The California Child Care and Referral Network has just released the 12th edition of the biennial California Child Care Portfolio, which tracks the changing child care landscape by county and statewide.

Santa Clara County’s numbers show a continuing pattern of families, particularly low-income families, leaving the county. The number of children in the county continues to fall, with the steepest declines among lowest ages – the number of children ages 0-2 fell by eight percent between 2016 and 2018.  The number of two-parent families with both parents in the labor force barely grew, while the number of working single-parent families fell by twelve percent. There were substantial drops in the number of families living in poverty and the number of children ages 0-5 in poverty (22% and 58% respectively) as well as a seven percent drop in the number of children in subsidized care.

The Portfolio also shows decreasing access and increasing cost for ECE services. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of center-based, licensed, preschool and child care slots fell two percent as 25 centers (four percent) closed. At the same time, 146 licensed family child care homes closed (ten percent) leading to a nine percent drop in the number of available slots. Full-time, licensed, center-based care now costs over $20,000 for an infant and $15,000 for a preschooler. This is eight percent and ten percent (respectively) higher than the cost two years ago. There were similar increases in the costs at licensed family child care homes.

This ongoing pattern reiterates the need for substantially expanding access to high quality ECE in Santa Clara County to meet the needs of our families and ensure every child has the strong start they deserve.