SACRAMENTO — Communities across California are struggling to provide working parents with proper child care options.
It wasn’t long after Kate Soto moved to Sacramento that she began looking for a child care center for her 3-year-old son Jackson while she went to work.
“It was just doing a lot of Google searches, calling places. I would go and do tours,” Soto told FOX40.
Then weeks of searching turned into months.
“A lot of places have waiting lists until maybe 2020,” Soto said.
Eventually, she found Caring Connection Children’s Center in midtown Sacramento.
But a lot of families aren’t so lucky. According to the California Childcare Network, Sacramento County only has enough child care space for about 27 percent of its child population.
“It’s been an ongoing concern,” said Executive Director of Caring Connection Julie Jenkins. “In our field, we’re always filled. We’re always full with a waiting list.”
Jenkins said she doesn’t like having waitlists or denying families but state regulations leave her little choice. State rules limit her to one child per 35 square feet of indoor space and 75 square feet of outdoor space.
“In Sacramento, especially in the urban areas, we don’t have that space,” she said.
On top of that, Jenkins said the costs of staffing a child care center are expensive and those costs are passed on to parents.
“Since 2006, over 50 percent of family child care homes have closed in Sacramento County,” said Julia Frudden with the Child Care Law Center.
On Wednesday, officials from the City of Sacramento partnered with child care organizations to begin addressing the problem.
The city is hoping to bring down high costs and bring more child care providers to the region by getting rid of legal barriers. That would involve bringing private programs and public school districts together.
“My hope is to create a model ordinance for the City of Sacramento that our neighboring cities can use,” said Sacramento City Councilman Eric Guerra.
It’s a first step so families like Soto’s won’t have to wait months for basic child care.
“It’s a huge relief. I have somewhere that he’s going to be spending time that I know he’s safe,” Soto said.
City officials say they’ve begun discussions about how Sacramento can work to influence state officials to help address the lack of child care availability.