Community Assessment - Health & Quality of Life in San Mateo
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child care

The demand for child care in San Mateo County remains significantly higher than the state average, and the need for child care far exceeds its availability. This need might be explained by the local high cost of living and the availability of jobs. With continued population growth predicted, the demand and cost of child care can be expected to increase. 271

In San Mateo County, 1998 survey findings reveal that:

  • A total of 12% of surveyed parents of children under the age of 5 years use licensed day care, and 7.7% use a child care center as their primary type of child care arrangement. 272
  • Just under one-half (46.3%) of surveyed parents report that their child stays home with a non-working parent, while 21.3% report that he/she stays with a family member. Another 9.4% rely on a friend or babysitter. 273

 

demand for child care

The percentage of children with working parents is used as a multiplier to estimate the need for child care. The is determined by the actual count of children who either live with both parents and both parents work, or who live with a single parent who works.

  • In San Mateo County, most children have both parents or a single-parent head of household working outside the home (63% of children 5 years and younger and 69% of children 6 to 13 in 1990). These percentages are considerably higher than found statewide (51% and 59%, respectively); for children under 5, this proportion is the highest in the state. 274
  • Based on these figures, there were an estimated 89,563 San Mateo County children in need of child care in 1998.275

Estimated Need for Child Care in San Mateo County, 1998
(Child Population With Working Parents)

Birth-2 years

3-5 years

6-13 years

Total

19,290

20,175

50,098

89,563

supply of child care services & unmet need

  • In 1998, there was a total maximum of 25,911 licensed child care spaces in San Mateo County. This includes: 276

      * A total of 18,355 spaces in 333 licensed child care programs; and 277

      * A maximum of 7,556 spaces in 766 family child care homes.   [Note         that the maximum spaces in family child care homes represents the total        number if all family child care providers chose the "plus 2" option,   
      allowing them to add two school-age children, including their own;
      however, the number of infants enrolled would therefore be limited.] 278

  • By subtracting maximum number of child care spaces from the estimated demand for child care (89,563), there was an unmet need for 63,652 children in San Mateo County in 1998, up 17.5% since 1993. 279
  • Although licensed child care capacity increased between 1993 and 1998, so has the number of children in the county. Therefore, the percentage of unmet need (the number of unmet need divided by the total demand) has remained about the same (71% in 1998, 72% in 1993).280

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child care center locations

  • The following map outlines the TANF caseload of San Mateo County ZIP Codes (an indicator of low income), overlaid by the locations of child care centers throughout the county.281

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cost of child care

Because the demand for child care in San Mateo County far exceeds its availability, families pay well above the state average to secure child care. Current child care costs for one infant would consume 83% of the monthly income of a minimum wage earner in San Mateo County. Note the following 1998 costs of child care in San Mateo County.

  • For an infant, the average cost of child care was $792 per month in a licensed child care center, and $650 in a family child care home.282wpeA.jpg (14976 bytes)
  • For a preschooler, the average cost of child care was $546 per month in a licensed child care center and $614 in a family child care home. 283
  • For a school-aged child, the average cost of part-time child care was $329 per month in a licensed child care center and $363 in a family child care home. 284
  • Costs of child care in San Mateo County are significantly above the state average. 1998 statewide averages are not yet available, but note the differences in the following 1996 averages:

* Infant care in a licensed child care center in 1996 was $745 in San Mateo County and $585 statewide (San Mateo County ranked 38th out of 41 reporting California counties, with 41 being the most expensive). 285

* Preschooler care in a licensed child care center in 1996 was $485 in San Mateo County and $407 statewide (San Mateo County ranked 50 out of 55 reporting California counties). 286

 

Evaluations of Child Care Services

Among surveyed San Mateo County parents of children under 5 years of age:

  • 39.7% rate local child care services as "excellent" or "very good," while 20% say that local child care services are "fair" or "poor." These evaluations are somewhat more favorable than recorded in Santa Clara County, and similar to statewide findings. 287
  • Among those rating these services as "fair" or "poor," stated reasons include "not enough services available" (30.8%) and "existing programs are too expensive" (20.5%).288
  • Among surveyed parents using licensed day care programs or child care centers, all were comfortable that their child receives sufficient individual attention.289

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after-school child care

Regarding after-school care, 1998 survey findings among San Mateo County parents of school-aged children (those aged 5 and older) reveal the following:

  • 39.4% state that their child returns home from school to a non-working parent, while 24.2% say he/she returns to another family member. Another 12.1% say their child goes to a babysitter. 290
  • A total of 2.2% of parents of school-aged children send their child to a child care center after school, and 2.5% send him/her to a licensed day care program. Another 7.1% send their child to a school-based after-school program, while 12.5% say their child supervises himself/herself after school. 291
  • School-based programs are most used among children 9 to 12 years of age (11.7% attend after-school care), while 40.8% of 16- to 17-year-olds are self-supervised after school).292

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subsidized child care

  • One out of four San Mateo County children aged 13 or younger is income-eligible for subsidized child care. This includes 28,736 (26%) of the 111,102 children aged 13 or younger in the county.293
  • Taking into account the number who qualify and the number currently receiving subsidized care, 86% of qualified infants and school-aged children whose parents work are not currently being served. Among preschoolers, 59% of qualified children are not being served.294

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foster care

  • Between 1994 and 1996, 3.7 out every 1,000 children in San Mateo County were in out-of-home foster care (the numbers decreased during this period: 644 children in 1994, 588 in 1995, and 533 in 1996). The San Mateo County rate is also lower than in neighboring Santa Clara County (1994-96 annual average of 5.8 per 1,000), and well below the state average (9.9 per 1,000).295
  • The average foster care placement in San Mateo County between 1994 and 1996 was 23.5 months, 2 to 5 months shorter than in Santa Clara County and California during this period. 296

 

Head start programs

  • In 1996-97, San Mateo County had approximately 568 Head Start slots throughout the county. However, there were nearly 3,300 eligible children. 297

 


271  Indicators for a Sustainable San Mateo County: A Report Card of Our County’s Quality of Life. Sustainable San Mateo County. May 1998.

272  1998 San Mateo County Quality of Life Survey. Healthy Community Collaborative of San Mateo County. September 1998.

273  Ibid.

274  California Child Care Portfolio. California Child Care Resource & Referral Network. 1997.

275  Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. January 1999.

276  Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. January 1999.

277  Ibid.

278  Ibid.

279  Ibid.

280  Ibid.

281  Peninsula Library System. Community Information Program. January 1999.

282  Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. January 1999.

283  Ibid.

284  Ibid.

285  California County Data Book. Children Now. 1997.

286   Ibid.

287  1998 San Mateo County Quality of Life Survey. Healthy Community Collaborative of San Mateo County. September 1998.

288  Ibid.

289  Ibid.

290  1998 San Mateo County Quality of Life Survey. Healthy Community Collaborative of San Mateo County. September 1998.

291  Ibid.

292  1998 San Mateo County Quality of Life Survey. Healthy Community Collaborative of San Mateo County. September 1998.

293  Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County. January 1999.

294  Ibid.

295  California County Data Book. Children Now. 1997.

296  Ibid.

297  San Mateo County Head Start/Early Head Start Programs.

 

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