A new report issued Monday found that Los Angeles County parents with two children pay nearly half their wages for child care, and that licensed early care and education centers are only able to serve one in seven working parents.
“There is an extreme gap between the number of working families with infants and toddlers and the capacity of licensed early care and education providers to care for those children,” said Michele Sartell, child care planning coordinator for the County of Los Angeles Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education. “Our intention with this report is twofold: identify the magnitude of the problems parents face in accessing quality preschool and child care, and identify workable solutions for policy makers at the local, state and federal level to address these repeated gaps in our early care and education system.”
The report, which is conducted every five years, was produced by the Los Angeles County Child Care Planning Committee, the Los Angeles County Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education and First 5 LA.
Income eligibility requirements for subsidized child care are frozen at 2007-08 state median income levels, the reported noted. The authors recommended an update to the guidelines to reflect the current state median income.
“Income eligibility for subsidized care is a barrier for many low- income working parents in need of funded care programs and services,” said Debra Colman, vice chair of the Los Angeles County Child Care Planning Committee and senior program officer at First 5 LA.
To increase the number of licensed child care providers, the report recommends an increase in state and federal investments in child care subsidy programs, especially for infants and toddlers.
The report also noted that the pay for the early care and education workforce is less than half of what kindergarten teachers make and is part of the reason there is a shortage of licensed child care providers.
To create incentives for more people to go into the field, the report recommends raising regional market rates and standard reimbursement rates for early care and education providers and advocates for the adoption of a single statewide reimbursement rate for all providers that covers the “true cost of care.”
To encourage more providers to earn associates or bachelors degrees, the report recommends expanding free and low-cost professional development opportunities and pathways to pursue higher education to improve quality.
—City News Service
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