On August 25th, the Early Childhood Policy Council (ECPC) convened for its third meeting of the year. Kim Johnson, director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), kicked off the meeting by reflecting on the tremendous investments in Early Learning and Care that had been finalized in the 2021-22 State Budget since the Council had last met.
Voices from the Field
Johnson then transitioned to have the Council hear from voices from the field, which included Scott Moore, CEO of Kidango, Patrick MacFarlane, representing the parent voice, and Miren Algorri, speaking as a Child Care Providers Union member. Scott Moore shared how COVID-19 had been challenging for Kidango centers, providers, and families. He underscored the significance of the budget and how critical that funding will be to help Kidango increase compensation, benefits, and mental health consultations, as well as serve younger kids. Patrick MacFarlane shared how important it is for parents and families to have access to programs that support them when their children are sick, such as paid family leave. He also called out the need to further support Black families, and would like to see that addressed. Miren Algorri talked about how grateful she is to see the funds for providers that they have fought so long and hard for realized in the State Budget. She underscored that it is an important step towards having providers treated with dignity and respect.
Advisory Committee Report Out
Tonia McMillian, chair of the ECPC Workforce Committee was then asked to report on the latest Workforce Committee meeting. She shared that the focus of the meeting was Shared Services Networks, provided an overview of the panel speakers, and discussed how the Shared Services Networks can support child care providers. For more information on the details of that meeting, please see the summary of the August 17th ECPC Workforce Committee Meeting.
Child Care and Development Updates
Maria “Lupe” Jaime-Mileham, deputy director of the Child Care and Development Division (CCDD) at the California Department of Social Services provided an update on division happenings. She shared that much of the first quarter of fiscal year 2021-22 has been focused on onboarding and hiring new staff amidst the transition, conducting the summer learning series, and releasing guidance. Jaime-Mileham reported that the Child Care Bulletins on the hold harmless, paid non-operation days, and the family fees schedule are currently out for review by stakeholders. She also provided an update on the 2022-24 Child Care and Development Fund State Plan, which was submitted June 30th. CCDD is waiting to hear back from the Federal Office of Child Care by the end of September if there are any issues of non-compliance. The plan will go into effect October 1, 2021 until September 30, 2024. In terms of the CDSS transition, the next Stakeholder Transition Update will be provided on October 4th. You can find this information and other CCDD resources here.
Conversation on Equity
After CCDD updates, the Council transitioned to several presentations all focused on equity in Early Learning and Care. The first presentation was by Shantel Meek of the Children’s Equity Project who presented on three key policy areas that strongly influence children’s experiences in the classroom: harsh discipline, lack of inclusion, and inequitable access to high-quality learning opportunities for Dual Language Learners. Meek described how these issues breed inequity in our Early Learning system and shared a bit about how bias drives a lot of the decision-making that impacts children negatively. To combat these inequities, the Children’s Equity Project recommends fully funding programs designed to support children from historically marginalized communities; requiring states to report and make progress on equity plans; collecting state level data on racial disparities in discipline; and, developing learning environments that support the development of the home language.
The next presenter was Julia Caplan, program director of the Public Health Institute. In her presentation, she provided an overview for the Committee about the Capitol Collaborative on Race and Equity (CCORE), which is a community of California state government entities learning about and planning for implementing activities that embed racial equity approaches into institutional culture, policies, and practices. CCORE first launched in 2018 and consists of training cohorts of government agencies and a team that provides technical support. CCORE leads with race to help these institutions develop racial equity tools and results-based accountability. All 33 organizations that have participated in CCORE so far have racial equity action teams.
Presenters Rohan Radhakrishna of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Marcela Ruiz of CDSS each shared how their respective departments have made equity and anti-racism top priorities. CDPH is in the process of hiring nine new equity liaisons and are working to shift from a categorical case-based approach to a more holistic equity-focused approach. Ruiz talked about the equity concerns of CDSS and how the department is working towards a vision to create a society in which everyone can reach their highest level of health and success, regardless of background or identity. In July 2020, CDSS established an Office of Equity which now aims to improve anti-bias training, improve workforce culture, integrate immigration services, and increase community engagement and partnerships.
To conclude the conversation on equity, Dr. Daniel Lee, the deputy superintendent of equity at the California Department of Education (CDE) shared an overview of the work CDE is conducting to foster equity in early education. Dr. Lee talked a lot about the 2021-22 budget investments into community schools and anti-bias training which will help foster equity across school districts and in classrooms.
Council and Public Comment
To conclude the meeting, the forum was opened for Council and public comment. Several individuals requested for equity to be a standing agenda item for the ECPC and to make sure that we also talk about power and privilege when we discuss issues of equity. Others asked, what role is envisioned for the ECPC to play in broadening the work and scope of what’s happening at the state level? How can the ECPC be involved in making those policy conversations happen? Additionally, several individuals asked questions about when guidance on funds for providers will be released and expressed the urgency of which providers need these funds included in the budget.
The next ECPC meeting will be hosted November 16th from 9 am – 12 pm. More information can be found here.