During the early morning, Tonya Muhammad walks through the playground of her child care facility, making last inspections before children arrive. Photo by Zaydee Sanchez for CalMatters
The city of San Diego issued a request for information Monday to child care providers asking for their input on how it can potentially establish child care facilities on city-owned properties.
Last May, the Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee asked the city to identify properties owned by the municipality that could be turned into or made available for the construction of child care centers. The facilities assessment listed 72 sites, consisting of 18 libraries, 12 office buildings and 42 parks and recreation facilities.
“Affordable, quality child care has declined rapidly throughout the pandemic and has yet to fully recover,” said Councilman Raul Campillo, chair of the committee. “I requested that staff look at all city-owned properties to see which one or ones could be used or transformed into a space for child care so that the city can be part of the solution to add more child care slots for families.
“I am thrilled to see us taking this next step to bring a knowledgeable partner on board to help narrow down which spaces are suitable for a daycare,” he said.
The San Diego County YMCA found that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 522 of San Diego County’s providers closed — around 12% of the pre-pandemic total. As of March 2022, a number of those child care centers and providers had not yet reopened.
According to a report by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, 70% of San Diego families with children have all parents in the household working. The report also found that a San Diego family with two children and living on a median income can spend up to 40% of their monthly budget on child care.
“San Diegans are in dire need of child care and, since the city has the ability to house these services, we believe it’s important we get involved,” said Lucy Contreras, deputy director in the city’s Department of Real Estate and Airport Management. “This Request for Information is essential in making sure we understand what is needed to ensure potential future child care operators will create practical and safe facilities.”
The information gathered is intended to determine requirements necessary to potentially establish child care facilities on city property. The RFI is expected to close Sept. 16, and an request for proposals is expected to be issued next year. Anyone interested in submitting a response to the RFI must register at sandiego.gov/purchasing/bids-contracts/vendorreg.
The San Diego Municipal Code does not allow child care facilities on parks and recreation land, so on July 25, the City Council is expected to consider a potential ballot measure put forward by Councilman Chris Cate that would allow voters to change that.
City News Service contributed to this article.