Residents of Alameda County have made a clear statement about the need to support both working parents and early childhood educators by allocating more resources to provide quality affordable child care.
Early post-election results indicate overwhelming support for Measure C, the Alameda County Care for Kids Ballot Initiative. County officials will continue tallying mail-in votes for the next few weeks, but as of now, more than 60 percent of voters cast their vote in favor of the initiative. So far, the measure won a simple majority and could be challenged in the courts if the measure does not pass with a two-thirds majority.
A total of 408,034 ballots were cast for the March 3 election and more than 322,000 of those were done via mail. As of March 18, over 286,000 of the ballots voted Yes on measure C.
This is great news for working parents, early childhood educators, and those who advocate on behalf of supporting children whose families have limited access to child care or preschool programs.
“Measure C landed on the ballot after a largely grassroots effort, led by dedicated community volunteers, spearheaded an outreach and education campaign to Alameda County residents. This unprecedented action indicates how critical this is for our families,” said Clarissa Doutherd, executive director of Parent Voices Action in a recent letter to the editor in East Bay Times.
The initiative landed on the ballot after a grassroots effort led by a group of dedicated volunteers—mostly women of color—who spearheaded an outreach and education campaign driven by one-on-one interactions with residents. Volunteers knocked on doors in every neighborhood, explaining the importance of this initiative and encouraging residents to get out and vote in favor of it.
Those efforts helped garner more than 86,000 signatures in fall 2019 for the petition to move the proposal forward, far exceeding the minimum number required to include it in the election. In the documentation submitted as part of their proposal at that time, supporters who pushed for this initiative noted that “only 31 percent of Alameda County children with working parents have access to a space in a licensed childcare, preschool or early education setting, according to the most recent California Child Care Portfolio.” The petition also noted that full-time infant care in the region cost more than tuition at University of California, Berkeley, which costs more than $14,000 for in-state students.
If enacted, Measure C would implement a 20-year half-percent sales tax. The revenue from this sales tax would support critical programs such as increasing access to high quality, affordable child care and preschool. A portion of the revenue generated would also go towards the Pediatric Health Care Account, which would help protect the healthcare safety net and Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center.
Studies have shown that kids who have access to quality early-childhood programs are better prepared for kindergarten and perform better in school than students who didn’t have access to such resources.
In Alameda County, the scarcity of affordable child care has consequences that hurt the children involved. Only 44 percent of Alameda County children entered kindergarten fully ready for school, according to the most recent School Readiness in Alameda County report.
This legislation would also support the region’s child care workers, who perform challenging work that has a significant impact on the community. Like the volunteers who helped make this initiative a reality, many of the local childcare workers are also women of color. These workers deserve to get paid a fair wage for the valuable services they provide to hard-working families in the area.