In January, the Early Childhood Policy Council (ECPC), and its Parent Advisory Committee and Workforce Committee, met for its first convenings of 2022.
Parent Advisory and Workforce Committees
On January 19th, the Parent Advisory and Workforce Committee met jointly for the first time. Tonia McMillian, Chair of the Workforce Committee, and Mary Ignatius, Chair of the Parent Advisory Committee, kicked off the joint meeting by sharing that the purpose was to elevate the needs of families and the Early Learning and Care Workforce and identify some of the commonalities experienced by both groups.
The Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), Kim Johnson, then provided a high-level overview of key priorities in the Governor’s 2022-23 Budget Proposal, which include combatting COVID-19, climate change, homelessness, inequality, and public safety. Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal included investments to address mental health, housing, and public services, as well as increasing universal access to health care. Director Johnson stated that she would provide more details specific to the Early Learning and Care investments including in the budget proposal at the next ECPC meeting on January 25th, which is summarized below. Several members of the public in attendance vocalized the need for the COVID-19 policies for child care providers that were included in the 2021-22 state budget to be extended and included in this year’s budget as well.
The Joint Committees hosted a panel discussion focused on COVID-19 and child care and made up of both parents and members of the Early Learning and Care workforce. The panel was facilitated by Patrick MacFarlane of the Child Care Resource Center and included panelists Miren Algorri, and Ann Louise Bonnitto, who provided the provider and caregiver perspective, and Lissete Frausto and Naima Facih, who provided the parent perspective. The panel focused on how COVID-19 continues to impact child care. The recent surge in cases brought on by the Omicron variant of the virus has disrupted child care with constant closures. Providers don’t have adequate resources and staffing to rely upon and parents don’t have other options for care. Several raised that they continue to experience issues finding proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff. A key theme that arose in the conversation was the design of our child care system. The general sentiment expressed is that the system is working exactly how it was designed to work, but that system doesn’t work for many families and providers, especially families and workers of color, and children with special needs.
On January 25th, the full ECPC convened for its first meeting of the year. Kim Johnson, Director of CDSS, started the meeting with an acknowledgement of how COVID-19 has impacted everyone and expressed a deep appreciation for the Early Learning and Care field’s continued work throughout the pandemic.
2022-23 Early Learning State Budget Proposals Overview
Director Johnson then provided an overview of some of the key proposals included in the Governor’s 2022-23 state budget proposal that would be administered by CDSS. These proposals include investments in foster youth, home visiting supports, workforce support, housing and economic support, working towards benefits for the child care workforce, and committed investments into childcare from last year’s budget that will be operationalized in this year’s budget.
Chris Ferguson of the California Department of Finance then provided an overview of the budget proposals that would be overseen by the California Department of Education related to Early Learning and Care. Some of these investments include funds to support children with disabilities and Dual Language Learners in the California State Preschool Program (CSPP), including expanding categorical eligibility for CSPP to all children with disabilities. It also includes investments to support literacy and reading specialists, as well as multilingual libraries.
Kris Perry, Deputy Secretary and Senior Advisor to the Governor at California Health and Human Services Agency, also provided a brief overview of the Early Learning investments that the Health and Services Agency would be overseeing, which includes expanding early literacy efforts.
Equity Committee Update
Khydeeja Alam Javid of the Advancement Project provided an update on the status of the development of the ECPC Equity Committee. The Council is looking for two volunteers that sit on ECPC to act as the Equity Committee in order to keep equity issues front and center. Javid shared that they are still looking for the second volunteer to launch this Committee and reminded the Council that this role will be critical to advancing ECPC’s goals to ensure policies are truly benefiting the communities most impacted.
Voices from the Field
ECPC invited Paula Merrigan, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Teacher, and Deborah Corley-Marzett, Child Care Provider, to provide some opening remarks about what is going on in the field. Paula Merrigan shared that she is very excited to see these investments into TK and expressed how critical this expansion to Universal TK is to serving families who struggle to afford preschool and childcare programs. She also shared that she understands the trepidation the field has about TK, but believes in the promise of the program and underscored the importance of having administrators receive training to better understand what is developmentally appropriate for 4-year-olds.
Deborah Corley-Marzett opened her remarks by sharing how another child care provider in Kern County passed away of COVID-19 the week before. She underscored how providers are putting their lives on the line to serve children and families, but do receive adequate support to keep themselves safe. Deborah Corley-Marzett expressed that she feels the child care providers’ needs are not being heard and met and that they need more support from the state now.
Quarterly Update on CDSS Transition
Dr. Lupe Jaime Mileham, Deputy Director Child Care and Development Division at California Department of Social Services, provided an update on the CDSS transition, which included an update on how they have been releasing the funds for the child care slots from the 2021-22 budget and providing guidance on rates and new rate ceiling. She also shared that CDSS has partnered with the Resource & Referral Network to to distribute $10 million in funding using a new equity formula. The formula has distributed a 10 percent increase to each agency based on their 2020-21 contract. Dr. Jaime Mileham provided a quick overview of the Language Learner Project CDSS is overseeing in partnership with Fresno Unified, which will focus on building the capacity of Family Child Care providers to support the needs of Dual Language Learners. To find the full quarterly transition report, visit here.
California Department of Education Update
Sarah Neville-Morgan, Deputy Superintendent, Opportunities for All Branch, and Stephen Propheter, Director, Early Education Division, Opportunities for All Branch of the California Department of Education (CDE) provided an update and overview of CDE’s work to support a Universal Preschool (UPK) system in California. The presentation focused on the vision the state has to implement a UPK system and the first steps that are being taken to get there through the expansion of TK. Neville-Morgan and Propheter provided an overview of the programs, including CSPP, Head Start, TK, and child care that make up different components of California’s preschool mixed-delivery system. They also shared different funding opportunities included in the state budget last year to support Local Education Agencies to strengthen their preschool programs and expand TK. One workforce focused program mentioned specifically is the Early Education Teacher Development Grant Program, which aims to increase the number of highly qualified teachers available to serve in CSPP and TK. For more information on the CDE funding opportunities to support Early Learning, visit here.
Presentations on Early Childhood Development
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Surgeon General of California, and Dr. Andrew N. Meltzoff, Co-Director for the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, Professor Psychology University of Washington, each provided presentations on early childhood development. Dr. Harris’ presentation focused on the impact of adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress on children’s health, and how these impacts have only been exacerbated through the pandemic. Dr. Meltzoff presented on child development and the social biases and prejudices in preschool aged children. Research shows that they develop beliefs from implicit learning and from imitating the behaviors that they see. Children also learn beliefs, attitudes, and morality from observing our interactions.
The next ECPC meeting will tentatively be hosted July 13, 2022. More information on ECPC and its committees can be found here.