In June, San Francisco voters passed Proposition C, Early Care and Education for All Initiative, to make child care affordable and accessible for San Francisco families. This initiative will provide free childcare to 2,500 of San Francisco’s lowest-income families currently on the waitlist, provide childcare subsidies for middle-income families for the first time, and increase the wages of early care educators, some of the lowest paid in our local workforce. San Francisco has often led the way for our nation and we have done it again— Proposition C will be the single largest investment any U.S. city has made for childcare.
Instead of celebrating this historic win, San Francisco’s largest corporate landlords, represented by the Building Owners Management Association (BOMA), have filed suit and is ready to spend millions in a lawsuit to take away this historic win AND our vote.
Despite benefiting from a booming economy and Trump tax breaks, these corporate commercial landlords may refuse to pay their fair share. This childcare initiative will raise over $140 million in revenue by modestly increasing major office building’s gross receipts tax to 3.5 percent to match the national average (they are currently paying .03 percent — yes, you read that right, that’s point zero three percent).
Further, research shows that investing in childcare benefits our businesses. Recently, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has issued two separate reports on the case for high-quality child care, citing research showing that when companies provide support for child care, employee absences decrease by up to 30 percent, job satisfaction increases and employee retention increases as much as 60 percent. In fact, an average business with 250 employees can save $75,000 per year in lost work time. 85 percent of employers report that providing child care services improves employee recruitment. 49 percent of employers reported that child care services helped boost employee productivity.
Nationally, research has shown that family friendly policies would allow roughly 5.5 million more women to work, generating $500 billion annually in economic growth for our nation, or about 3.5 percent of gross domestic product.
One of the largest challenges for working families is the exorbitant cost of child care. In fact, the average childcare tuition in San Francisco is greater than tuition at UC Berkeley. Further, research shows that childcare is not only an investment in our current workforce productivity but also in the future workforce of America. 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs by the age of five— high quality pre-K education significantly improves academic, health and life outcomes for the same children later in life.
Investing in childcare is an investment in our economy.
In a high-cost city like San Francisco where 75 percent of families have two adults who are working, child care is a necessity. Early education keeps parents earning and children learning. This Labor Day, as we recognize our workers, BOMA and its members, should seize this opportunity to become a champion for our families, many of whom work in their buildings, and our City’s economy. We call on BOMA to join us in making San Francisco one of the best cities for our workers and families. This is a win for all of us.
Parent Voices is a parent led, parent-run child care advocacy group in San Francisco (with other chapters in various counties in California) which believes that access to quality affordable early education is the foundation for children’s lifelong love of learning, stability for families, and a robust, inclusive economy. www.parentvoices.org