Education leaders seek collaboration to build equitable support programs
By Sierra Lopez Daily Journal correspondent Jun 29, 2020
Parents preparing for a return to the office following a broader county health order are now faced with weighing the benefits of enrolling their children in child care services against the existing financial burden of programs and potential exposure to COVID-19.
“If there’s going to be a workforce recovery we need to solve this child care issue. [Employers] recognize parents are more distracted,” said Rod Hsiao, a trustee on the San Mateo County Board of Education. “Long term, if we see a worsening of the learning loss in young children that’s going to really hurt our ability to build a workforce for our community in the future. All families should care about this child care gap.”
Hsiao is also the founder and CEO of InPlay, a nonprofit aimed at connecting youth to summer and after-school programs outside of the county. Hsiao said out-of-school programs play an integral role in child development noting a child could fall two grade levels behind their peers by the fifth grade in terms of math and reading skills by not participating in such programs.
Although programs have proven to be beneficial to a child’s development, many of these programs have continued to rise in cost, creating an equity issue for low income earners and their children, said Hsiao. Following a rise in the cost of living in San Mateo County, parents and various education based organizations have long raised concerns for accessible child care. Now exacerbating the issue is an economic downturn brought on by a global pandemic.
“This is a huge equity issue and we know that parents often think there are a lot of government funded programs ... but subsidized programs only serve 10% of California,” said Hsiao. “And 60% of low-income families need subsidized programs. We never met the need for families who needed it and wanted it.”