Establish program with institutions and other major employers to scale up the provision of child care throughout Oakland as a talent attraction and retention tool that benefits residents. Solutions should consider after school tutoring and activities to support children of all ages in Oakland and supplement academic programs.
- Oakland lacks sufficient supportive services and amenities to attract and retain families to live here. Noted throughout the planning process were a lack of early care and education programs (child care), schools, and after school programs for the children of Oakland residents to serve the 476 children under the age of 15 identified in the Existing Conditions Report (2020).
- Although the number of daily visitors to Oakland prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was nearly 75% that of Pittsburgh’s Downtown, there are comparatively few publicly available child care providers in Oakland.
- Child care centers that exist in Oakland today are often provided by the institutions for use by their employees and are unable to meet the high demand among that limited portion of Oakland’s employee population, let alone the resident population.
- Development trends and the Oakland Plan call for increasing employment and residential densities. There is collective desire to see the share of families in the neighborhood increase.
- The University of Pittsburgh are currently developing programs and housing opportunities with the express goal of having more employees live and work in Oakland.
- UPMC has been working on the issue of child care for its employees. Seeing some trends emerge from the pandemic that in-home child care service is becoming a more popular option across multiple pay scales and job types. Depending on income, these costs may be shared with other families. To some extent this appears to be replacing what has been done by family members in the past.
- The University of Pittsburgh currently offers a premium membership for faculty and staff to Care.com and related support.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has changed some aspects of activities taking place in Oakland and the long-term implications of reduced demand for workers traveling to Oakland is unknown. What is known is that pandemic restrictions have resulted in a decline in the number of child care facilities in operation.
- At the time this plan was created, the US Congress was working to pass the Build Back Better Framework which could dramatically expand access to early childhood programs. Under consideration is $400 billion for universal preschool and affordable child care and extensions for the child tax credit through 2022 and a paid family leave provision.
- If passed, one consequence would be an expanded demand for preschool unlike what has been seen in the past. Cities and employment areas that are able to respond to the demand by rapidly increasing the supply of publicly available preschool options would have a competitive advantage over areas where preschool remains unavailable.
- With Oakland’s existing institutions and employment based programs, the groundwork is there for scaling up the provision of qualified child care workers, supporting the launch of new child care businesses, and identifying locations throughout the neighborhood that can provide convenient access to employees and residents alike.
- Prioritize slots for Oakland residents and prioritize employment opportunities for Oakland residents at childcare centers.
- Local seniors may be great as caretakers.
- Establish a committee with institutions, major employers, and OPDC to fully describe the supply chain issues that have limited the provision of child care services (infant/toddler care, prekindergarten, and school age wrap around care) in Oakland and how the federal bill may change these conditions.
- This work should integrate credit-bearing early childhood professional training programs and may require the expansion of enrollment for these programs inclusive of the establishment of a pipeline between students in these programs and child care programs in Oakland. This helps to ensure Oakland-based child care centers have a consistent supply of qualified graduates.
- An additional element of this program should be small business supportive services that are already provided by University-based centers like the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh. Programming should focus on helping experienced child care providers start up new centers and provide supportive services to improve the rate of success for these new small businesses.
- Special effort should be given to attracting minority, immigrant, and female entrepreneurs into programs and the pipeline efforts. The provision of services in multiple languages and advertising programs in culturally appropriate venues can help increase the uptake of these programs by these different groups.
- A key component of providing affordable child care is ensuring that providers not only accept Child Care Works child care subsidies (as provided by the state) but also retain a percentage of their capacity to for families utilizing the subsidy. Additionally, it’s critical we understand what percentage of enrolled families are currently utilizing them in Oakland-based child care programs. This ensures that those utilizing subsidies have access, but also helps paint a picture of how many lower income families are able to find child care options in Oakland today.
- Oakland’s high concentration of healthcare employees means that their needs should be carefully considered. For example, UPMC’s research shows that hours of operation are key given that many staff work three 12-hour work days each week. Second shift workers need hours to meet their schedules. Night shift is often covered by a partner, but this should be investigated further to make sure this isn’t an issue for single parents. The three-day work week also means healthcare workers need child care only during these days, but many providers require commitments of 4-5 days per week. These dynamics could be driving the trend UPMC found towards in-home care providers.
- In-home care providers can be part of the solution, but may fail to meet a variety of needs including services for children with special needs and associated facilities which are typically only found in brick-and-mortar operations.
- Programmatic solutions should consider after school tutoring and activities to support children of all ages in Oakland and supplement academic programs. Doing so can help to overcome the highly fractured nature of neighborhood children’s experiences who are often bused out of the neighborhood for school. There are some recent examples from West and South Oakland that have been successful, and people want to expand.
- Supporting this strategy, rezoning projects in Oakland should expand where Child care (Limited) and Child care (General) uses are permitted by right.
- This work should be linked to implementation of the Community Service Hubs strategy.
- The Department of Mobility and Infrastructure should be involved in the planning of new facilities from an early stage to ensure that there are sufficient loading zones nearby, and that there are safe and comfortable pedestrian crossings for families.
When to start: 0-2 years
Estimated costs: $$$ (out of $$$$)
Project lead(s): Trying Together, OPDC, UPMC
Project partner(s): Institutions, OBID
Potential funding source(s): Federal infrastructure bill, institutions