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Supervisor Ellenberg to Propose "Returnship" Initiative for Santa Clara County

Santa Clara County, Calif. – Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Vice President Susan Ellenberg will present a referral during the March 22 Board of Supervisors meeting to help Santa Clara County establish a Return-to-Work Program for those seeking to return to the workforce after taking time away from careers to care for children or other dependents.   

The referral’s intent is to increase employment opportunities for caregivers and decrease the need for expensive safety net services as Santa Clara County continues to see high demand for educated and experienced workers in a competitive labor market. 

“When a caregiver leaves the workforce, it can be very hard for them to return years later, in part because their activities in those intervening years are often not recognized as valued professional experience” said Vice President Ellenberg. “Acknowledging the time away need not be a deficit and providing short term support for retraining or catching up on changes in their fields can be exactly what is needed to position these vital professionals to again make significant contributions to their employers.”    

The program will be open to all genders, although the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic had a well-documented disproportional impact on working women around the world as they had more involuntary job losses and shouldered increased demands of caregiving. According to an Ipsos poll, nearly 17% of women indicated they spent nine hours or more per day on childcare after the start of the pandemic compared to only 6% of men reporting the same.  Additionally, research shows the longer the duration of a caregiving offramp, the less likely it is the worker will return to their chosen profession and income level.  Therefore, the timing of this program is important to people who left the workforce during the COVID pandemic. 

“Several large private sector Bay Area companies have created returnship programs because they understand the value not only for the returning caregivers but for their companies or organizations as well,” said Vice President Ellenberg. “Santa Clara County should join their ranks and serve as model for additional businesses and organizations to emulate.” 

 The referral is item 15 on the March 22 Board of Supervisors Meeting and the public is invited to provide comments via email to [email protected].  

 District 4 includes the cities of Campbell and Santa Clara, the unincorporated pocket of Burbank, and West San Jose. For more information about Supervisor Ellenberg’s office, visit     


Update: The referral passed unanimously (added to the 3/22/22 consent calendar - item 7)

Michael Norris, [email protected]   
Cell: 669-250-8572  



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