Bonta Introduces Bill to Make Quality and Accessible Child Care Permanent in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) has introduced AB 1294, to make permanent two child care subsidy pilot projects in Alameda and Santa Clara counties.

Prior legislation, AB 833 (Bonta, 2015) and AB 2368 (Gordon, 2016) established five-year individualized county child care subsidy pilot plans which maximized allocated funding and efficiently used child care subsidy funds to provide children and families access to quality child care. The pilot enabled Alameda County to retain an estimated $5 million in Fiscal Year 2017-18 and serve more than 12,000 children. Greater than half (53%) of these children who received the care were Hispanic/Latino, with Black or African American and Asian children representing the second and third largest segments. In 2019, the Santa Clara County pilot served 10,228 children. More than 50% of the children served under this pilot came from families at or under 50% of the state median income.

“Child care is a crucial service, not only for families, but for communities, and our overall economy as well,” said Bonta. “Smart child care infrastructure like these pilot projects has proven to be effective at helping low-income families while also efficiently using state funding. That’s why I’m committed to ensuring these two pilot programs become permanent. Making this change won’t cost the state more money and it’s particularly important during the pandemic when we need to boost our economy and support hard-working families.”

The pandemic has intensified the demands on our County’s high cost child care programs. During this time of crisis, the pilot’s flexibilities are needed to support our children, families, and essential workers, as well as to sustain our child care infrastructure,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.

“Santa Clara County has one of the highest reported costs of living nationally, which has strained the ability of the region to provide quality child care options, especially for lower income working families,” said Robert Menicocci, Director of the Social Services Agency for Santa Clara County. “Our subsidized child care pilot provides our County flexibility to design our subsidy rules and simplify child care contracting as it relates to eligibility and reimbursement rates, as well as the ability to transfer funds among contractors. Pilot-authorized flexibility will remain a key tool in moving toward a more sustainable child care network through the pandemic recovery.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges our county’s working families face. While using existing funds, continuation of our pilot program will help us to meet the local needs, conditions and priorities of our community and assist some of our most vulnerable residents,” said Supervisor Mike Wasserman, President of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.

“This change is critical for our economic recovery with no increased county or state costs,” said Lori Cox, Agency Director for Alameda County Social Services Agency. “Child care programs struggle to maintain viability in our high-cost region and our subsidized pilot has helped pioneer program changes which have benefited contracted child care programs statewide.”

AB 1294 is sponsored by Alameda County and Santa Clara County.

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Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and is the Assistant Majority Leader.