A New Research Brief from Early Edge California & the American Institutes for Research (AIR)
The research brief, California’s Early Learning and Care Providers: Essential Workers Who Need Support, released by Early Edge California and the American Institutes for Research (AIR), shares results from focus groups that the two organizations conducted in May 2020 with Early Learning providers—including administrators, educators, and caregivers—about their needs and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research shows that the health crisis has taken a significant toll on Early Learning providers and that they continue to face challenges supporting young children, especially dual language learners (DLLs). It also underscores that Early Learning programs need more resources to continue.
“The results from this research evidence the need to provide more resources to Early Learning teachers and the children they serve during these unprecedented times. It’s clear that we need to provide more guidance, resources, technology, and support to them to get through this crisis. This pandemic has revealed deep disparities that need to be addressed to create an equitable system that supports learning for all children.”
— Patricia Lozano, Executive Director of Early Edge California
While Early Learning providers have shown themselves to be creative and highly dedicated to the families they serve during the pandemic, the Early Learning system in California faces great challenges both now and along the road ahead. Based on our conversations with providers across the state, the brief also outlines a series of recommendations for maintaining and strengthening California’s Early Learning system.
The brief also outlines the following recommendations from Early Edge California and AIR for maintaining and strengthening California’s Early Learning system, which are based on the feedback from the focus groups:
- Continue to fund state-contracted programs.
- Support home-based care through local and statewide networks.
- Support private programs with guidance and access to resources.
- Provide guidance for all programs on how to operate in the new context.
- Ensure all programs and families have access to technology and resources to meet basic needs.
- Share distance learning resources with all programs.
- Help programs better support DLLs in distance learning.
- Capitalize on connections with families to strengthen engagement.
- Share resources with DLL families to promote home language development.
- Support Early Learning providers as people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted—and deepened—cracks in the Early Learning system. Although the state budget is stretched thin, the system is part of California’s critical infrastructure, and responding to these immediate needs is a first step toward filling the cracks and strengthening the system for all children.