By Yasmin Grewal-Kök
Senior Policy Analyst
Early Edge California
On April 4, 2019, Early Edge presented an Early Learning Panel Discussion with experts and leaders in the field to learn more about the essential elements of high-quality Early Learning systems. This was a follow up event to our December 2018 East Coast Early Learning tour led by Assemblymember McCarty and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.
Our Executive Director, Patricia Lozano, moderated the panel discussion, which featured opening remarks by Early Learning Champions Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and Giannina Pérez, Senior Policy Advisor for Early Childhood to Governor Newsom.
Anna Carter, Director of the North Carolina’s Division of Child Development and Early Education, and Joy Winchester, Director of Alabama’s Office of Early Childhood Development and Professional Support, shared information about their states’ systems, while Lea Austin, Co-Director of Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, gave an overview of California’s Early Learning teachers. Albert Wat, Senior Policy Director at the Alliance for Early Success, provided a high-level perspective on what Early Learning systems need to continuously support quality.
Here are some of the key learnings from the panelists about what is needed to build and sustain high-quality Early Learning systems:
- Strong leadership and buy-in at all levels
- An intentional and incremental approach to expansion
- A mixed delivery system with focused supports for family child care providers and teachers who work with infants and toddlers
- Providing Early Learning teachers in all settings with financial assistance to attain higher qualifications, pay parity with K-12 teachers, and coaching and professional development opportunities
- Inter-agency collaboration, including with workforce development and higher education programs, to develop a pipeline of well-prepared Early Learning teachers
- A comprehensive workforce data system that is linked to program and child outcomes and can inform policy, practice, and continuous quality improvement
The panelist presentations were followed by a robust Q&A from engaged audience members. Participants were eager to learn more about the successes and challenges that other states have faced as we work together to expand and improve California’s Early Learning system.
If you’d like additional information about the event, you can find presentation slides and additional background materials here.