Access to affordable child care is one of many shortfalls exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Quality childcare is expensive. For many parents, it's financially out of reach, leading people to make arrangements with family, friends and home daycares.
This was true even before COVID-19. But the pandemic shut down many childcare providers, making options even more limited. For low-income parents in particular, this has been a major challenge.
According to the California Department of Social Services, between March and July 2020, more than 9,300 licensed childcare providers went out of business statewide. Home-based childcare providers represented 80% of those closures.
"A lot of those provers are women in underserved communities, so those who were already severely hit by COVID-19. Also, they were concerned about their finances. They were also concerned about having to adapt to new guidance and guidelines that came into place in order to limit the transmission of COVID," said Adriana Taboada is Director of the International Rescue Committee Small Business Development Center.
Under-resourced communities such as City Heights have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19.
A group of organizations, including the Chicano Federation and the International Rescue Committee, created a program called STEPS, aimed at reaching Spanish-speaking, immigrant and refugee communities of City Heights.
The 12-week training program provided basic business consulting to home-based childcare providers. Skills taught include marketing, finance, and bookkeeping. So-called “Cultural Navigators” assist providers with accessing COVID-19 resources.
"So these are coaches from the community that we're able to act as liaisons between the childcare providers and some of the agencies providing services," Taboada explained.
Organizers of STEPS say all the businesses that participated remained open during the pandemic and had a 22% increase in enrollment, and increased revenue.
"Despite the challenges of COVID they were able to thrive and continue to contribute to their communities," said Taboada.
This program is free to participants and is open to City Heights childcare providers. Funding for the program is provided by The San Diego Foundation and Price Philanthropies.
If you'd like to apply for the STEPS program, you can contact Sonia Miramontes at SMiramontes@chicanofederation.org or (619) 285-5600.