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BEACON: Building Equity and Access

to Childcare Now


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The BEACON Project is an innovative collaboration among prominent San Diego regional partners: SAY San Diego, UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies (DES), UC San Diego Child Development Center, and YMCA of San Diego County (YMCA). 

BEACON is designed as a catalyst for change to reimagine and grow the infrastructure and workforce needed to provide high-quality, affordable, and ample childcare to meet the enormous unmet needs of families in our region. Efforts to date have not been sufficient to meet demand. We aim to bring our influence and expertise to support bold and urgent action in San Diego County. By combining subject matter expertise and a sense of urgency, the partners envision that our resulting efforts in Southern California will serve as a model for the nation's programs and corporate training.

Assessment of Need

Early childhood, particularly the first five years of life, impacts long-term social, cognitive, emotional, and physical development (ODPHP, 2020). High-quality early childhood development programs benefit all children but disproportionately impact children with the fewest resources, placing the programs among the more compelling policy tools for fighting poverty and reducing inequality (Brookings). Despite its proven impact, affordable childcare is not easily accessible, and 77% of San Diego parents report challenges finding care. The lack of high-quality, affordable childcare is a well-documented problem, which became particularly acute during the COVID-19 crisis and has adversely impacted working families, child development, the current and future workforce, and our local and global economy.

 The problem is large and complex – so must be the solutions.

Goals and Methods

The BEACON Project seeks to achieve and sustain over the long term the following goals: 

  • Increase Supply of High Quality, Affordable Childcare to Meet Demand
    • Build on major efforts such as the childcare mapping done by the Y to assess where availability exists in the current system and match areas of high demand (e.g., UCSD and Navy waitlists, working parents throughout the region).
    • Build on the work the partners have done to date to promote and expand employer-supported childcare.
    • Build on the work the partners have done over decades to collaborate with the public sector to provide neighborhood and school-based childcare (e.g., SDUSD; City, etc.).
    • Explore the potential to co-locate childcare in other locations where it may be most needed, for example in affordable and low-income housing communities, in overnight settings for healthcare workers and other first responders.
    • Pursue and develop new funding streams and investments from traditional and non-traditional partners. 
  • Strengthen the Workforce by Enhancing Career Pathways and Advocating for Competitive Wages and Benefits
    • Build on the expertise and reach of UCSD DES and the other partners in child development to enhance career pathways and train new employees in early child development, ages 0-3;
    • Close professional/workforce development gaps to better serve military families and other specialized populations.
    • Provide early childhood certification/licensure through UCSD DES.
    • Inform and expand the local, state, and national conversations around childcare wage and benefits competitiveness. 
  • Ensure Wraparound Support for Parents in all Childcare Settings
    • Childcare-to-home continuity/wraparound services for parents and caregivers.
    • Ensure infrastructure and resources for meaningful whole-family support.
    • Deliver wraparound services in Spanish and other languages as needed.

Call to Action

  •  Advocacy and Appropriations: In partnership with the Children First Collective San Diego, we will support policy advocacy and appropriations that align resources to further the identified goals and improve equity and access to childcare in San Diego County. 
  • Identifying New Solutions: Together we will identify innovative, cross-sector solutions to childcare challenges and support action-oriented conversations to further our goals, partnering with policymakers, employers, higher education, philanthropy, service providers, and many others. 
  • Pilot Projects and Evaluation: When appropriate, we will pilot identified solutions and evaluate their impact, sharing findings with stakeholders to inform further action.
We welcome you to partner with us! We would love to hear from you if you have ideas to share or resources that could help move this work forward!

Beacon Members

 UC San Diego 

  • Ed Abeyta, Associate Dean, Education and Community Outreach, Division of Extended Studies
  • Morgan Appel, Assistant Dean, Education and Community Outreach, Division of Extended Studies
  • Amie Karscig, Associate Director, Education and Community Outreach, Division of Extended Studies
  • Josh Kavanagh, Executive Director, TAPS: Triton Auxiliary Programs & Services
  • Angelica Navarro, Program Manager, Education and Community Outreach, Division of Extended Studies

 SAY San Diego

  • Nancy Gannon Hornberger, President & CEO
  • Martin Huici, Social Enterprise Manager
  • Chris Jewell, Vice President, Child & Youth Development

 YMCA of San Diego County

  • Kim McDougal, Senior Vice President of Social Services, YMCA Childcare Resource Service
  • Shelly McTighe-Rippengale, Executive Vice-President and Chief Mission Advancement Officer
  • Tina Williams, Director of Strategic Collaborations

About Our Organizations

SAY San Diego: For over 50 years, SAY San Diego has offered programs which strengthen the whole child, the whole family, and the whole community. From before- and after-school programs and early childhood services to therapy services for youth and adults, to support for key populations, like the region’s local military families, SAY San Diego strives to make sure that every San Diegan can get the help they need, whenever and wherever they need it. 

UC San Diego: UC San Diego Division of Extended Studies works with partners to provide a range of public programs that enhance quality of life. UC San Diego is committed to strengthening the career pathways and professional development available for the childcare workforce and conducting applied research to inform childcare innovations. UC San Diego also operates the Early Childhood Education Center to serve children of UC San Diego students, faculty, and staff. 

YMCA of San Diego County: For 140 years, the YMCA of San Diego County has served the community with a focus on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The YMCA provides preschool, early-learning readiness, and before-and-after-school programs for each stage of a child’s development and currently operates 8 preschools stretching from Oceanside to City Heights. Our Childcare Resource Service is the county’s state-designated childcare resource and referral agency, supporting families searching for quality, affordable, and convenient childcare. 


We stand for equity, access, inclusion, belonging, and justice in everything we do.