As parents, we make choices every day, and some of them are harder than others: pay the increasingly expensive cost of child care or have enough money to pay this month’s rent? 

According to a recent Fast Company article, families across the nation face this dilemma, and the reality is even starker for San Diego families who face child care costs at approximately 60% above the national average – $15,513 annually for full-time infant care1  – and rents that cost families at least 40% of their annual income2, on average.

High-quality child care and early learning set the foundation for success in school and beyond, but the cost is undoubtedly a problem. What are the solutions?

As the only State-funded agency that connects parents to more than 5,000 child care providers in San Diego County, YMCA Childcare Resource Service (CRS) works to ensure that parents can find and afford high quality early care and education opportunities that meet their families’ needs. 

Help with Finding Quality Early Care and Education
    The first big step in accessing high-quality early learning is knowing your options. YMCA CRS has the largest and most up-to-date database of all licensed child care providers in San Diego County, and advisors can help you search that database by your specific needs. This enables families to find programs in their area that are open when they need them, and that meet specific language and other care needs. 

Families with children who have behavioral, developmental, or other special needs are guided by an advisor who will call child care providers directly to find out which programs have openings and can meet the family’s specific requirements.

Help with Affording Quality Early Care and Education
Support is also available for families through state-funded child care subsidy programs. Through the Alternative Payment and Foster Care Bridge programs, we help ensure that parents and caregivers who face financial limitations, access public benefits, care for foster children, or have other high needs are able to find the right child care arrangement that allows them to work and provide for their families. 

At the same time, we help families connect with other community resources. Our staff and resources encompass a variety of cultural perspectives and languages of the families we serve, and the dual approach provides an immediate benefit for parents while also ensuring children in those families have the developmental foundation for academic and social success as early as possible. 

Supporting Child Care and Early Learning Providers to Achieve and Maintain Quality 
YMCA CRS provides a wide variety of supports to early care and education providers to achieve and maintain quality. This includes providing training, coaching, technical assistance, toys and resources, and more to early childhood educators across the county. 
We partner with the San Diego County Office of Education to engage providers in the San Diego Quality Preschool Initiative (QPI), to build quality in key areas like adult-child interactions, quality learning environments, developmental screenings and referrals to services, and more.  Learn more about QPI at

Lifting Up San Diego’s Needs 
YMCA CRS also speaks up on behalf of the thousands of child care providers, parents and children we serve. Every day, we talk to parents who are unable to find or afford programs with demonstrated quality, so we know that our state’s early care and education system does not guarantee that all children enter school ready to succeed.

We share these stories and educate state leaders to help them improve the system so that children of every economic, cultural, and linguistic background have access to quality experiences that prepare them for success in school and in life. 

The YMCA exists to ensure that all children reach their fullest potential and knows that expanding access to affordable, quality child care for families of all income brackets will make a lasting difference in the lives of children and the future of our community. For more information about YMCA Childcare Resource Service and the work we’re doing to support working families and the improving the quality of care for their children, visit us here.