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SF voters may consider affordable childcare for all

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San Francisco voters may be asked next year whether The City should offer affordable childcare for all. (Courtesy photo)
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With parents spending thousands of dollars a year on childcare, voters may decide next year whether San Francisco will offer affordable childcare for all.

Supervisor Jane Kim on Tuesday asked the city controller to analyze the costs of providing universal childcare in San Francisco. Kim plans to introduce the proposal as a ballot measure for the November 2018 election.

The proposal comes as many families struggle to afford the high cost of living in San Francisco, and builds on Kim’s successful effort to pass a tax increase meant to fund free tuition at City College of San Francisco this year.

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“If we truly believe that families are the backbone of our city, then we all have to do what we can to hold onto them,” Kim said. “We can do better, and we have to.”

The average cost of full-time childcare for families with an infant in San Francisco ranges from $16,800 to $22,800 a year, according the Children’s Council San Francisco. For 4-year-olds, costs range from $14,400 to $18,000.

Kim wants to create a system that would reduce childcare costs for San Francisco families to just 10 percent of their income.

“We should act now to protect and advance the opportunities for those who are retaining and remaining in the middle class,” Kim said.

Kim said the effort could lead to better educational outcomes for children and help more mothers join the workforce.

Supervisor Norman Yee, who is cosponsoring the effort, pointed out that The City already has preschool for all children at free or reduced costs but said “we fell way short of the needs in San Francisco.”

“Whether the child is a 4-year-old or a 3-year-old or a 1-year-old, it doesn’t really matter,” Yee said. “We need to step up at this point.”

During World War II, the U.S. offered childcare six days a week at the cost of just $9 to $10 a day in today’s dollars.

“Once again San Francisco will step up and show the rest of the nation how it should be done to make this truly universal for all our families,” Yee said.

Kim has yet to identify a revenue stream for the effort.

Kim said the effort may be modeled after an Alameda County ballot measure expected to appear in the June 2018 election.

That proposal would be funded through a sales tax and cost between $65 million to $130 million a year, according to Kim.

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