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The cost of childcare is rising and parents are struggling to find available and affordable care

Child Action, Inc. helps parents find options for childcare and early education services in Sacramento County.
Credit: ABC10/KXTV

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Many parents are struggling to find help that’s available and affordable with many childcare centers and in-home daycares closing.

Jennifer Kistler-McCoy has been struggling to find childcare for her twin boys. 

“I searched, I feel, like nearly everywhere,” Kistler-McCoy said.

She started searching in Facebook groups and Care.com when her twin boys were born this summer but didn’t find anyone willing to take two babies at once.

Not only has it been tough to find someone available, but it was also expensive.
ABC10 looked at prices for local daycares and preschools in the Sacramento area and some ranged from $1,299 to $1,900 with a waitlist of several months.

Tara Taylor wanted early education for her daughter, but it was pricey especially for a single parent.

“I wanted her to have those crucial three to five years,” Taylor said. “I wanted her to have full brain development and the best opportunities, and it just wasn’t affordable on a single income budget.”

ABC10 reached out to Child Action, Inc., which helps parents find options for childcare and early education services in Sacramento County. Some ways people can qualify for subsidized childcare include, earning less than $78,000 a year for a family of three or being referred from an agency, according to the California Department of Social Services. However, Child Action, Inc. says that is dependent on state funding.

According to Child Action Inc., almost 9,000 children are currently enrolled in subsidized childcare in Sacramento County, however there are almost 2,900 children on a waitlist. For those who don’t qualify, options are limited.

“I was told I made $27 too much to qualify,” Taylor said. “You either get help or you don’t get help. I got zero help because I was barely making what they thought was sufficient, and it wasn’t sufficient.”

Taylor started an organization called Single Mom Strong, a non-profit organization helping single mothers and their children. Through the organization, she started a solution for affordable, quality preschool and childcare called EmpowerME in Citrus Heights. It’s not income-based and is several hundred dollars cheaper than the retail rate.

“Typically in Sacramento County, you’re gonna pay about $1,100 per month per preschool,” Taylor said. “Our program is about $800 per month.”

Taylor has plans to expand the program to Sacramento.

“We want to demonstrate that this could be done in a better way,” she said.

The pandemic has created more of a need for child care services.

According to Child Action, since January 2021, almost 100 licensed in-home daycares and 18 childcare centers have closed in Sacramento County, which equates to spots for 1,500 children. Some parents, who are able, have to adjust their work schedules.

“They’re taping it together,” said Julie Smith, of Child Action, Inc. “They’re trying to figure out something that’s working for them, and that’s why it’s really important and crucial to continue the dialogue... it’s not only a family issue, but it’s an economic development issue and something that benefits our community as a whole.”

Some more affordable options for parents include finding a licensed in-home daycare which can be a few hundred dollars cheaper than a daycare center. People can check for complaints and their license through the Department of Social Services. It’s a resource that is updated weekly. 

However, with the low supply and high demand, Child Action, Inc. says prices will likely not go down anytime soon. One of the ways Child Action, Inc. is trying to help lower costs is by encouraging people to start opening up their own centers.

“We provide support starting from the orientation through the licensure,” Smith said. “We help give them kits and provide scholarships for CPR and first aid training that are required to become licensed, and then once they become licensed, we support them as they operate their small business.” 

Child Action Inc. has helped more than 70 people open up licensed in-home daycares since July 2020.

Opening up a daycare is not something Kistler-McCoy is considering anytime soon with her twins, but she would like to get back to work in freelance writing.

“I’ve pretty much put a halt to my business for now because I don’t have the time to do it,” Kistler-McCoy said. “We really need the help.”

Some other options to find care include joining local babysitter and nanny network groups on Facebook or doing a nanny share to save money. A nanny share involves splitting the costs of a nanny with another family.

To find resources for childcare in your county click HERE.

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