Northridge, CA – Amidst the ongoing debates surrounding the upcoming California gubernatorial election and the continual national discussion regarding Early Childhood Education (ECE) and funding, Child Care Resource Center (CCRC) found it timely to focus their 27th Annual Policy Forum on those topics. At the sold out event held at California State University, Northridge, leaders in the ECE community gathered to apprise and inspire attendees to action.
“I really wanted to challenge the panelists and the audience to dissect the challenges that the combination of universal preschool, transitional kindergarten and early transitional kindergarten have on the private child care industry, Head Start and the rest of the subsidized child care market. Our collective community efforts are on the rise but we can do better – and, these are the conversations that will get us there,” related Dr. Michael Olenick, President & CEO of CCRC.
Dr. Olenick moderated the discussion between four great panelists: Christopher Maricle (California State Head Start Association), Nina Buthee (California Child Care and Development Administrators Association), Valerie Denero (Californians for Quality Early Learning), and Jamie Menendez-Adamski (a Los Angeles based family child care (FCC) provider).
Funding was a lively topic of discussion and is a growing concern in the ECE community. Studies show that although funding for State Preschools has increased by 37% from 2008/09 to 2016/17; General Child Care and Alternative Payment (AP) funding has decreased by 34%. As a result, FCC providers are serving less children because they are not receiving sustainable funding.
“We saw a tremendous loss of spaces and funding during the Great Recession and where we are seeing those funds being put back into the system, almost all are exclusively [going] into Local Education Agencies. What does that mean for privatized child care businesses – they’re seeing a loss. Their four years olds [are now] being served within the school districts that traditionally did not have a preschool program,” panelist Nina Buthee explained.
All four panelist agreed that the K-12 system was not fundamentally created to serve preschool aged children. Nor was it meant to accommodate parents’ schedules which may include non-traditional work hours (nights and weekends). Parents are now having to turn away from family child care providers and to the K-12 school system and other non-Licensed FCC programs. We are witnessing parents trade in developmentally appropriate and quality driven child care for convenience and affordability. Read more here.
Pete Weldy, External Relations Officer for the Center for Early Learning in Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), wanted to make sure the conversation did not stop at CCRC’s forum. Weldy represents a group of California citizens that want to ensure that the next gubernatorial race addresses the problems facing the ECE communities and closed his remarks letting the audience know that the issues discussed at the event were the very ones he wanted the next governor to prioritize.
With that, Dr. Olenick charged attendees to continue the discussion about universal preschool, transitional kindergarten, child care affordability and child safety within their own circles and strategize how to better serve our young learners.