Understanding the Need for Early Learning Facilities

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Understanding the Need for Early Learning Facilities

In 2016, San Mateo County Human Services Agency retained the Brion Economics Team to conduct a comprehensive countywide needs assessment study for early learning facilities serving children ages 0 to 4 (infants, toddlers, and preschoolers). The study focused on current conditions of existing facilities, interest in expansion from current providers, potential financing methods and cost of facilities, and roles for various stakeholders.

Key findings from the Needs Assessment include:

  • In San Mateo County, currently a shortage of 3,000 infant spaces and almost 7,800 preschool spaces.
  • Across both age groups, 68% of demand currently met.
  • By 2025, shortfall rises to almost 14,000 spaces overall.
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Are interested in expanding their programs.


  • Difficulty finding a site
  • Lack of funding, and
  • Lack of qualified staff availability
  • While there are potential sites, most organizations do not have available resources to fund the development of child care centers.
  • Given the need for affordable housing and housing in general, finding sites for child care proves difficult. Strong demand for market rate housing and office development prices child care out of the market.

It will cost approximately

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To build facilities to meet the unmet demand.

Addressing the shortfall requires cross-jurisdictional, cross-sector leadership!

  • Local Government’s role in land use planning and permitting makes it instrumental in the development of new facilities and offers potential funding and policy strategies to address early learning facilities shortages.
  • Faith‐Based Organizations and School Districts have been and are likely to continue to be significant hosts of early learning programs and strategic partners.
  • Outreach to and education of large employers should be undertaken to encourage them to provide child care for their employees.
Categories: Data