BY KARA SHOEMAKER | August 7, 2020
Child care is a major expense for many working families in Santa Barbara County. For families already struggling to afford the high cost of living in our region, spending additional money on afterschool programs or center-based care for their children can be financially crippling. According to data collected by the 2017 SB County Child Care Needs Assessment, families with one infant and one preschool child spend 34 percent of their income on early care and education services. Additionally, 41 percent of their income goes towards housing, leaving little to cover expenses like food, clothing, car payments, or health care.
Fortunately, the William and Lottie Daniel Fund Child Care Scholarships (Daniel Fund) helps to remove the barrier of cost for families who cannot afford this essential expense. The Daniel Fund, which is administered under the Foundation’s Child Care focus area, provides scholarships to licensed nonprofit child care centers serving children 0-5 years of age and school-age children (grades TK-6).
Santa Barbara resident William M. Daniel established the Daniel Fund in 1997 with a gift of $1 million to the Santa Barbara Foundation. A philanthropist and devoted husband, William was moved by the death of Lottie Daniel, his wife of 56 years, and established the fund in her honor. William and Lottie had fled Nazi Germany together in the 1930s and immigrated to the United States, where they spent the remainder of their lives giving back to the communities that had welcomed them.
After two decades, the Daniel Fund continues to support families in our community. In 2020, the Foundation awarded a total of $288,500 in Daniel Fund Child Care Scholarships to 13 organizations across the county. These scholarships will allow 29 children in North County and 34 children in South County to attend a child care facility that would otherwise be inaccessible due to cost.
One scholarship recipient, St. Mary of the Assumption Preschool in Santa Maria, is a faith-based preschool that serves working families, including many essential workers in the agricultural industry, medical field, and law enforcement. Open year-round from 6:30am to 6:00pm, St. Mary’s provides a safe, inclusive environment for children of all faiths to learn and play while their parents are at work. The preschool is still open to serve families through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has scaled back enrollment from 57 to 30 children to ensure the safety of families and staff.
“There are some families that we serve that would not come without the scholarship; they wouldn’t be able to afford it,” said Mary Rowell, Preschool Director at St. Mary’s. “From the input I’ve received from families, they would otherwise need grandparents or a neighbor to watch the kids. Even working full-time, it’s just not enough between paying for rent or mortgage and full-time child care.”
“Many of the scholarship families are working full-time and don’t qualify for other help from the county because their income isn’t low enough, but at the same time, it’s not high enough to pay for full-time child care,” explained St. Mary’s Principal Michelle Cox. “We are so grateful that the scholarship is available to families, because there is such a great need, and for the opportunity to be a part of the scholarship program through the Santa Barbara Foundation.”
The William and Lottie Daniel Fund Child Care Scholarship program is one component of the Santa Barbara Foundation’s commitment to improving access to affordable child care in our communities. The Foundation also offers a Child Care Grant Program to support nonprofit child care providers and family support services in Santa Barbara County. In addition to our grant programs, we continue to engage with local partners to address the challenges of providing quality care for our youngest residents.
“Child care is essential for our workforce and society. Having access to quality and affordable child care is important for our collective future. The Foundation is committed to providing scholarships to providers and welcomes donations to increase the quality of care that is available to families in Santa Barbara County,” said Petra Gomez, Program Manager at the Santa Barbara Foundation.
To learn how you can help working families in Santa Barbara County, please visit our Child Care page.
William & Lottie Daniel Fund Child Care Scholarship 2020 Grantees
Channel Islands YMCA Office $23,520
Carpinteria Children’s Project $18,000
Girls Inc. of Carpinteria $15,367
Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara $10,800
Hope 4 Kids Early Learning Centers $31,320
Isla Vista Youth Projects, Inc. $35,760
Salvation Army – Santa Barbara Corps $7,800
SBEF-Santa Barbara Unified School District $16,425
Santa Maria Valley YMCA $32,340
St. Mary of the Assumption Preschool $27,360
St. Vincent’s $20,000
Storyteller Children’s Center, Inc. $27,408
Transition House $22,400