The real cost of child care: How California’s subsidy system falls short for families and providers

This story was originally published in The San Diego Union-Tribune with support from the 2022 National Fellowship.

California has several subsidized child care programs that help families pay for child care and fund many of the state’s tens of thousands of child care providers.

But that aid reaches only a small fraction of families who need it — and providers, who aren’t paid enough to cover their costs, remain stretched to the limit. Much of the money that is set aside for child care, meanwhile, doesn’t even go to use.

In this five-part series, to be published throughout January, San Diego Union-Tribune education reporter Kristen Taketa examines how the system is falling short, and who is paying the price. Check back throughout January for the latest stories.