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News and Events, Blog | | Early Edge California

Key Takeaways from Early Edge’s Advisory Groups on Increasing Access to Care for Children Birth-3

Early Edge California proudly facilitates several Early Learning and Care stakeholder groups that inform the development of the organization’s policy and advocacy priorities. The Educator Advisory Groups comprise a diverse group of educators from from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Fresno regions of the state who teach in a variety of settings including school-based, center-based, and home-based programs. The Parent Advisory Group gathers together parents with diverse perspectives from across the state. The Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Advisory Group convenes California’s license-exempt child care caregivers. In addition, our 2023-24 California Leading from Home (LFH) program cohort consists of FFN caregivers who provide license-exempt care to children. Acknowledging the diverse backgrounds within each group, Early Edge recently convened these educators, caregivers, and parents to better understand their experiences serving children ages birth through 3-years-old, and what challenges and opportunities they see in increasing access to infant and toddler care in California.

All stakeholder groups were asked to discuss what’s going well, what are the challenges, and what are potential solutions as it relates to providing care for children ages birth through 3. Below are the key takeaways from these conversations.

Key themes across all teachers, caregivers, and parents:

  • Recent policy changes, such as waiving family fees for income-eligible families, have been instrumental to supporting equitable access to child care.
  • Safety and trust, affordability and proximity, and increased parent involvement were highlighted as priorities for parents and caregivers in providing care for infants and toddlers. 
  • The high-cost of child care options, low compensation, and a lack of standardized supports and professional development opportunities are issues that impact access to infant and toddler care across the state. 
  • Families need support in understanding their child care options and would benefit from a continuum of care for infants and toddlers with stronger transitions and supports when aging to the next program or transitioning to a new setting.

Key themes from the Parent Advisory Group:

  • Parents cited safety and affordability as top concerns when evaluating care options, but many struggle with long wait lists that limit their access to care. 
  • Parents shared that it would be helpful to have more family-oriented supports, such as parenting classes to improve infant and toddler child care knowledge, safety information, peer-support networks, and other resources. They would also like more support in learning about and navigating child care options, complex enrollment processes, and accessing subsidies.

Key themes from the Educator Advisory Groups:

  • In addition to compensation and a lack of supportive resources, educators discussed how a perception of being seen as “baby-sitters” rather than professionals impacts their caregiving. The educators in our Advisory Group elevated the need for incentives, apprenticeship, and pathways to recruit and retain a well-qualified workforce to support infant and toddler care.
  • Educators currently serving infants and toddlers shared that licensing requirements across program settings need to be better aligned to ensure streamlined accessibility for families and increased capacity for providers. Particular items raised were the age definition of infants and toddlers and ability to take time off to access professional development in home-based vs. center-based settings. Additionally, educators shared that facilities requirements and associated costs can be a barrier to providing more care for infants and toddlers.
  • Educators also elevated the need to better engage parents to help increase their awareness of their child’s development and build their understanding of early identification assessments and  supports for multilingual learners and children with special needs, to ensure continuity of supports  between caregiving and home. 

Key themes from the FFN Advisory Group and Leading from Home:

  • Close relationships with parents and families are a strong benefit of FFN care.
  • FFN caregivers often share the same language and cultural backgrounds of the families they serve which allows them to support the development of the child’s home language.
  • The cost of housing, food, utilities and supplies are challenges for FFNs in providing care and education to children, but also limit their ability to pursue opportunities like obtaining licensure for care.
  • Low pay and compensation, including limited access to healthcare and retirement benefits, are challenges for FFNs, which is often dependent on the financial situation of parents and the eligibility and awareness of subsidized programs. 
  • FFN caregivers also shared that they enjoy and value learning resources and professional development opportunities to support their caregiving on topics such as age-appropriate development practices for infants and toddlers, mental health support for them and the children they serve, as well as information on pathways to licensure. The FFN caregivers we spoke to shared that they would benefit from more centralized and easy-to-access trainings and resources.

It is with great appreciation that Early Edge has the opportunity to connect with key stakeholders  across our state and hear both the triumphs and challenges they experience when caring for our youngest children. As we navigate the nuanced landscape of birth-through-3 education and care, Early Edge remains committed to facilitating community-informed conversations, where the collaborative needs of educators, caregivers, and families can guide the evolution of Early Learning and Care in California. Over the coming months, Early Edge will continue to engage these groups around developing policies to address these issues and advocate for our youngest learners.


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