Blog | April 28, 2021

Early Childhood Programs are Critical for California's Rural Communities

Quality early care and education in rural communities can bolster public safety and revitalize the economy

In California’s migrant and agricultural communities, long work days and unconventional hours means our state’s youngest learners require a tailored approach to care and supervision. Without child care that addresses these needs, parents can’t go to work, remain productive, and build successful careers to better support their families.

A child who participates in higher-quality child care shows better language skills, which results in better academic performance later on in life and increases the chances of graduating from high school on time. All of which plays a part in which strengthening the current and future workforce and contributing to public safety and a strong economy.

Council for a Strong America member headshots

Families who live in rural communities are more severely impacted by unmet childcare needs. High-quality early childhood education and care helps address many of the challenges our rural communities face.

Tony Jordan, Executive Director - Stanislaus California Child and Family Services

Child poverty in rural California is both more severe and more persistent than in non-rural areas of the state, and there are also large racial and ethnic disparities. Overall, one-quarter of rural children under age five live in poverty. Counties with persistently high child poverty rates affect minority communities at disproportionate rates, and children of color within such counties have a poverty rate more than double that of non-Hispanic white children.

In California, 60% of the population live in child care deserts (where there are more than three children for every child care slot), though rural communities are most severely impacted by unmet childcare needs. Latino and Native American communities, specifically, are more likely than any other group to live in a child care desert.

The consequences of what happens when a child is very young can include outcomes that put that individual on the right or wrong path in life.

Chief Ruben Chavez, Gustine Police Department

Policymakers must support strategic investments for children in rural communities, specifically: early head start and childcare partnerships in rural communities, more resources to help our community recruit, train, and retain childcare providers, and business development support for childcare providers.

Children of color, especially Hispanic children who make up 53% of the population in Fresno, have very little chances of receiving early childhood education.

Sonia Arreguin, President - Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Unmet child care needs are a major issue across the state of California and specifically in some of our rural areas.

Sheriff Jeff Dirkse, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department

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