You probably know that the YMCA serves infants and toddlers with its camps, swim lessons, and even our Child Watch services while you exercise. But did you know we also help the youngest San Diegans outside of the walls of the YMCA?
With our YMCA Childcare Resource Service (CRS) branch, we help all families access quality, affordable child care so parents can continue to work while their children are prepared to enter Kindergarten ready to learn. YMCA CRS is the only State-funded child care Resource & Referral Agency in San Diego County, meaning we have a database of more than 5,000 child care options families can choose from to find the right place for their child. This puts us in a unique position to share our expertise with others invested in the early care and education field.
YMCA CRS employees have been busy doing just that – kicking off 2019 by educating policymakers in Sacramento about how they can support programs that (1) give families the aid they need to pay for such care and (2) help providers improve the quality of their child care businesses. With new faces at the Capitol and a governor who has already demonstrated a commitment to supporting early childhood, our visits carried extra weight.
Our first visit to Sacramento took place on January 23 with the California Alternative Payment Program Association (CAPPA), which represents public and private organizations that connect low-income families to child care. In meetings with the offices of State Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assemblymembers Todd Gloria, Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher, Randy Voepel, Marie Waldron, Tasha Boerner-Horvath, Brian Maienschein, we demonstrated that subsidized child care investments of more than $48.5 million helped more than 5,000 working families and nearly 10,000 children in San Diego!
Our second visit took place on February 6 with the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network and offered a valuable opportunity for our President & CEO Baron Herdelin-Doherty to take part in the process.
“We had a small team that took the Capitol by storm, thanking our legislators for their support and telling them impact stories of how our work is changing and saving lives,” said Baron. “For me, it is always enjoyable to spend time with staff who works so hard to serve the families that need the service we provide in San Diego County.”
In meetings with Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher and Shirley Weber and State Senator Ben Hueso, we focused our conversations on child care availability and the importance of home-based child care, known as family child care homes. The concepts are related, since licensed child care centers only have enough space for 5% of children under age 2 in California, so most families must find another option.
Family child care homes are an essential part of the early care infrastructure, particularly for low-income families and those that work non-traditional hours. However, these businesses do not have access to the same resources and training that licensed child care centers have to improve their quality, so our visits focused on the important role these businesses play in our community and the benefits they provide to the well-being of our most vulnerable families.
Our staff work with these families daily, and the visits presented a valuable opportunity for them to demonstrate that expertise and connect our day-to-day work to the larger social issues of early care and education and economic stability for families.
For more information about our child care subsidy and quality improvement programs, visit our YMCA CRS page here, and check back next week for a recap from one of the staff who attended.