San Diego is known for its stunning scenery, innovation economy and temperate climate – but did you know that many parts of our region are also considered childcare deserts?

Having access to childcare is crucial for working parents in San Diego County. That often leads to both parents taking jobs to make ends meet and afford childcare. Access and affordability in childcare can be a challenge.

The San Diego & Imperial Women’s Business Center hopes to change that.

Childcare in San Diego

The San Diego Foundation (SDF) Workforce, Childcare and Change Report lists San Diego as the 13th most expensive city in the nation. About 190,000 children under age 12 are without parents at home and lack access to quality childcare. The cost, for many, isn’t feasible either.

Research shows the cost of childcare is more than $19,000 per year for one infant in a licensed childcare center. For a typical family of four, for example, that can consume 40% of their budget.

Women are disproportionately affected by this issue. Too often, mothers are left with the decision to leave the workforce and care for their child at home to save money. It’s no different in San Diego, which has the second-lowest female participation in the workforce nationwide.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

As part of the SDF Early Childhood Initiatives grants, the San Diego & Imperial Women’s Business Center received funds to support an 8-week program that helps low-income, women of color launch their own in-home family childcare business. Those women also receive a child development certificate from Southwestern College.

“Thanks to the grants we received, we’re able to help women entrepreneurs with training and business counseling at no cost for them,” said Katty Ibarra, the San Diego & Imperial Women’s Business Center Director in an interview with Fox 5’s “The Localist.”

The program empowers women and teaches them how to be entrepreneurs, provides insight to marketing their business and money management, as well as the health and safety requirements needed to run a successful small childcare business.

“The Women’s Business Center is doing really critical work to support the backbone of our early care and education workforce,” said Katie Rast, SDF Director, Community Impact. “They’re supporting the women, primarily, who make so much of the childcare we rely on possible.”

Those resources include access to capital, access to education and other supports that make it easier for them to run their business successfully.

For many families, it can be both rewarding and life-changing.

“One of the best success stories ever is one of our family childcare providers,” said Ibarra. “She has a special needs kid and she wanted to start her business, but she couldn’t afford childcare. So, we helped her start her own business, so that way at the same time she’s taking care of her kid – she’s supporting her family. It’s a win-win for the community.”

Learn more about the childcare and the impacts on the workforce in San Diego from the SDF Workforce, Childcare + Change Report. Learn more about the Early Childhood Initiative.