In the policy world there is too often a debate over more slots or higher rates. This is a false divide. In San Francisco an informal survey conducted in 2016 showed that over 1/3 of the city’s sites had long-term open staff positions due to low wages—this prevented these sites from serving children. We cannot continue to increase slots without rates that cover the cost to provide them.
Quality early care and education is based in relationships. If the cost of a workforce caring for young children is not paid, stable and continuous relationships, the very foundation of quality, will not be established. No rating scale will force the quality without these basic needs being met. The bit of great quality care we have now comes from those who are passionate enough to sacrifice. In a recent community discussion on the issue, the group realized every provider in the room was either married to someone willing to support them, had their own source of funds, or was willing to make do on little in a way they knew others couldn’t. As the wealth divide increases nationally, and the cost of living and housing increases in cities like San Francisco, whatever sustainability was, breaks down.