YMCA of San Diego County is not new to the intersection of workforce and childcare.  

In its over 40 years of service to the San Diego region as the County’s Childcare Resource and Referral, helping parents find the best childcare solutions to fit their needs has been a significant piece of YMCA’s work with families. As conversations increase on how to better support working families, what’s becoming more and more apparent is that employers have a vital role to play.  

“Across San Diego, too many working families are struggling to find and afford high-quality childcare,” shared Kim McDougal, Executive Director with YMCA Childcare Resource Service.  

The YMCA’s employer-supported childcare solutions program aims to partner with employers and ensure they are nurturing the needs of working parents by supporting them with childcare solutions.  

“By providing employer-sponsored childcare, employers can help families meet this critical need, transform company culture, and offer a competitive benefit that recruits and retains great staff for years to come,” adds Kim. 

This program aligns with The San Diego Foundation’s Strategic Plan priority to build resilient communities, which includes increasing access to quality early care and education for all working families – an essential element to the health, development and future success of San Diego children and the regional economy. 

Employers as Part of the Solution  

“It’s really a journey of understanding what being a family-friendly employer means and how community-based partnership can support the process,” Kim said of the program. With the first cohort of employers planned for 2022, YMCA of San Diego County is hoping to raise awareness about the childcare sector as it exists now and underscore the need for employers to play a more active role in providing childcare support for working parents. 

The 2020 Workforce + Childcare report emphasizes that we are losing parents from the workforce because they can’t find affordable childcare or are settling for low-quality care that isn’t good for the development of their children – our future workforce.  

The report also states that households with children where all parents are working make up 70 percent of San Diego families, and the average price of childcare for two young children in the San Diego region consumes 40% percent of the budget for a typical family of four. 

“Finding childcare without a baseline of information is extremely challenging for working families,” Kim added. The program will also ensure that employers are working together with parents to understand what quality care means for them, and to find solutions that best fit their unique situations including location of care, cultural humility and hours available. 

Partnering for Innovative Childcare 

Increased early childhood education opportunities for San Diego youth, as well as systems-level change, improve quality of life throughout the region and lead to a stronger economy and more vibrant communities.

The services provided by the YMCA’s program include comprehensive childcare planning and assistance paying for care.  

The YMCA is uniquely connected to 3,400 licensed family child are programs and 980 licensed childcare centers in San Diego, providing employers with a streamlined referral system that will help parents make the best decision for their families.  

In addition to helping staff apply for state-funded childcare payment assistance and create an employer-sponsored childcare payment program, the program also offers employers the opportunity to connect with Early Childhood Center – SAY San Diego to explore opening an on-site licensed childcare program.  

As part of The San Diego Foundation’s Early Childhood Initiative, SAY San Diego was funded to open their own workplace-based Early Childhood Center to offer accessible, affordable and high-quality childcare to its employees and other community members, and are now able to help others do the same. 

SAY San Diego aims to be a springboard for employers looking for practical ways to explore work-based childcare for their organization, and will work with employers to design, create and operate high-quality, on-site childcare centers to meet staff needs while attaining organizational goals.  

Increasing Employee Commitment and Loyalty 

Kim cited that employers can improve morale, presenteeism and retention when they make a proactive effort to support their employees with childcare.  

We know that parents must have childcare to work, and quality childcare lets parents work dependably with peace of mind. The YMCA’s employer-supported childcare solutions program will ensure more family-friendly jobs, a necessary call-to-action for improving the workforce-plus-childcare crisis.  

If you’re an employer looking to change the narrative around childcare for working families, or are interested in learning more about the program, visit the website

Learn more about The San Diego Foundation’s Early Childhood Initiative and commitment to increase access to affordable, quality early care for children in San Diego, strengthen families and support a competitive regional workforce.