Early Edge California convened its Educator Advisory Group in a series of regional meetings beginning in February through April, with groups representing educators in the Bay Area, Fresno, and Los Angeles. For 2 of the 3 regional groups, this year marked a return to in-person meetings from the virtual meeting format we facilitated during the pandemic, a milestone moment that was much appreciated by both our participating educators and the Early Edge team. The meetings were an opportunity for educators to share their feedback and provide input on a series of timely discussion prompts.
Updates from Early Edge
The meetings began with participants learning relevant updates since the last meeting in November 2022 through a presentation from the team, including an overview of the Early Learning and Care investments included in Governor Newsom’s January 2023 budget proposal along with Early Edge’s policy and legislative priorities for the year.
Elevating Educators’ Needs
The majority of the meeting centered around facilitated group discussions where advisory group members were asked to respond to the following prompts. The Advisory Group Leadership Council helped provide questions related to retaining the workforce and discussing behavioral/mental health supports and training. The following key takeaways emerged from the discussion.
Workforce Recruitment and Retention
- Provide supports once educators are in the field
- Create a pathway that starts in PK-12
- Continue creating opportunities in IHEs/community colleges
- Tap into parents/families as potential recruitment sources
- Help professionalize the field
What do educators need to be able to care for kids dealing with trauma?
- Educators need access to trauma-informed training; they have seen a lot of trauma and social-emotional needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Family engagement is key: ask families for support and ensure there is open, two-way communication.
What mental health supports are needed for kids, parents, and educators?
- Help address the overall stigma with needing and accessing mental health support.
- Ensure there are accessible/on-site professionals available to meet with kids, parents, and educators.
The next round of Educator Advisory Group regional meetings will occur in person in the fall of 2023. Early Edge always values the insights we receive from our Advisory Group members. We will be seeking their input and incorporating their feedback in our work as we move forward with policy and advocacy efforts in the coming year. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in our meetings!