The opinion piece by David Kirp is titled California’s kids need quality preschool. A new master plan can make it happen. Child Care Resource Center President and CEO Dr. Michael Olenick formally responded to Kirp’s op-ed, calling out the lack of consideration in both Kirp’s article and the state’s Master Plan for diverse child care options, especially for the youngest children. Here’s what Dr. Olenick had to say:
In today’s edition of the Los Angeles Times, David Kirp wonders why California is ranked 14th in terms of preschool accessibility. He states that California’s pre-kindergartens enroll only a third of 3- and 4-year-olds living in poverty. And, that fewer than a sixth of eligible infants and toddlers receive subsidized care. The solution to these problems as he suggests, though, is not in California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care. The master plan, while it is a step in the right direction, fails to address, among other things, the absence of care options for infants and toddlers.
No parent should have to choose between going to work and finding affordable and accessible child care for their children. California’s master plan for early care and education has surprisingly little detail on how to address the needs of child care for all children, specifically infants and toddlers. During the pandemic almost all schools closed while family child care providers risked their lives staying open serving essential working families.
Providing opportunities to find child care that keeps parents working means providing options that are flexible and convenient for families and that meet their individual needs. Overnight grocery store workers will need a different schedule than office workers or retail store clerks – none of these schedules that include nights, weekends and 10 hour work days align with the typical ‘K-12 school’ day. Family work schedules in California are just as diverse as our population and we have to do better to keep parents working. What solutions does the plan offer for varied schedules? None.
When brain development is at its most rapid, a healthy and age appropriate child care environment can contribute to positive social, emotional and physical development for our community’s children. When kids have trusted caregivers in their lives, they have infinitely more chances to succeed as productive, healthy adults. The master plan and David Kirp fail to address these issues.