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Morning Brief: Save The Child Care, Save The World

Play areas divided by plastic barriers. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 18.

A lot of ink has been spilled in the past year about parents — mothers, mostly — hoping that the pandemic will have a silver lining: That policy-makers will finally understand how crucial child care is for society to function.

It’s not clear whether that lesson has been learned just yet, but as my colleague Mariana Dale reports, what is clear is that child care providers haven’t gotten the assistance they need — and many are shuttering facilities because of it.

Early childhood educators were struggling before the pandemic. Many who work in the industry make below minimum wage, and turnover is extremely high. But when COVID-19 hit, families with young children found themselves in incredibly unstable times. Would they keep their jobs? Could they even leave the house? And when families are unsure about their next steps, those who care for their children become unsure as well.

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Between the beginning of the pandemic and the end of January, more than 3,000 California childcare providers shut down. Thousands more closed temporarily, and many that remain open are at limited capacity. That means financial stress for their owners and employees, which trickles down to the kids they care for.

Some help has come in the form of state and federal funds, but in California, $1 billion in federal relief is still tied up in bureaucratic red tape, even as providers are forced to close their doors. And across the country, early childhood education providers aren’t being included in the first rounds of vaccinations.

All the while, parents who are stuck at home with their children, trying to operate as caregivers and teachers and, sometimes, hold down jobs as well, are far past their breaking point.

“I often feel trapped,” one local mother told us last month. “There are no places to go on field trips or little adventures. We don't have play dates or birthday parties or soccer practices. I'm even skeptical about grocery runs with all three of my kids — which makes this job all the more complicated.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go … Long Beach Is The Soft, Doughy Nexus Of LA's Bread Renaissance

The Nixtamal Queen, the panaderia's take on a kouign amman, from Gusto Bread. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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If you had told Kristin Colazas-Rodriguez five years ago that she would one day become a major player in the Long Beach bread scene, she probably would've rolled her eyes and shrugged it off.

After earning a bachelor's degree in history and economics from Cal State Long Beach, she spent three years working as a pastry cook, sous chef and bread baker, first in Los Angeles then in the San Francisco fine-dining world. The experiences were a crash course in the highs and lows of the restaurant business.

Colazas-Rodriguez loved the accessibility of breakfast pastries, so she began making danishes and croissants in borrowed kitchen spaces and selling them at local farmers' markets. She developed such a strong following for her France-meets-California creations that in the summer of 2019, she opened up a tiny cafe in San Pedro.

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