Robb Field, OB Rec Center and Point Loma Library being looked at for use as child-care facilities
Three city of San Diego properties in the Point Loma-Ocean Beach area have been included on a list of sites under consideration for child-care facilities as part of an initiative to regain child-care access lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ocean Beach’s Robb Field athletic area, the OB Recreation Center and the Point Loma/Hervey Library are among 72 eligible properties being reviewed by the city Department of Real Estate and Airport Management.
Data gathered by the YMCA Childcare Resource Service between March 2020 and December 2021 show that close to 10 percent of licensed child-care centers have permanently closed as a result of the pandemic, further exacerbating the difficulty of access to child care for families.
According to Courtney Baltiyskyy of YMCA CRS, the deficit of access to licensed child care in City Council District 2, which includes Point Loma and Ocean Beach, is higher than the deficit throughout San Diego County. About 20 percent of children have access to such care in District 2, leaving an 80 percent deficit of access, Baltiyskyy said. The deficit of access is around 70 percent for the county.
“To lose that percentage of our licensed slots and capacity puts us in a really devastating situation, especially for working families trying to adapt to this next normal as we experience COVID as an endemic issue,” Baltiyskyy said.
District 2 Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell said she fully supports any action to improve child-care options.
“I look forward to hearing back from staff on what options and opportunities we might have as a city to make headway on this vital issue,” Campbell said.
A significant hurdle for access to child care is the cost of services. A recent report by the San Diego Workforce Partnership states that 40 percent of San Diego families with two children and living on median income spend up to 40 percent of their monthly income on child care.
According to maps compiled from recent census data by San Diego for Every Child, a nonprofit initiative housed by Jewish Family Service of San Diego, as many as 1,700 children in Ocean Beach and Point Loma are eligible for subsidized child care.
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Erin Hogeboom, director of policy and strategy for San Diego for Every Child, said child care is crucial for the functioning of the local economy.
“COVID has decimated our child-care sector, making it more important than ever for municipalities and the county to do what they can to support child-care supply through facilities and workforce support,” Hogeboom said.
In regard to using Robb Field and the Ocean Beach Recreation Center as child-care facilities, their charters would need to be amended to include educational purposes as part of their official function. That would require a ballot initiative.
“As the charters stand, ‘education’ or licensed early care and learning is not an approved usage of the space,” Baltiyskyy said. “If [such a ballot initiative] passes, we would be able to activate those sites and then think about funding mechanisms for community providers to come in and operate the space to create more slots for licensed child care.”
The city’s real estate department is drafting a request for information to publicly solicit child-care providers to identify potential operators and determine the feasibility of each potential site. The report is expected in late spring or early summer.
YMCA CRS partners with Children First Collective San Diego, an advocacy group that works toward child-care solutions. The collective holds public meetings the third Thursday of every month for local families to share their experiences. For more information, visit sdchildrenfirst.org.