On February 3, 2021, the Early Childhood Policy Council (ECPC) hosted its first meeting of the year. The meeting began with a welcome by California’s Surgeon General Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, who shared that this will be her last meeting as Chair and a member of the ECPC. She is stepping down to begin new appointments as Co-Chair of the Community Advisory Vaccine Committee and Chair of the First 5 California Children and Families Commission, roles which she recognized help support the work of the ECPC.
Early Childhood Policy Council Survey Results
At the end of 2020, WestEd surveyed ECPC participants to elicit feedback about the meetings and what issues stakeholders want to see elevated. WestEd presented an overview of the survey responses which expressed that participants deeply valued being able to provide feedback and directly connect to state agencies, appreciated hearing different perspectives of parents and providers, and valued the discussions that were taking place on equity. Some recommendations included:
- Longer time for each agenda item
- Inclusion of both verbal and written comment and diversity of voices
- Further discussion around COVID-19 impact and recovery
- Further discussion and explanation of Master Plan for Early Learning and Care goals
- Further discussion on supporting workforce through professional development and technical assistance
- Further discussion on state-led initiatives, policies, and emerging trends to enhance understanding of the the ECE landscape
Public comment on this item also elevated the need to ensure that the ECPC is being intentional about reaching out to providers and making ECPC meetings schedules and materials more accessible so that they can participate.
Governor’s Proposed January Budget
Staff from the Department of Finance provided a brief overview of Governor Newsom’s Budget Proposal related to child care and highlighted the following:
- Golden State Stimulus program which will help provide an additional $600 to those who qualify for CalEITC.
- Updated Proposition 64 revenue which is estimated to add an additional $21.5 million for child care slots in 2021-21 and an additional $44 million on-going (4,700 new child care slots).
- Launch of collective bargaining process with Child Care Providers United (CCPU) to negotiate on child care issues.
- The transition of child care services from the California Department of Education (CDE) to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), effective July 1, 2021.
- Federal COVID relief funds that will be allocated to California to support child care.
There was robust discussion during public comment about the budget proposal. Key themes that emerged were the importance of getting the Federal COVID relief funds distributed to providers as soon as possible, concerns about lack of a hold harmless for providers, and great concerns about workforce compensation and reimbursement rates. Many expressed their challenges with provider and teacher retention when compensation is below market rate.
Child Care and Development Fund State Plan
The CDE presented on the development status of the 2022-24 Child Care and Development Fund State Plan (CCDF). The purpose of the CCDF is to increase the availability, affordability, and quality of child care services. States and territories receiving CCDF funds must prepare and submit a plan to the federal government detailing how these funds will be allocated and expended. This plan is redeveloped every three years and is currently going through the public input process. The following themes have emerged in input sessions thus far:
- Recognizing biases and inequities
- The need for more diversity in the workforce
- Retention of current workforce
- Compensation and reimbursement rates
The 30-day public comment period for CCDF opens February 12th and written comments may be submitted through the dedicated email box at firstname.lastname@example.org. A virtual hearing will be hosted on March 4th. This plan will go into effect on October 1, 2021 and be in effect until September 30, 2024. Obtain more information about the CCDF State Plan and timeline.
Participants during the ECPC meeting further raised the need for increased compensation and supports for the workforce. It also elevated the need to ensure the workforce is prepared to serve and meet the specific needs of Black and Brown communities, families who speak a home language other than English, and provide trauma-informed care.
Child Care Program Transition Second Quarter Report
Kim Johnson, Director of CDSS, provided an update on the transition of child care services from CDE to CDSS and shared that she is thrilled to have Dr. Maria Lupe Jaime-Mileham join CDSS as the Deputy Director of the Child Care and Development Division. Johnson announced that CDSS will be releasing the transition plan soon, as the plan is officially due to the Legislature and ECPC on March 31. CDSS and CDE have been collaborating to ensure smooth transition of facilities and equipment and handle human resources and labor relations. CDSS is also engaging stakeholders to elicit feedback and has hosted several listening sessions on topics that were selected by the field. It has also developed public-private partnerships with the Packard Foundation and Heising-Simons Foundation to help frame and craft conversations. It will be hosting its third quarterly stakeholder call on April 14, 1-2:30 p.m. The programs and staff will officially transition on July 1, 2021.
Participants shared their congratulations and excitement about the appointment of Dr. Lupe Jaime as the new Deputy Director of the Child Care and Development Division. They also expressed their desire and need for providers to have a direct line to CDSS, as many had experienced challenges connecting with CDE Liaisons in the past. There was further discussion about the need for more training for providers on racism, trauma, and biases, as well as work to remove these biases from the system itself and work to break the preschool to prison pipeline. Some participants expressed interest in getting involved in CDSS public-private partnerships and asked about next steps. Lastly, a proposal was raised to use the ECPC as an advocacy body to influence the budget process. Discussion on this proposal did not lead to a decision, but the idea was generally well received.