. You also know that child care is expensive—upwards of $20,000 per child per year.

Many families in San Francisco cannot afford to pay for child care on top of housing costs and basic necessities. Children’s Council is working at the individual and systems level to change that!

Each year, Children’s Council helps over 15,000 families connect to child care that meets their needs. We help families from across the economic spectrum to understand the types of child care available, how to assess for quality, and how to find care. Then, we help them identify child care providers that meet their criteria from our database of all 1,000 programs in San Francisco.

Additional support is provided to lower-income families: Children’s Council helps them navigate the complexities of federal, state and local subsidies that help pay for care. We connect them with other community services, like food and housing assistance. We are a critical part of the safety net—often the first door to services for young families in need. Our 120 talented, caring staff meet families where they are, delivering services in many languages to San Francisco’s diverse community. In addition, we increase the availability of quality care by helping people start child care businesses and strengthen their skills as early educators and business owners.

Here are a few facts to illustrate the systemic child care problem in our city. In a high-cost city like San Francisco, it takes an income of $147,000 for a family with two young children to cover their basic needs, including child care.

Figures from the California Family Needs Calculator

The reality is that half of SF’s young children are in families living on less.

Despite these high costs, to be eligible for a child care subsidy, a family of three must earn less than $65,500. And, due to a shortage of subsidies for very young children, if the family has an infant or toddler, they are unlikely to get assistance at all if they earn more than $24,000. Right now, there are more than 2,500 eligible children on SF’s subsidy waiting list.

Depending on the child’s age, a family may wait for months—some, even years, to get help. So much critical brain development happens in the first few years of life. Children do not have years, or even months, to wait for high-quality, nurturing care. At the same time that families are struggling to make ends meet, so are the professionals that care for their children. Early educators with BAs make less than any other profession, with wages often far below self-sufficiency.

To address these systemic issues, Children’s Council is a vocal advocate with federal, state and local policymakers. Our job won’t be done until early care professionals can earn a decent income and all families have access to quality care for their children. The research is clear: Investing in child care and early education is a smart, two-generational strategy for alleviating poverty. And the investment pays back in spades.

When vulnerable children get quality early care, it lowers costs in years to come for special and remedial education, and long-term costs for welfare and criminal justice. This investment in children also generates immediate benefits, supporting a productive and stable workforce –for both the parents and the caregivers. If we want San Francisco to be a city where diverse families thrive and a city that maintains a middle class, we need more support for child care.

We, at Children’s Council, hope you will join us and our many community partners in our efforts to make quality early care and education a reality for all families in our city. We hope “you” will become part of “us.”

We hope you will talk with your friends and colleagues about this important topic—raising the visibility of this issue within your companies and your communities. We also hope you will advocate with us at local, state and federal levels for increased funding. And, finally, we hope you will support us in the critical work of helping thousands of families each year to thrive.

To learn more about the work of Children’s Council, visit our home page or engage with us on social media.

You may also make a donation now; gifts of every size allow Children’s Council to significantly impact the lives of San Francisco families with young children.