SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Governor Gavin Newsom signed a landmark bill that would pump $2.6 billion into child care and early education in its first year on Friday.
It is a desperately needed relief to an industry that was so badly damaged by the pandemic, it actually slowed the state's recovery. Nonetheless, California is the third least affordable state for childcare in the nation.
By signing the $2.6 billion Child Care and Early Education Bill, 40,000 members of the Child Care Providers United union and other providers, will find new and better resources for California children now and in the future.
"We are committed at a completely different level to that next generation. This is one of the most significant and important organization efforts that has occurred in years and years in the United States of America," said Governor Gavin Newsom.
It should be a game-changer. "This is about economic development. This is about fundamental infrastructure; the human capital that's just as important as road and bridges and broadband," said Newsom.
The pandemic has led to the permanent closure of 8,500 childcare centers in the state. There was less competition, as more and more people, hoping to go back to work, scrambled to find childcare. At the same time, there were not enough caregivers to staff many available positions.
As a result, Child Care Aware of America said the cost of center-based child care has now spiked 41% nationwide.
"The costs for childcare, it recently, it surpassed rent and housing costs as the highest expense for working families. It can range anywhere from $1,700 to $2,500 a month," said Philip Mayard of the Children's Council of San Francisco.
"And, it's extremely challenging for working parents which, of course, has been detrimental to women in the workforce," said Stacie Steelman, Founder and CEO of Crunch Care, a national nanny staffing company based in San Diego, " Truly, the center care costs are comparable to nanny costs at this time."
The new bill would help alleviate some, but not all of these problems over time. "This is a historic investment and we're happy to have it but it's going to take this sort of a commitment on a long-term basis. And, it's going to take a while. It's not going to happen overnight," said Mr. Maynard.
When the stimulus ends in September, forcing folks back to work, childcare would be an even more hot-button issue.