Credit: Courtesy

Childcare throughout Santa Barbara County escalated from being a quiet crisis before the pandemic to a very loud one since, with childcare opportunities being too few, too expensive, and of dubious quality. To study just how tight the market is countywide — and conjure some potential solutions—the County of Santa Barbara has awarded the United Way of Santa Barbara County $1 million to prepare a comprehensive assessment of what’s available, provide support for businesses seeking to provide or expand childcare options, and draft an emergency action plan. That money comes from the $2 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds the county still has. United Way prepared a similar assessment for the City of Goleta. 

According to United Way, a typical family with two kids in licensed day care can expect to spend 37 percent of its annual income on childcare. That’s if they’re lucky enough to find any. Waiting lists are notoriously long; many require those seeking childcare to pay a stipend to remain on the list. In a prior United Way assessment, one-third of the respondents were unhappy about the quality of their care. 


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