One of the things the pandemic brought front and center was the struggle to find affordable, flexible childcare at a moment’s notice. Hundreds of daycare providers had to close down during the pandemic, according to the City of San Diego, leaving parents scrambling. Both the public and private sectors are working to find solutions.
Allied Gardens resident Denise Cuellar has three kids. Like so many, the pandemic has been tough on her household.
"The stress and the strain and the worry of care for our kids. In addition to making sure we keep a roof over our heads and keep jobs secured for us, it’s been pretty heavy,” said Cuellar.
When schools and so much else closed, Cuellar and her husband had to continue working their jobs at a bank and a grocery store.
“There’s been times where I had no choice but to call in sick to work because our kids are home and we literally can’t send them to school,” said Cuellar.
Even her trusted childcare, Gina's Bluebird Daycare in Allied Garden had to shut down for a while too because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“A lot of us got it. So that was hard. I had to close for 21 days,” said owner Gina Cazares.
Looking for a new one was nearly impossible for Cuellar. Cazares told NBC 7 that many fellow daycares had reduced in size or decided not to take new children because of the pandemic and the fear of spreading the virus.
“A lot of the daycares don’t want to take the parents in. Because like I said, new germs, new family. They might only come in for a few weeks. A lot of providers don’t want to do that.”
San Diego based company, Tootris, a childcare matchmaking app essentially, has helped fill the gaps for both Cuellar and Cazares. Cazares can advertise her business, hours, background info and communicate with interested parents. Cuellar can search for a backup in-home daycare quickly, according to her needs.
“One location, that you know is a trusted and vetted location that has that many different options and resources makes a difference,” said Cuellar.
The City of San Diego is also currently addressing the widespread child care shortage and affordability problem. During a recent council meeting, a YMCA study was referenced stating that nearly 190,000 children in San Diego County under the age of 12 don’t have a stay-at-home parent and are not able to secure childcare.
Officials are currently scouting dozens of locations including libraries, parks and recreation centers and office buildings for daycare facility options. Meeting documents also stated the city is considering assisting smaller childcare facilities that closed during the pandemic to reopen. Next steps include an RFI submission in spring or summer, according to city documents.