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Alameda County, California: City Economic Impact of Child Care

Project status

Completed 2002

Lead Agency

County of Alameda General Services Agency

Contact Person

Ellen Dektar
Angie Garling
Alameda Co Child Care Coordinator
General Services Agency
1401 Lakeside Drive
10th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Research Firm

1998 report: NEDLC
2002 report: Shelby McCulley, consultant to Alameda County LINCC and General Services Agency


  • Number of Establishments
  • Child Care Labor Force
  • Children Served
  • Gross Receipts
  • Multiplier Effects on Local Economy
  • Governmental Transfers / Subsidies


  • Long Report (15+ Pages)
  • Stand-Alone Executive Summary/Brochure
  • Newspaper Article / Media Coverage
  • Conducted a Series of Presentations
  • Involved Business / Economic Development
  • Worked with a Professional PR Consultant
  • Customized one page brochures for each of the county's 14 cities

Case Study

Case Study: Alameda County , CA
“The Economic Impact of Child Care in Alameda County :
A Growing Industry Supporting the Local Economy”
Date of Study Completion: December 2002 (by Shelby McCulley, consultant to Alameda County LINCC and General Services Agency); 1998 (by NEDLC)


Membership and Context

Alameda County has produced two child care economic impact studies. The first, in 1998, was researched and written by the National Economic Development and Law Center (NEDLC) as a part of the county’s participation in the Local Investment in Child Care (LINCC) Initiative. LINCC is a project designed to bridge the gap between child care planning, and economic development and land use planning. The LINCC project, which was funded by the Packard Foundation, targeted 9 counties in California and supported an economic impact study as well as staff to work on building relationships and implementing recommendations from the study. LINCC staff were housed at the County of Alameda General Services Agency, which was the lead Alameda agency involved in producing the economic impact report.

Following on the success of the 1998 study, in 2002 the County of Alameda General Services Agency produced a second study, which updated data to show the growth of the sector in the intervening years. The second report also disaggregated results by city, creating 14 mini-studies for cities to use at the local level. Finally, the 2002 report presented new recommendations for action. This case study focuses mainly on the content and impact of the 2002 report.

The Study:

Sector Definition

For the purpose of the economic analysis of the sector, the study defines child care to include only licensed child care establishments. Excluded from this definition are informal or regulation-exempt child care programs, including care in the home of relative or unlicensed neighbors/friends, care provided by nannies, and care operated by a school or recreation program.

Data Analysis

Measurement* Alameda County
Number of Establishments 2,718
Child Care Labor Force 8,642
Children Served 60,000
Gross Receipts $346 million
Number of Parents with Children in Paid Care  
Multiplier Effects on Local Economy X
Governmental Transfers / Subsidies X
Tax Receipts / Fiscal Impact X

*Not all studies included the same components making it difficult to compare the numbers provided in this chart with those of other studies. In its definition of the number of establishments, this study included licensed and regulated center and family care and did not include regulation-exempt center care, pre-k in public schools, or regulation-exempt home-based care (informal care). In its definition of gross receipts, this study included provider charges (parent fees and vouchers in lieu of parent fees), and did not include government funded programs (Head Start, UPK) or provider subsidies (quality dollars, Child and Adult Care Food Program, etc).

The Alameda study assesses the economic impact of the child care industry by presenting the revenues generated, the number of people it employs, the number of indirect jobs created, and the capacity growth of the child care sector.

Unique Findings

The 2002 study traced growth of the child care industry since the publication of the first economic impact study in 1998. The research team found a 4.3% increase in newly established businesses as well as a 22% gain in the number of child care spaces, an important finding as an initial goal of the LINCC project was to increase child care supply. They also found that formal sector output has increased by 39% since 1997.

While data often exist to quantify the formal child care sector, estimating the impact of the informal sector is more challenging. Based on data from a study on the California child care industry, which found that the final revenue total of the industry could be as much as 50% greater if informal care were quantified, the Alameda study estimated that an additional $173 million in “unassigned” revenue is generated annually by the informal sector in Alameda County .


Organizational Change and Outreach

The format of the 2002 study lends itself to easy dissemination and local action, as mini-studies on Alameda ’s 14 cities are contained in the Appendix. The “mini-studies” are formatted as one-page flyers suitable for public distribution, and are also available to download from the Alameda Child Care Planning Council’s webpage. (

While the business community was less involved in the creation of the study, LINCC invited business members, such as members of the Chamber of Commerce, to become involved upon its completion. The planning for the launch of the second economic impact report was undertaken by a committee including representatives of state legislators, Chambers of Commerce, and the child care field. George Zimmer, CEO of the Men’s Wearhouse, gave the keynote address at this event, which was held at a local business that provides on-site child care for its employees. LINCC further encouraged business interest by giving awards to businesses in Alameda County that supported child care for their employees. Since the launch of the study, a key media strategy has been to try to move child care from the family issues/social sections of newspapers to the business section. Angie Garling , from the Alameda Child Care Planning Council, cited a particularly successful headline “Child care crisis seen posing economic peril.” They also had coverage in the San Francisco Business Times (along with Contra Costa’s economic impact report), the East Bay Business Times, and Bay Area Businesswoman. A media consultant aids their efforts as part of the LINCC Project.

In addition to conducting an economic impact study, the Child Care Planning Council worked to promote employer involvement in child care efforts, including creating informational brochures for businesses interested in investing in child care ( The Child Care Planning Council has also begun to work closely with the Alameda County Economic Development Alliance for Business.

An analysis of local child care permitting and zoning procedures was undertaken at about the same time the economic impact report was completed.

A number of activities that resulted from the 1998 economic impact report continue as well. These include:

  • A Child Care Fund that supports business training and facility development assistance for providers was developed about the same time the economic impact report was produced and efforts were made to have the activities complement each other; 
  • Establishment of a relationship between child care leaders and the economic development director’s association in the County: the head of the organization was featured in a business publication on the economic impact of child care; child care is now included as an indicator the organization tracks; and the child care planning group is included on the organization’s letterhead. Child care representatives now participate in ongoing meetings of the group and provide updates on resources to link land use and economic development and child care.
  • The inclusion of child care provisions in 7 city general plans in Alameda County;
  • Relationships with municipal leaders which are useful for policy formulation and land use planning for child care; for example, the City of Dublin included child care in a policy for semi-public land. The Mayor who oversaw this policy development had been introduced to the first economic impact report in 1999 at a roundtable meeting in her City.

The Alameda Child Care Planning Council continues to use the Economic Impact study throughout its advocacy work, as Angie Garling explained “It’s basically one of the first pieces of data that we pull out when we’re talking about child care and the effectiveness of child care.”


The study included five main policy objectives, which were underscored by current examples drawn from Alameda County itself and other areas across California . The examples help to illustrate the recommendations and potential results. The policy recommendations are:

  • Mitigate the impact of new development on child care demand and supply; 
  • Include child care in economic development and planning efforts; 
  • Continue developing and financing innovative public and private initiatives to strengthen the child care workforce; 
  • Increase public and private support for efforts to build the child care infrastructure; 
  • Encourage public and private efforts to make child care affordable for all families.

Interview with:
Ellen Dektar and Angie Garling
Alameda Co Child Care Coordinator
General Services Agency
Summer 2004


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