Between August and September, the Early Childhood Policy Council (ECPC) convened its Parent Advisory Committee, Workforce Committee, and full council third quarter meeting.
Parent Advisory Committee
The Parent Advisory Committee, hosted on August 31st, was kicked off by Committee Chair, Mary Ignatius. With a theme of “back to school,” the Committee aimed to recognize that going back to school can look and feel different from family to family. Accordingly, this Parent Advisory Committee meeting was focused on serving families and children with special needs and uplifting the challenges that parents with children with special needs face when navigating complex systems to get their children the supportive services they need and are entitled to. Parents, Yenni Rivera and Naima Facih, recounted their own personal experiences accessing services for their children and the barriers they faced.
The Parent Advisory Committee then heard a presentation from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) about the services they provide to support families with children experiencing developmental delays and how DDS can help assess whether a child has a delay. The presentation included details on the processes DDS follows to help families who are concerned their child might be experiencing a developmental delay, what services are available to families that have children with special needs, and how to access those services.
Committee remarks and public comment in response to the presentation and agenda discussion raised that parents and families need better access to the information about the services DDS provides and more support from the Department to navigate these systems and processes effectively.
On September 8th, the Workforce Committee convened to provide attendees with an overview of federal and state policies currently impacting the Early Learning and Care workforce. The meeting was opened by the Committee Chair, Tonia McMillian, who provided welcoming remarks before introducing Kim Kruckel of the Child Care Law Center and Mary Beth Testa of MBST Solutions, LLC who joined the Committee to present on federal policies and Early Learning and Care advocacy efforts. Kim Kruckel provided a thorough overview of existing federal infrastructure and policies, such as the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), Head Start, the IDEA Act Part B and C, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Preschool Development Grants, and the Reconciliation and Budgeting processes. Mary Beth Testa then discussed investments Congress made to child care relief in 2020-21, including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), that provided California with $5 billion for child care. She also shared that despite the growing momentum and support for child care at the national level since the pandemic, the appropriations agreement through the reconciliation process ended up not including the further investments for Early Learning and Care.
After the focus of policies at the federal level, Kim Kruckel and Laurie Furstenfeld of Child Care Law Center discussed recent state legislation and investments, and their impact on the state’s mixed-delivery system. Kim Kruckel discussed universal Transitional Kindergarten, major and minor renovation grants, and Child Care Providers United’s negotiations for expanded stipends and benefits for providers participating in the subsidy system. Laurie Furstenfeld shared an overview of California’s legislative and budgeting processes, as well as current champions for Early Learning and Care, such as the Legislative Women’s Caucus.
Many comments from the Committee members and public addressed the need for greater child care investments at the federal and state levels and the importance of recognizing the value of the Early Learning and Care workforce, a field made up predominantly of women of color.
The full Early Childhood Policy Council convened on September 14th for its quarterly meeting. Chair Kim Johnson launched the meeting with updates from the Administration, which included the recent release of new Trailer Bill Language impacting Early Learning and Care and a new executive order Governor Newsom signed which establishes a Racial Equity Commission and directs state agencies and departments to take additional actions to embed equity analysis and considerations in their mission, policies, and practices. Kim Johnson then introduced two “voices from the field” to share their experiences working within the field of Early Learning and Care. The first was Cherie Schroeder, Director of Yolo County Foster & Kinship Care Education, who delivered a presentation focused on supporting the needs of foster children in caregiving settings and the critical role foster caregivers play in helping with early identification of potential developmental delays in children and getting them the supportive services they need. The second voice from the field was Sonia Jaramillo, Senior Director of the Monterey County Early Learning Program, who shared about the workforce challenges they face in their Head Start program due to low compensation and how those challenges have increased with changes in other programs in California’s ECE mixed delivery system.
Dr. Maria Lupe Jaime-Mileham, Deputy Director Child Care and Development Division at California Department of Social Services (CDSS) then provided an update on the transition of administration of child care programs from the California Department of Education (CDE) to CDSS. She provided an overview of the recently released report from the Rate Reform and Quality Workgroup that had convened over the past 6 months to develop recommendations on a cost assessment methodology and provide recommendations on a single-reimbursement rate system. She then shared the next steps which require the Joint Labor Management Committee to take the recommendations included within the report to develop recommendations on developing a single-reimbursement rate structure and share with the Department of Finance by November 15th. Sarah Neville-Morgan, Deputy Superintendent, Opportunities for All Branch, and Stephen Propheter, Director of the Early Education Division at the CDE also provided an update on Early Learning and Care at CDE and shared an overview of the recent changes made to the California State Preschool Program, which expanded eligibility and increased funding to support early identification and inclusive practices for children with special needs.
The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and Department of Health Care Services (DCHS) then delivered a thorough presentation on strategies to support health and opportunities for children and families. The presentation focused on the services provided through DDS for early identification of children with special needs and supports that can be received through the Regional Centers. The presentation also provided an overview of the Governor’s new Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health that was released in August. More information on the state’s efforts to increase support for children and family health through Medi-Cal can be found here.
Early Edge California’s Executive Director, Patricia Lozano, shared that TK implementation is an opportunity to be more intentional about how programs can work collaboratively across the mixed-delivery system to ensure that all children and families, including infants and toddlers, children with special needs, and Dual Language Learners, all have access to the care that best meets their needs. Other public comments from this meeting focused on the importance of including community and interest holder input in conversations and decision-making on Universal Pre-K implementation.
The next ECPC meeting will be hosted on December 14th. More information can be found here.