Guest Editor’s Introduction

Since 2008, I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors for the Marin Childcare Council (or “MC3”) and I have served as Board President since 2013. Over the past decades, a broad consensus has developed among economists and even politicians that providing access to high-quality early childhood learning programs is the most effective way to level the playing field for children from all social backgrounds, and the best way to help all children be prepared to succeed in school and in life.

In our County, MC3 serves as the focal point between preschools and daycare providers, parents, and the State and County. Under the leadership of Aideen Gaidmore, MC3 strives every day to provide access to high quality early childhood education to all the children of Marin County.—Tim Nardell

Quality Child Care should be Available to all Families in Our Community

In 1979, a group of concerned citizens that included childcare providers, parents, and representatives of family-service agencies founded the Marin Child Care Council, also known as MC3. They formed MC3 in response to a growing need in the community for a central clearinghouse for information, referrals, and coordination in the areas of childcare and children’s services. The agency has grown substantially since its inception to include not only child care resources and referrals for parents, but also child care provider training and support, subsidies for low-income working families and grassroots advocacy work aimed at protecting and enhancing child care subsidies.

MC3 is a community-based non-profit agency that is primarily funded by contracts from the California Department of Education and the County of Marin, and by grants from the Marin Community Foundation and private donors. The Marin Child Care Council is founded on the principle that high-quality and readily available childcare is essential in supporting a family’s economic success and each child’s educational success.

Fundamental to our mission is helping Marin County families in locating and funding suitable child care. Our diverse and dedicated team of 15 staff members works with families in a supportive and compassionate way to guide parents through the child care subsidy voucher process. We offer parental support, including training in parenting skills, and one-on-one referrals so families can find the right child care program that suits their needs. We provide parents with the information and resources they need to help identify what quality care is, including a checklist of what to look for. MC3 provides financial support through State and County-funded voucher payments for child care. While providing this crucial service, we also support families in a way that respects their diverse needs and situations as well as their values and culture.

Another of our core services is supporting child care partners in working to improve the quality of pre-kindergarten education. We provide early childhood educators with training, support, resources and referrals to increase the quality of care in their programs. MC3 is unique in that we serve not only as a resource for parents and educators, but also provide the community with up-to-date data on child care needs and issues. We have developed strong connections and work collaboratively with all areas of Marin’s child care infrastructure, and we provide leadership countywide around the needs of children and families.

Paying for Child Care can be Difficult for Many

MC3 also manages the centralized eligibility list for the County of Marin that tracks the number of families who are eligible for subsidized child care but who are waiting due to lack of funds. With 24.8 percent of children in Marin living at or below two hundred percent of the federal poverty level (a maximum income of $47,700 for a family of four), there is a huge need for help with child care funding.

The cost of child care in Marin County is extremely high, making it nearly prohibitive for many poor and working class families to access good care. The average annual cost for infant care is $18,000 and for preschool care $13,000. The cost is actually the highest in the Bay Area. Yet Marin has the lowest amount of subsidized care in the State in comparison to the County’s population. For many families, subsidized child care is their gateway out of poverty.
MC3 currently serves 382 families with 564 children in different voucher-based programs.

Unfortunately, as of July 2017, we still have 767 children on the waitlist for subsidized child care in Marin County. This year alone, we have provided referrals to over 800 parents; we have 75 family child care providers enrolled in our training programs, focusing on infant/toddler care; and we have given training and assistance to over 1,000 child care professionals and parents on all areas of child development.

To learn more about MC3, visit its website.