Assembly Early Education Commission Calls For Expanding Access, Empowering Parent & Worker Voices

Monday, April 29, 2019

TOPLINE:

  • After two years of hearings, focus groups, and study, the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education has released its final report.
  • Among the commission’s key recommendations are:
    • Focus on expanding access to children and families most in need, while working toward the goal of universal access to early care and education (ECE).
    • Parents should be treated as experts on their children’s care and education. No new program should be implemented without parent input.
    • The ECE workforce should be supported in developing expertise and compensated as their counterparts in the K-12 system are.
    • Establish the Early Childhood Policy Council to be the primary advisory body on ECE for the Legislature, Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • The full report can be found HERE.

BACKGROUND:

  • Children from low-income families often experience hardships that adversely affect their development. ECE is proven to mitigate the effects of poverty and narrow disparities based on income and race.
    • In California, 20% of families with children under the age of six have incomes below the poverty line (measured by the Supplemental Poverty Measure).
  • ECE comes at a critical period of childhood development that sets the stage for a child’s capabilities and opportunities the rest of their lives, while enabling family members to work and obtain the training and education to move out of low-wage jobs.
  • However, only 28% of the 900,000 California children from birth to age five eligible for subsidized programs were able to take advantage of subsidies, largely due to a lack of state and federal funding.

REPORT TAKEAWAYS:

  • Boosting accessibility
    • State-subsidized ECE should recognize and seek to eliminate societal disparities based on race, poverty, language, and other factors.
    • RECOMMENDATION: Focus on expanding access to children and families most in need, while working toward the goal of universal access to ECE. The ultimate goal is for families at or below the State Median Income to pay no more than 7% of income on ECE.
  • Governance structures
    • State agencies need to all be moving in the same direction with a commitment to equity, continuous improvement, and responsiveness to emerging needs.
    • Entities already tasked with administration of ECE programs, principally the state Department of Education, need to be properly resourced.
    • RECOMMENDATION: Ensure adequate resources for state agencies administering ECE programs. Establish the Early Childhood Policy Council to act as the primary advisory body on ECE for the Legislature, Governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • Parent engagement
    • Parents should be treated as experts on their children’s care and education. No new program should be implemented without parent input.
    • RECOMMENDATION: Establish a Parent Advisory Committee as part of the Early Childhood Policy Council.
  • Workforce development
    • Workers in ECE have not been compensated the same as workers in the K-12 system. The median wage for child care workers in 2017 was $12.29/hour, while for kindergarten teachers it was $38.33.
    • Lower wages and the resulting staff turnover impacts programs and disrupts relationships children develop with their caregivers.
    • RECOMMENDATION: Increase compensation for providers and make available additional training focused on competency and expertise needed to serve children. Create a Workforce Advisory Committee as part of the Early Childhood Policy Council tasked with continued professionalization of the workforce.
  • Coordination with other system partners
    • What kids learn needs to be age appropriate and prepare them for a lifelong path of educational success.
    • RECOMMENDATION: Build closer partnerships with school districts, colleges and universities, First 5 Commissions, and businesses in order to provide continuity of care.
  • Financing
    • The commission does not propose taking away funding from existing programs. Instead, it focuses on how to build upon the existing framework over time.
    • RECOMMENDATION: Set short-, middle-, and long-term goals for expanding access. For instance:
      • Short-term goal (1-2 years): Begin work to increase access for all children age five or younger living below the supplemental poverty threshold.
      • Middle-term goal (3-7 years): Boost access for all children age five or younger with family incomes less than 85% of the state median income.
      • Long-term goal (8-10 years): Families at or below the state median income pay no more than 7% of income on early care and education.
        • The 7% figure is aligned with federal legislation, the Child Care for Working Families Act, which was introduced in February 2019 by Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Bobby Scott, with co-sponsors including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING:

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood):

“Early childhood education underpins so much of what we need to accomplish as a society. Early education is how you turn around cycles of poverty, it’s how you give children a strong foundation for education, and it’s how you lift up families. We can’t get started too soon on the ideas we have produced.”

Assemblymember Blanca Rubio (D-Baldwin Park), Commission Co-chair:

“As a single mother and former school teacher, it has been a pleasure serving on the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission. Ultimately, what matters most to me is how well our early childhood education system is serving our children and families. Quite frankly, the status quo is failing our babies because too few of them have access to high-quality child care. I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement key findings in the report so that we can better serve California’s most vulnerable populations.”

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Commission Co-chair:

“For the past three years, it has been an honor to co-chair the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education, and I appreciate Speaker Rendon’s leadership on this issue. The final report represents a truly collaborative effort with a road map to improve outcomes for our youngest learners for generations.”

Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (D-San Diego), Commissioner:

“I am pleased to be a member of the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education. I am hopeful the work my colleagues and I accomplished while serving on the commission, in partnership with experts in early childhood education, will benefit our youngest Californians and families.”

Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino), Commissioner:

“It has truly been an honor to be a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission which engaged in a forward-thinking process that was holistic, transparent, and produced an effective framework to expand our state’s greatest equalization tool: early childhood education. In creating this Blue Ribbon Commission, Speaker Rendon has established a framework that is a model for future endeavors to find solutions to our most complex policy issues.”

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Commissioner:

“California has a lot to gain by investing in early childhood education, including better futures for our kids and a stronger economy for all. The Blue Ribbon Commission report lays out a road map that will help ensure today’s youth get a great start in life, and that we have skilled providers ready to do this important work. I can’t wait to get started.”

Parvin Ahmadi, Superintendent, Castro Valley Unified School District:
“The Blue Ribbon Commission's comprehensive recommendations resulted from deep discussions and review of related research on early childhood education as well as input from all stakeholders. We sincerely hope these recommendations serve as a roadmap to ensuring ongoing improvements in the ways California's 0-5 year olds, especially those from historically underserved communities are served and set for success as they attend kindergarten and beyond.”

Nina Buthee, Executive Director, Every Child California:

“I am proud to have been a part of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s process to establish a framework for early education and care program investments for our youngest children in a systematic, thoughtful, comprehensive way. This plan will help guide future investments to reach California’s goal to provide early services to help all of our children reach their full potential. What a great opportunity to have California leading the way on ECE issues.”

Sonia Campos-Rivera, Senior Director of Education Policy and Public Affairs, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce:

“The California business community applauds Speaker Rendon and his staff for their commitment. We are pleased the business community was engaged in this effort to help ensure a successful future workforce, develop solutions for the current childcare crisis for current employees, and strengthen a critical sector of our education system: early child care providers and other members of the early childhood workforce.”

Mary Ignatius, Statewide Organizer, Parent Voices California:

“We were very proud to be part of the commission and to provide an authentic way for parent voices to be imbedded throughout the BRC process. We have a clear pathway to achieve these recommendations, now it’s time to put the plan into action!”

Deborah Kong, Program Officer for Children, Families, and Communities, David and Lucile Packard Foundation:

“One of the things that drives our grantmaking at the Packard Foundation, and which I have seen firsthand as a mom, is that the first five years lay the foundation for our children’s futures. This report recognizes the critical role that early educators and caregivers play in supporting their learning and growth. The commission was driven by the belief that that every child, no matter what neighborhood they live in, what income their families have, or what language they speak, deserves quality care and the opportunity to succeed.”

Dr. Jacquelyn McCroskey, Professor of Child Welfare and Co-Director of Children’s Data Network, USC School of Social Work:

“I'm proud that the plan lifts up the voices of parents and providers – those closest to the ground in communities who know how things work today and how they could work better for children and families. Today's system focuses a lot of attention on compliance and paperwork. We need a system that focuses on transparency and accountability, one that is easier to navigate and more focused on results. We need an effective integrated data system to support the changes envisioned in this plan. It may sound like a big lift, but this is California – we can do it.”

Tonia McMillian, Family Child Care Provider and SEIU Local 99 Member:

“As someone who has dedicated their life to caring for and educating our children, I am so incredibly proud of the work this commission has done. Most importantly, I am proud that this commission has recognized that if early educators are going to be real partners in building a strong early care and education system, then giving us the right to collectively bargain with the state is a crucial component.”

Dr. Michael Olenick, President & CEO, Child Care Resource Center:

“I feel fortunate to have been able to participate in this deep dive into creating a master plan for early childhood education in California. We left no stone unturned receiving input from numerous current and past reports, parents, providers and the entire ECE field.”

 

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