The California Department of Social Services launched a new childcare portal today, allowing parents to search by zipcode for childcare providers closest to them.
The portal shows users a list of options, vetted by the state, and features includes information on each facilities’ capacity as well as their health and safety records.
“Childcare has been a huge challenge,” Governor Gavin Newsom said at Thursday’s media briefing. “Sixty-three percent of licensed childcare facilities in the state have been impacted from this crisis.”
“There are still areas, that if you have your zipcode there, we recognize not a lot of centers will pop up,” he added. “That’s on us to do more and do better in that space.”
A total of 432 pop-up facilities have been strategically placed throughout the state as part of this initiative, said Newsom, giving parents options with schools closed until fall.
The state has secured $100 million for childcare, half of which provides vouchers to subsidize services for 20,000 families in need, while the other half has been earmarked for facilities to ensure that they have sufficient sanitation and protective equipment for children and workers.
Newsom said that this money and perhaps some of the $350 million the state has received from the federal CARES Act will help provide equitable childcare access and resolve some of the “childcare deserts” that still exist.
“We know that childcare keeps California working,” said Department of Social Services Director Kim Johnson at the press conference. “It also provides that critical enrichment and activity for supporting the health and development of children.”
“You can’t have a workforce unless they’re taking care of their children, and are confident in the quality of that care,” Newsom said.
A direct link to the portal is also available at the state’s COVID-19 response website.