San Diego offers innovative day care program for police


(NewsNation) — San Diego, hoping to bolster its police force, will offer its officers an innovative, partially subsidized child care program, according to reports.

Approved by the City Council, the new program will assist officers with children younger than 5 from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. The facility will be built in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego.

“Four years ago in 2018, we had a member reach out to us and they needed assistance with child care. And so when we heard that member needed help, we wanted to do something about it. So we did,” Lt. Brian Avera, the director of San Diego’s Police Officers Association, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” Thursday.

Although temporily stalled by COVID-19, Avera says the SDPOA knew an initiative of this kind was important to their members.

“We just put one foot in front of the other and that brings us today, where on Monday the San Diego City Council unannimously passed this so we can move forward with our project,” Avera sad.

The services are not only geared toward helping parents in the department navigate their oftentimes unfavorable work hours — a San Diego Police Officers Association survery found that 59 percent of officers either missed or had to leave work due to child-care issues not related to illness — but to assist in alleviating child care expenses.

“Within the San Diego Police Department, our officers predomintly start at 6 a.m. Traditioanlly you drop off your children more around 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. So we’re going to have more hours so that our officers can actually utilize this resource,” Avera said. “Beyond that, we also have detectives, that, at any time, they can be called out — morning, evening, any time of the day,” he continued.

To do so, SDPD partnered with KinderCare, which will be providing services to law enforcement officers at half the market rate. Additionlly, day care workers at the Kearny Mesa facility will be paid 20% extra, the city says.

The program’s funding is made possible by state grants and the KinderCare and the Cushman Foundation’s Making a Difference for San Diego grant program, which will help aborb the estimated $3.7 million pricetag for the first three years.

The incentives are, in part, to help attract new talent as police departments across the country are struggling to retain existing officers and recruit new ones, causing severe staffing shortages that are leaving communities around the country vulnerable.

This comes amid a wave of growing violence, as many cities are now trying to navigate how to maintain public safety while also addressing the calls to reform and “defund” the police sparked by George Floyd’s murder. Activists are seeking to have police budgets reallocated to other services.

SDPD has felt the pinch, as well. In hopes of bolstering recruitment, the San Diego City Council approved an extra $15,000 signing bonus for incoming police officers from other California cities.

“This is good because this will help us recruit officers into the San Diego Police Department. And then once people come to serve and protect in America’s eighth largest city, this will help us retain them, as well,” Avera said.

According to a YMCA of San Diego Childcare Resource Service report released last year, roughly 12% of child care providers closed since the start of the pandemic.

It’s to be seen whether the new legislation will help mitigate the citiy’s police staffing shortages and the child care woes. City officials are hoping to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone.

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