On February 10, the Early Childhood Policy Council (ECPC) Workforce Committee convened for its first meeting of 2021. The meeting was opened by Committee Chair, Tonya McMillian, who provided brief introductions and an overview of the agenda. The first two items on the agenda shared the same information presented at the ECPC meeting on February 3, which covered the Governor’s 2021-22 Budget Proposal and the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) child care and development programs transition.
Public Comment on Governor’s Budget Proposal Overview
After the presentation on the Governor’s 2021-22 Budget Proposal, questions posed during public comment focused on when further details about the allocation of the Child Care Development Block Grant COVID Relief Funds would be made available and whether private providers that do not receive Title 5 funding would be eligible for these federal funds.
Public Comment on CDSS Child Care Transition Update
After Kristina Meza of CDSS provided an update on the transition, public comment focused on the need for transparency during the transition process and making future transition plan walkthroughs more detailed. Many providers expressed the anxiety they feel about not having clarity on what processes will be changed and would like to receive those details from CDSS as soon as possible. Several shared that it is difficult to communicate between CDSS and the California Department of Education, so they would like more information on what the reporting expectations will be between those two departments.
ECPC Workforce Committee Priorities in 2021
The Committee was then walked through an exercise led by WestEd to help envision the Committee’s ideal Early Childhood Education (ECE) system. Participants were led through three vision-boarding exercises that asked them to reflect upon the following questions and write their thoughts on virtual post-it notes. Summaries of the responses are captured under each question.
- What would it look like if our ECE system was functioning at its absolute best?
Participants responded that in a perfect system, there is respect for ECE providers that is demonstrated through:
- Adequate compensation
- Inclusion in the policymaking process
- Financial support for professional development
- Mental health services
- State and local business management supports
Participants also shared that the system needs to be more intentional about including providers that are not currently receiving supports in the existing ECE system, such as Tribes. The referral system also needs to be more equitable and consistent. Lastly, participants expressed that they would like to have a pool of pre-qualified and finger-printed assistance to be able to pull from as they need extra support.
- What are barriers and constraints to this?
Respondents shared that barriers to creating an ideal ECE system is that the current system is too siloed and that providers are thought of more as babysitters rather than a highly-qualified workforce. Compensation was also elevated as a large barrier, as the wages are not currently liveable.
- What are potential solutions to these barriers?
As potential solutions to these barriers, participants raised the following:
- Address reimbursement rates and wages. Establish comparable qualifications relative to wages.
- Update the Career Pathway system to include providers who are not state contractors – specifically those working with Tribes.
- Combat the inequities, systemic racism, and sexism inherent in our ECE system.
- Reestablish a mentorship program for providers.
- Put money in places where research shows it is most beneficial developmentally (0-5 year olds).
- Respect the parent-provider relationship.
From this list, participants were asked to prioritize what was most important and had the greatest urgency. It was collectively decided that the top priorities for the Committee are:
- Achieving livable wages
- Healthcare benefits for providers
- Clear pathways into different careers with information on salary schedules for those careers
It was discussed that there will be a survey that will be developed to get feedback on the priorities.