Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Gov. Newsom releases ‘Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California for All Kids’

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Dec. 1 announced the release of the “Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California for All Kids,” which provides a strong research-based roadmap for building a comprehensive and equitable early learning and care system over the next decade.

The plan will help the state better understand the crisis families, children and early learning and care providers are facing amid the COVID-19 pandemic and identifies key policy goals to ensure that all California children can thrive physically, emotionally and educationally in their early years through access to high-quality early learning and care programs.

These goals include universal preschool, enhanced workforce development and equitable career pathways for educators and caregivers, and funding reforms to promote equitable access to high-quality early learning and care.

“Every child in California deserves a shot at opportunity,” said Gov. Newsom. “By investing in the development and learning needs of our kids, with a focus on equity, we are investing in the future of our state. The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care translates our aspirations into an actionable roadmap – one that centers on the success of our youngest Californians, their families and the communities and caregivers that lift them up.”

From the start of the pandemic in March through the end of October, the Department of Social Services estimates 2,030 family child care homes and 390 child care centers have closed permanently, making it harder for families to work and care for their children.

In light of this, the plan recommends the first steps seek to provide relief to parents, quality care for children and stability to child care providers as the state rebuilds an early learning and care system weakened by COVID-19. Now more than ever it is clear how important child care is to the state’s overall economic recovery.

Released by the California Health and Human Services Agency, the Plan was a collaboration of a number of experts and practitioners from WestEd, the RAND Corp., Child Trends, American Institutes for Research, Glen Price Group, the Neimand Collaborative, Low Income Investment Fund, Stanford University and SparkPlace.

In addition, the Social Policy Research Associates and Parent Voices were instrumental in engaging families pre-COVID for this project.

The Early Childhood Policy Council also provided important input such as access to 3,000 public participants, including over 300 Spanish speakers, and joining various council meetings and discussions throughout this year.

The plan builds upon the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission report and others and is rooted in the understanding that access to high-quality early learning and care improves outcomes for all children and families and helps address racial and economic inequities. The plan outlines specific recommendations for creating a comprehensive, family-centric system driven by equity, including:

– Unifying programs for infants and toddlers and improving access to Paid Family Leave;
– Providing universal preschool for all 4-year-olds and income eligible 3-year-olds and those with disabilities;
– Prohibiting suspensions and expulsions in subsidized early learning programs, which has disproportionately impacted young Black boys;
– Supporting the development of dual language learners who represent 60 percent of California’s young children;
– Building a licensure and workforce development system based on the knowledge and skills of the workforce that supports and rewards the workforce;
– Implementing funding reform to address regional cost of care differences, help sustain a high-quality workforce and allow for sliding fees for more private-pay families to participate;
– Growing shared services networks to support child care providers and help their small businesses grow; and
– Improving data sharing to advance equity, efficiency and continuous improvement.

“The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care unlocks the innovative spirit of California, helping us create a comprehensive early learning and care system that produces big returns in better education, health and economic outcomes,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services. “Children, families, the future for our state – everyone wins when we build a California for All Kids.”

Transforming California’s early childhood system will take time, funding and partnerships with the federal government, philanthropy and business leaders.

California’s philanthropic community has long sought a comprehensive early learning and care system. In fact, $2.9 million in public-private partnership funding has already been committed, including investments from the Heising-Simons Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, First 5 California, the Silver Giving Foundation and the Ballmer Group.

The announcement follows previous investments made to support the child care needs of families and support the child care workforce. The governor, in partnership with the Legislature, has allocated over $500 million in federal funds to increase access to child care vouchers, waive family fees and support the child care workforce with PPE and additional funding for non-operation days and increased costs for caring for school-aged children. New federal funds are critical to help the state recover.

In addition, a new administration in Washington presents an opportunity to increase funding and accelerate implementation. California’s research-based Master Plan aligns with the early care and learning proposals made by President-elect Biden during his campaign. Recommendations from the Master Plan position the state to implement a wide range of anticipated federal initiatives related to state expansion of high-quality early learning and care.

The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care can be read here.

For more information, including supplemental research and policy briefs, visit the interactive Master Plan for Early Learning and Care website at https://californiaforallkids.chhs.ca.gov.

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