As part of our strategic objectives around community and partner engagement, Early Edge California created an Advisory Group Leadership Council in May 2022. The Leadership Council “Ambassadors” are lead participants from our Educator, Parent, and Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Advisory Groups, providing opportunities for deeper collaboration and impact. Ambassadors represent their respective advisory group, serving as a liaison between advisory group members and Early Edge.
The Leadership Council convened in its second meeting of the year via Zoom on June 12th, which was hosted in English and Spanish, thanks to the support of a simultaneous interpreter. The majority of the meeting focused on group discussions to help refine the shared vision and goals for the group as it enters into its second year.
Drawing from previous survey responses and the rich conversations from the meeting, the Leadership Council Ambassadors determined the following elements are crucial for the group moving forward:
- The Advisory Group Leadership Council is an opportunity for Early Edge to connect with and support educators, providers, and parents. Through their participation in the group, the Ambassadors have a shared space to learn from each other—sharing information and best practices amongst each other—to help them in being resources to their colleagues and community.
- “Yo tomo notas, y cuando me reúno con los padres de familias comparto todo lo que é aprendido. / I take notes, and when I meet with parents I share everything I have learned.”—Leadership Council Parent Ambassador
- “Early Edge has provided safe spaces where all educators and families can obtain information and support regarding advocating diversity and the fast growing need of continuous change in today’s world.”—Leadership Council Educator Ambassador
- “He aprendido mucho sobre recursos y política pública. / I have learned a lot about resources and public policy.”—Leadership Council FFN Ambassador
- Being a member of the group has reinforced the importance of quality Early Learning, and provided Ambassadors with the overall insight and access to information that has helped support their work and develop their own advocacy skills.
- “It has given me power to share and push for change in my community. Knowing more helps me get things done.”—Leadership Council Educator Ambassador
- “[This has] provided me with more information on the field, understanding the inner workings. I love learning more about policy and knowing what is happening within California.”—Leadership Council FFN Ambassador
- “Learning about the policy and funding going into our centers is essential. And it’s essential for parents to share their children’s current needs.”—Leadership Council Parent Ambassador
- “Being involved with Early Edge has given me the opportunity to receive a clearer understanding of how the legislative process has a great impact on the early education of California’s children and their families.”—Leadership Council Educator Ambassador
One issue that has been raised by members, and was discussed as a topic across advisory groups during the recent round of meetings, is about the need for mental health supports for children, families, providers, and educators, as well as resources to help educators better support families of children with special needs. We shared brief highlights from the FFN Advisory and Educator Advisory Group meetings, and it’s clear that this will continue to be a topic for discussion to help meet the needs of the field. A Leadership Council Ambassador expressed the importance for parents and families to have access to information and resources to be able to truly support the needs of their children. We will explore existing pathways for resources and support, and will continue to uplift this topic at the next round of advisory group meetings.
Early Edge concluded the meeting by sharing key takeaways from Governor Newsom’s 2023-24 budget revision, providing an opportunity for Ambassadors to ask questions or to learn more about the overall process.
To ensure that the Leadership Council continues to foster a culture of shared learning, the Early Edge team will incorporate the feedback that we received from the Ambassadors into the next round of meetings. The group will meet again in the fall, and will continue to be instrumental in planning for future advisory group meetings and informing our advocacy priorities for the year.
Early Edge thanks the Ambassadors for their participation throughout the first year of the Leadership Council. We look forward to continuing to strengthen and grow our model for connecting policy and practice through key efforts like the Advisory Group Leadership Council, recognizing and highlighting the expertise and commitment for quality Early Learning within our community. For more information about the Leadership Council, please visit our Advisory Groups webpage.