Last month, the California Department of Education (CDE) hosted a listening session about the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) transition, specifically focused on the California State Preschool Program (CSPP). The goal of this session was to share information about CDE’s process and strategies for improving CSPP, update stakeholders on the transition of Early Learning and Care programs to CDSS, gather input and feedback from stakeholders on how to improve and strengthen CSPP, and address its vision to meaningfully address equity in CSPP and align it to through third grade.
As the session began, CDE acknowledged the immense challenges faced in the field this year due to COVID-19, wildfires, and a history of racial injustice and inequity and shared its commitment to combating these issues long-term. CDE staff also shared that they have been participating in the CDSS Listening Sessions and hearing feedback from the field about what it wants to see addressed in the transition, as well as concerns that have been raised. CDE highlighted the following key themes it has heard during these conversations:
- A desire to shift from a compliance orientation to a focus on continuous improvement in our work with programs/providers.
- Training for all staff to improve interactions with families and children.
- A “no wrong door” system from families that better coordinates all services.
- Staggering changes to allow time to implement.
- Continuing to provide opportunities to participate in virtual meetings and engagement sessions.
- Continuing to engage, listen to, and work with families, teachers, contractors, and other stakeholders.
CDE expressed its commitment to addressing these items, but also expressed that as they work on the transition there are still many elements that they don’t have the answers to yet. It underscored that its biggest goal is to stabilize CSPP programs. Staff also indicated that the transition of many programs to CDSS means CSPP is no longer bound to Child Care Development Block Grant rules and can innovate, which is a big opportunity.