Los Angeles should expand its childcare and early education programs through a potential ballot measure, according to a proposal introduced Wednesday by City Councilman Paul Krekorian.

In a motion submitted to the City Council, Krekorian said that before the Great Recession, the city offered licensed child care programs at 26 facilities through the Department of Recreation and Parks. The ensuing budget cuts reduced the number to two, and the city should look to create a licensed childcare center in each of the 15 City Council districts, he said.

“The Great Recession is over. We now have a balanced budget, and we have eliminated over 85 percent of our structural deficit and it’s time to start investing in our children again,” Krekorian said at a news conference at City Hall.

Krekorian’s motion does not estimate the potential cost of the expanded program. It cites a study commissioned by the county and First5LA in 2017, which found that there are about 650,000 children under the age of 5 in the county, yet licensed centers and family child care homes only have the capacity to serve 13 percent of working parents with infants and toddlers.

The motion would direct city staff to report on the Department of Recreation and Park’s current state licensed child care program, options for expansion along with a budget to be implemented in fiscal year 2019-20, an analysis of various ballot measures in San Francisco and other cities that have established children’s funds, potential funding in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget for early childhood education and childcare programs, and other potential sources.

“So many families need to find affordable, trusted childcare. It is the difference between how they can actually survive in the city of Los Angeles, and it’s one of the things that assures the youth’s success in putting them on a track for success in their young lives,” said City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who was one of three council members who seconded Krekorian’s motion.

Krekorian said he wanted to explore a potential ballot measure that could fund the program through a guaranteed source of revenue such a parcel or sales tax that would continue through tough economic times and not be subjected to the ups and downs of the city’s general fund.

Newsom has proposed a state increase of nearly $2 billion in early childhood education spending.

“Honestly even if this program is fully funded by the state, there are so many needs that our children have that are being unmet. I am very eager to go to the voters of Los Angeles and make the case that this is a wise investment of their money to invest in the future of their children,” Krekorian said.

Krekorian said the program would likely be needs based and offer subsidies to working families who qualify based on income level.

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