One recent morning, 14-month-old Kallen Terlecky strolled through the living room of her Fallbrook home, screaming with joy.
Her cries are normal for a toddler but disrupt her mother’s work meetings.
Kimberly Terlecky works as an accountant from home and had planned to have Kallen in daycare. But all the slots in their rural North County area are taken.
“We’re on five waiting lists,” Terlecky said. “It stretches from here in Fallbrook to Oceanside. Everyone is reserved.
Terlecky and other Fallbrook parents live in the county’s largest childcare wasteland.
According to data from the YMCA of San Diego, there is only one licensed child care slot for every four children under age 5 in their area. Meanwhile, nearby Carlsbad, there is a slot for two children under 5.
“It’s not just in Fallbrook,” Terlecky said. “It’s Bonsall, Oceanside, Vista, Temecula. You might be lucky to get something in Temecula, but it’s a 30 minute drive from here.”
The need for childcare is crying out everywhere. Staffing shortages, rising costs and COVID-19 have forced one in eight child care businesses to close in San Diego County since March 2020. Additional challenges have compounded child care issues in the Fallbrook area.
“A lot of the buildings are older, and sometimes they don’t meet licensing regulations,” said owner Nikki Boles. Preschool buds and flowersone of the few preschools in the Fallbrook area.
At least seven other Fallbrook daycares have closed during COVID-19, according to state licensing data.
“Their suppliers were older and didn’t want to risk COVID, so they decided to retire,” Boles said.
The Fallbrook area’s proximity to Camp Pendleton means that many families with young children live there – and those children might not be supported by the military. The population of children under 5 in Fallbrook increased by 16% over the past 10 years — far exceeding overall population growth. And the supply of childcare services has not kept up with demand.
Boles is about to add 24 more slots, especially for infants.
“I didn’t advertise, I didn’t do anything, and I’ve had people come by and stop by to ask about the daycare and when it’s going to open,” he said. she stated. “So I have 20 families on a waiting list.”
Meanwhile, Fallbrook resident Dennis Ashworth takes on a new retirement project.
“I just realized the need to talk to parents about quality child care in the area,” he said.
So he and his wife decided to open a home daycare during COVID-19, calling it Family child care.
“Right now we have three kids under 2 and three kids over 2,” he said. “The phone is ringing non-stop with mothers with very young children looking for daycare.”
Providers such as Ashworth can apply to the San Diego County YMCA Child Care Resource and Referral Program for funding to help them obtain their child care license or extend their license, Laurie said. Han, Associate Program Director.
“Helping them open their license for the first time or expand their license to a large license,” she said. “Also if they want to move to non-traditional schedules or change the children they care for to include infants and toddlers.”
The YMCA of San Diego County has also released its babysitting desert dataas well as a heatmap showing where the needs are greatest, to help vendors decide where they could expand a business or developers decide where to build.
Ashworth has just extended his license to accommodate more children and said he is happy to use his energy and his home in Fallbrook to help families in his village.
“If we weren’t doing this, what would I be doing? ” He asked. “I was just sitting around getting old. So I think that keeps you young, and it’s kind of exciting every morning when the parents come in with the kids, and the kids are always excited, so that’s a good thing.
But he knows that adding a few more places in his home doesn’t change much of Fallbrook’s status as a childcare wasteland.