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April 24, 2002

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Kristina Loquist at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced that his bill to expand child care opportunities is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Local Government Committee today, April 24, 2002.

Simitian’s bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 2954, is designed to address the shortage in affordable child care that has plagued the South Bay and Midpeninsula for the past several years.  AB 2954 would require that the Land Use Element of future General Plans address the need for child care.

“It’s a simple idea,” said Simitian. “We just don’t have enough licensed spaces for the kids who need child care. If we want more child care, we need to make a place for it. And we should make it easier for child care operators to know where they can site new facilities. AB 2954 will help do just that.”

Jan Stokley, Executive Director, Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County, said, “The child care providers I know face great challenges finding the right place to locate a new facility. Having the interests of children and the need for child care addressed from the start is absolutely essential.”

Child care facilities often present a challenge to city planners when it comes to siting. Business owners in commercial districts have concerns about children being located next to a business that could later be considered a hazard to the children. And local residents in residential neighborhoods often express concern about traffic and noise impacts that may be associated with some facilities.

According to a needs assessment performed by the San Mateo County Child Care Coordinating Council (2000), only 25% of San Mateo County children who need child care are in licensed facilities.  The scarcity of spaces in licensed facilities, along with other factors, has resulted in child care costs in the Silicon Valley rising five times faster than household income over the past seven years.

Margo Dutton, Executive Director, Palo Alto Community Child Care, said, “AB 2954 is a great step forward in creating more child care openings. I’m pleased that Assemblymember Simitian is thinking about his youngest constituents.”

“It’s tough for working families to make ends meet in our Valley,” said Simitian. “Balancing work and family demands makes it that much tougher. If AB 2954 can give families one less thing to worry about, then I can feel good about my efforts.”

AB 2954 would amend the list of required items a city or county must address in its Land Use Element to include distribution of child care facilities. Examples of other items that currently must be addressed include housing, business, industry, open space, and education.