On June 9th, the Early Childhood Policy Council (ECPC) met for its second quarter convening. The meeting kicked off with an introduction from the new ECPC Chair, Kim Johnson, Director of the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Johnson started the meeting by thanking those who had participated in drafting an advocacy letter on behalf of ECPC to influence the 2021-22 State Budget as it relates to Early Learning and Care. Read the final letter.
Introduction: Voices from the Field
Johnson invited “voices from the field” to share about their perspectives and experiences as child care providers and parents during the pandemic. Lissete Frausto, the first speaker, shared how the pandemic impacted her as a parent and how she was affected by losing child care. She went on to describe how a lack of child care impacted her kids’ social skills and speech. Miren Algorri also spoke and shared her experience as a child care provider. She explained how she feels we’re at a crucial point to raise awareness and support for family child care providers who are underpaid. Algorri underscored how hard advocates and providers have worked over the years to uplift the message that livable wages lead to quality care and she urged the Governor to reform reimbursement rates and raise it to the 85 percentile of the 2018 Regional Market Rate.
State Budget Update
Chair Johnson then provided an overview of the proposals included in the Governor’s May Revise, highlighting his proposals that would: address child poverty; transform public schools through the expansion of Transitional Kindergarten to all 4-year-olds, develop full-service community schools, and provide free summer and after-school programs; support child care and development through 100,000 new child care slots, the waiving of family fees, workforce stabilization support, infrastructure investments, and professional development focused on trauma-informed safety and social-emotional development. The Chair also provided an overview of health and human services investments that will support youth behavioral and mental health and she shared that individuals can find more information about family mental health resources at www.calhope.org and www.calhopeconnect.org.
Child Care Program Transition Quarterly Report
Dr. Lupe Jaime-Mileham, the Deputy Director of Child Development at CDSS, provided an overview of the progress made on the transition of child care programs from the California Department of Education (CDE) to CDSS made in the fourth quarter. Dr. Jaime-Mileham underscored that the department’s top priority is a smooth transition and continuity of programs with no disruption. She also reiterated that even though the word “education” is not included in the title of the Child Care and Development Division, child care providers are still very much seen as educators. Dr. Jaime-Mileham provided an overview of the milestones they have achieved so far in this transition, such as many stakeholder engagement sessions, the release of the transition plan, and USDA approval of waivers to move the Child and Adult Care Food Program from CDE to CDSS. Lastly, she shared that there will be a few more webinars about the transition ahead of its official transfer day on July 1, 2021.
COVID-19 One Year Later: Results of a Birth-5 Parent Poll
Mayra Alvarez, Executive Director of the The Children’s Partnership provided a presentation of the results of a birth to 5 parent poll conducted by her organization in partnership with Early Edge California, The Education Trust – West, Advancement Project, Center for District Innovation and Leadership in Early Education, and Child 360. The poll asked parents about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to better assess and understand what families need to recover. The survey results revealed that families need increased supports and access to mental and physical health. For instance, Alvarez shared that 50 percent of unemployed parents enrolled in state sponsored health insurance (e.g. Medi-Cal and Covered California) after losing a job, but many families still struggle with accessing these services virtually. Families also struggled with food insecurity, with about a third of parents reporting that they have skipped their or their child’s meals as a result of the pandemic. 50 percent of parents also say that their current child care facility has limited its hours, decreasing accessibility for parents. Nearly all parents surveyed say they support investing more public funds in expanding access to quality, affordable child care and preschool. Read the full results of the parent poll.
Preschool Development Grant – R Presentation
Donna Sneeringer, Chief Strategy Officer of the Child Care Resource Center provided an overview of the history and role of Resource and Referral (R&R) Agencies and their contract deliverables within the Preschool Development Grant – R (PDG-R). A major focus of the deliverables is growing and expanding Parent Cafes and increasing the focus on children birth to three. Sneeringer shared that Parent Cafes are an opportunity for parents and caregivers to come together to engage in meaningful, reflective conversations that promote collaboration, peer-to-peer engagement, and empowerment. While the Parent Cafes were originally intended to be in-person, during the pandemic R&Rs across the state hosted virtual cafes to help parents connect with one another. Many parents expressed how the Cafes are so helpful, informative, and help them to feel less isolated when they are going through tough times. During these Cafes, parents reported that they want more high-quality subsidized programs in communities of greatest need and continual anti-bias training to build cultural competence in adults in child care and K-12.
The next ECPC meeting will be hosted in August 2021.