The county government of Santa Clara, California, plans to spend millions of dollars on childcare services and job development in an effort to avert an ongoing catastrophe. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will discuss allocating $20 million to support three FIRST 5 initiatives and create a grant program to assist in reopening day care facilities that closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The American Rescue Plan Act, a comprehensive coronavirus-relief plan worth $1.9 trillion, was enacted into law in 2021 and provides the necessary cash. The county of Santa Clara benefited to the tune of $374 million. An additional $5 million would be given to FIRST 5, a group that promotes the well-being of children from infancy through age five, so that it may carry on its efforts to increase the local labour force.
By this $15 million grant project, county officials seek to help restore services that were severely diminished during the pandemic. In particular, the county will give preference to centres that cater to low-income families and those that want to expand their services for toddlers and babies. The grants would be used to build or improve daycare centers, as well as help with ongoing costs.
Supervisor Susan Ellenberg said, “The urgency is now,” as quoted by San Jose Spotlight. “Our economy cannot recover from a worldwide pandemic unless we start to work from the premise that universal access to child care is good for the entire economy.” Give back to the community news you rely on.
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Having your input count is important. Submit your membership application right now. Ellenberg, who has made child care a top priority, has stated this funding will help Santa Clara County get one step closer to implementing universal child care. “This is huge,” Ellenberg proclaimed to the San Jose Spotlight.
“Public funding is essential to prop up this industry and to fill the gap between what child care actually costs and what families can afford to pay.”
A new children and family services agency was established, and a pilot programme was implemented to help county employees with the cost of child care. In order to kickstart three new initiatives to promote and assist early education workers, elected leaders opted last year to award a $5 million contract to FIRST 5.
These initiatives include a support network for family child care home providers, a program to train additional transitional kindergarten teachers, and an apprenticeship program through which college students might get work experience while still in school. Officials from FIRST 5 told the San Jose Spotlight that both educational programs have been a complete success thus far. If awarded, the new $5 million contract would allow for the expansion of these initiatives.
“The workforce issues are paramount, because even as you open up new child care spaces, if you don’t have teachers in those classrooms, then you have empty classrooms.”
Heidi Emberling, interim chief program officer of FIRST 5, told San Jose Spotlight. “We’re building a pipeline that hasn’t existed.” As a result of a dramatic scarcity of both child care facilities and childcare professionals, this one-time grant comes at a crucial time for Santa Clara County. About 700 local daycares have shut down in the past decade, with about 300 of those closing because of the epidemic.
As of last December, local childcare providers Go Kids and Options for Children had a combined waitlist of over 1,700 families. County officials have reported a significant loss of qualified childcare workers who are leaving the industry in favour of higher-paying positions in industries like fast food and retail. Some people have even fled the area entirely because of the exorbitant expense of living.
According to a report from 2023 Joint Venture Silicon Valley, the cost of child care has increased twice as quickly as regional inflation since 2010. This has made it increasingly difficult for families in the area to make ends meet. According to a survey commissioned by Ellenberg’s office, the average cost of newborn care for a Silicon Valley family in 2022 is $26,450 per year, while the average cost of preschool child care is $21,900 per year.
As this is happening, nearly half of the youngsters in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are living in low-income homes. Statistics from the state demonstrate that more than two-thirds of children in Santa Clara County who are in need of services are not receiving them. The high price of child care has added another hurdle for women to overcome on their way to the job.
“You can’t go back to work if you don’t have quality and safe child care,” , as Supervisor Cindy Chavez explained to the San Jose Spotlight. “We see this (investment) both as a really great opportunity to give children a great start and to give their parents an opportunity to go back to work, if they choose to.”
On Tuesdays at 9:30 in the morning, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors convenes. Study how to be an active observer.
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