San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo held a press conference Monday morning calling for more affordable and accessible childcare in the city as the pandemic skyrocketed difficulties and obstacles in obtaining them.
In the company of child enrichment advocates, Campillo said San Diego is becoming a “less family-friendly” city due to struggles that were intensified by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Recent trends indicate that the city is becoming less family-friendly,” the District 7 councilmember said at a news conference from a Linda Vista childcare center. “This is born out of a recent showing of three distinct trends: first, the decline of school enrollment rates. Second, a decline of female labor force participation. And third, a decline in birth rates.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, roughly 2.5 million women left the workforce, according to Vice-President Kamala Harris. The U.S. birth and fertility rate dropped in 2020, with the number of births declining by 4% from 2019. Additionally, San Diego County experienced a 3% decrease in enrollment during the 2020-2021 school year.
“These all show that San Diegans are less likely to feel able to start a family here and those who do start a family too often need to exclude themselves from the workforce due to a lack of availability and affordability in high quality childcare,” Campillo said.
According to the city leader, the way to combat the disparities is by providing equitable childcare resources.
The first step in doing so, he said, is by identifying sites that could be used for childcare services. Second, the creation of an Office of Child and Youth Success would help place families in the direction of affordable child services and third, assigning roles of executive director, program planner and a youth intern for the aforementioned office would be crucial in overseeing practices.
“We know, just as every working family in San Diego and frankly, anywhere else, knows that access to affordable childcare facilities and options is an absolutely critical part of any family and any parent who wants to be able to work and serve their employer,” said Michael Zucchet, General Manager, San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA).
At least $430,000 would be needed to achieve these goals.
Campillo said he will request funds from next year's fiscal budget to realize his objective. His recommendations would first have to be included in the proposed budget and then be approved by the San Diego City Council before it could be achieved.
“I believe that we need to take bold action to immediately reverse the trends that I discussed before and make our city more accessible and accommodating to those who want to raise their children here, regardless of their zip code,” Campillo said.