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"It's Really Expensive": The High Cost Of Childcare For A Ventura County Working Mom


As Joe Biden was being sworn in as President, back in January, a Ventura County first-time mom was going into labor. KCLU has been following her journey raising a family in a pandemic…and now facing the high cost of childcare.

Genessee Semler’s daughter Fin is smiling, and trying to chat.

While Joe Biden was being inaugurated on January 20th, the Thousand Oaks mom was in labor.

Fin, is one of a diminishing number of babies being born this year. California is set to see 50 thousand fewer births in 2021, in-line with a national COVID-19 “baby bust.”

Semler says Fin is hitting developmental milestones and will be around "little people like her" when she starts daycare in July.

Fin, is as old as Joe Biden’s presidency. Both are in their infancy, sure, but Biden HAS announced the America Families Plan – something which Semler hopes will make life easier for those like her, who want to start families of their own.

"I do appreciate that he's focusing more on families. The birthrate went down during the pandemic. There isn't enough reason to have a family - there isn't enough support," she said.

It’s not just an issue that’s being tackled nationally. CA Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a Universal Transitional Kindergarten plan, aimed at supporting low-income families.

Childcare is an expense which, even with two incomes, Genessee says could stop them from being able to afford to grow their family further.

"I think what needs to increase are the childcare credits. If you work, you have to pay for childcare and that's really expensive, " said Semler.

She said Fin's childcare will cost around $1600 per month, which is a "substantial percentage" of their income.

"Imagine that times two, that's $3200. Plus we have our mortgage and groceries and expenses. So it's a consideration in having a second child."

Semler says although they joke about moving to another state, she doesn't want to be far away from their family.

Housing in more expensive in California than in any other state – except Hawaii – so it says a lot about the cost of childcare here – which is MORE expensive than housing costs in CA.

Semler says, "We need to support more births, more babies and support the women who contribute to the household finances and not force them to choose between having a baby and a career.

"It's not fair to make them choose, when men don't have to make that choice."

We will continue to follow the journey of Genessee and Fin, here on KCLU.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.
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