Marin’s childcare costs are the highest in the Bay Area
Novato resident Heather Worley, a single mother who works full-time in customer service, said she would be lost without financial help to subsidize childcare for Amelia, her 4-year-old daughter.
“It’s going to make me cry just thinking about it,” she said, noting that she pays $ 480 per month instead of the total cost of $ 1,600. The total expense would amount to almost $ 20,000 per year, or about 30% of his income.
Marin County has earned the position of the most expensive county for child care in the region, according to the latest findings in the “Measuring real costs” a study on family budgets and spending by United Ways of California. the study found that a Marin family of four with two adults, a preschooler and a school-aged child spends an average of $ 23,832 per year on child care, almost $ 1,000 more than the next county, San Mateo.
Henry Gascon, a non-partisan United Ways researcher, said that in the above scenario, a family would have to earn at least $ 126,000 a year to afford the essentials.
“And that’s just the minimum budget, the minimum,” he said. “Housing and child care are the two main obstacles for families in difficulty. We know that in reality, many low-income families cannot afford licensed child care costs and virtually rely on family and friends to care for their children and in some cases , of their brothers and sisters.
Gascon noted that the data is from 2019 and that the COVID-19 crisis has had a significant impact on the industry.
Mike Blakeley, chief executive of the Marin Economic Forum, said employers in Marin before the pandemic reported to his organization that childcare has been a barrier to hiring, especially in low-wage industries.
“You can see why some potential employees may be left on the sidelines: Someone earning $ 12 or $ 14 an hour might have to choose not to work to stay home with their child, otherwise they wipe out most of the work. his income for childcare, ”he said. . “Ultimately, this means the community won’t be able to have the same access to the goods and services they are used to because places like restaurants don’t have enough workers.”
After losing a scholarship earlier this year for her daughter’s daycare, Novato resident Deysi Ku Caamal was spending $ 70 a day, or about $ 1,400 a month, out of pocket.
“I had to take her out of gymnastics,” said Ku Caamal. “I had to stop taking her to museums and things like that.”
Shortly after losing the scholarship, she lost her job. Now working as a dental assistant, Ku Caamal receives help from her parents and hopes to return to daycare soon.
Aideen Gaidmore, Executive Director of the Marin Child Care Council, said child care is at a critical point and government support is needed.
“It would be great to see large employers help subsidize child care for their employees. We know that for many women the cost of child care prevents them from entering the workforce, ”she said. “The state budget has included additional dollars to support essential low-income workers with child care vouchers, but we need more. If we are to rebuild the economy in Marin, we must invest in child care so families can work.
Gaidmore said the daycare council provides grants through various programs, including to Worley, whose daughter is one of 554 children served by the association.
Gaidmore said there are 152 licensed daycares and 136 licensed daycares in the county.
The nonprofit does not have an official survey of tuition fees for child care rates. However, he found that the average cost of full-time infant care is $ 2,000 per month. On the higher spectrum, costs run up to around $ 3,000 per month for an infant, while preschools go up to $ 2,600, she said.
There is a full-time care plan that costs $ 3,600 per month, she said. The minimum for a few hours of extracurricular care would be $ 700 per month.
“In general, it’s expensive to run a child care program,” Gaidmore said. “And obviously Marin County is not cheap and a lot of these programs are not making huge profits.”
Gaidmore said there are expenses such as rental fees, equipment and food, but one of the biggest challenges is attracting and retaining quality instructors. The average salary for employees is between $ 18 and $ 22 an hour.
“You want to pay a living wage, but you have to balance that with the needs of the families you serve,” said Liz Nolasco, program director at Old Firehouse School in Mill Valley, which serves up to 40 children with four. full time. professors and two assistant professors.
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped either. The crisis has forced new spending on safety equipment such as gloves and masks, new cleaning procedures and the hiring of cleaning crews. Nolasco said the rates, which range from $ 700 to $ 2,400, have increased 5% to help offset the new spending.
Kent Grady, the principal of Miss Sandie’s school in Novato, where Worley sends his daughter, said she had increased rates by almost 7% since the start of the pandemic to help cover costs. The school charges about $ 600 to $ 2,100 per month, depending on the child’s age and number of hours per day, a cost range that is on the more affordable end of the scale.
Before the pandemic, the nursery school welcomed up to 175 children with up to 35 staff. Today, it has around 110 registered and 27 on staff. The programs are divided by age group with two to three staff members per module, depending on the age of the children.
“There are a lot of hidden costs, such as insurance, license fees, health benefits, because we provide full health for all staff,” he said. “Then you add all the PPE (personal protective equipment) required due to COVID, we buy gloves, masks, cleaning supplies, and hire additional staff just to clean up.”
Cheryl Paddock, chief executive of North Marin Community Services, said the nonprofit is raising funds to offset the cost to parents. His organization currently has 84 children enrolled and 48 are scholarship recipients. A total of 123 are registered for the fall. Tuition fees, which for some programs include food, range from $ 506 to $ 1,393.
“We are working hard to raise funds and reduce costs,” she said. “We have to. What we’re hearing from customers is that next to accommodation and food, child care is the third highest cost for a home.