On February 24, 2021 Early Edge California’s new Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) Workgroup met for the first time. The FFN Workgroup is designed to create a space to bring together agencies from across the state that support FFN providers. The Workgroup will work in tandem with our FFN Advisory group, which consists of FFN providers, to help us learn more about the needs and concerns of FFNs and how they can be better supported. The goal of the FFN Workgroup is to reflect upon the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care (MPELC) recommendations relevant to FFNs and provide guidance in the development and prioritization of action plans to implement those recommendations.
To kick off the first meeting, Early Edge California’s Executive Director, Patricia Lozano, provided an overview of the MPELC. She shared about the recommendations in the MPELC focused on FFN providers which include:
- Improving FFN Training;
- Improving Caregiver Wages;
- Supporting Workforce Effectiveness;
- Redesigning Quality Improvement Infrastructure.
After the MPELC overview, the Workgroup discussed the recommendations and shared their initial reactions. Key takeaways from the discussion included:
- The importance of access to training, while ensuring that training and additional requirements are provided at no cost to FFNs.
- Steering clear of adding requirements to FFN providers without also increasing wages. FFNs are often providing care as a favor and do not necessarily even identify as an FFN. If there are additional requirements, many may refuse to provide care.
- Providing financial incentives to FFNs for attending trainings or achieving health and safety certifications.
Increasing FFN Participation
- The importance of providing a variety of options to meet different FFN provider needs. Virtual trainings have made it more accessible for some FFNs to participate, so there has been an increase in participation overall. Play Groups and Cafe Groups are also great entry points for many FFNs; it does not always have to be a training. Multiple languages need to be provided.
Prioritizing MPELC Recommendations
- The Workgroup unanimously agreed that wage parity is the highest priority out of the MPELC FFN recommendations. FFN providers often make a third of what other child care providers make and now have even more responsibilities due to COVID-19. One new responsibility for many FFN providers has been providing support for online learning for school-aged children.
The FFN Workgroup will continue to convene on a monthly basis over the course of the next 6-8 months. Each meeting will dive deeper into specific recommendations in the MPELC. Early Edge is in the process of scheduling the next meeting, which will likely take place in April.
If you are a representative from an agency that works closely with FFNs and are interested in participating in our FFN Workgroup, please reach out to Kelly Reynolds at [email protected].