Parents, child care providers, women’s advocates and others today delivered a joint letter signed by an unprecedented set of over 45 organizations, leaders and individuals calling on state legislators to support the California Assembly proposal to restore $257 million to early childhood care and learning in the annual budget. The stakeholders say they united to hold elected leaders accountable to this significant allocation as the first step to helping Sacramento lawmakers shift towards a culture of investment rather than cuts to transform California’s approach to education and economy for the next generation. The package is currently being debated in the budget conference committee before it goes to the full legislature.
The delegation brought the letter to the offices of Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez, and was led by professional child care providers who have been uniting with parents in an emerging alliance, Raising California Together. They were accompanied by leaders from the Western Center for Law and Poverty, California NOW, and the American Association of University Women.
Signers of the letter were diverse and represent stakeholders and constituents throughout the state, such as First Five Alameda, South of Market Child Care, Inc., MomsRising, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, CHIRLA, Parent Institute for Quality Education, California Labor Federation, and Kern County African American Child Care Association, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Prominent individuals and leaders also lent their endorsement, including Alison Gopnik, a Wall St. Journal columnist and coauthor of Scientist in the Crib, What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind; Sandra Fluke, the attorney and social justice advocate; and Dr. Alison Wishard Guerra, a leading academic on early brain development with a focus on Latino/a low income children’s education and a member of the National Early Head Start Research Consortium.
“We are united in a shared agenda to protect and prioritize California’s children. Having felt the devastating consequences of the $1 billion diverted from our kids and our communities, we are fighting to protect vital child care and early learning programs from further cuts, and for wise surplus investments in our littlest citizens’ future,” the letter stated.
Some noted that the organizations uniting for investment in children’s early learning under the banner of Raising California Together is critical to fix the economic and achievement gaps that have infected the state’s K-12 system.
“California must invest in brain building, and all the science and common sense point to that happening in years zero to five. The $257 million the Assembly wants to re-invest in early childhood care and education is a good start to put 48,000 more children in safe and stimulating environments that will pave their way to later achievement,” said Patty Bellasalma, president of California National Organization for Women, which helped lead the delegation. “But we need Governor Brown and the Legislature to step up and invest far more significantly in our children’s safety and success. It’s also critical to breaking barriers for working women’s equality and lifting California’s economy, and it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to lose.”
As part of a comprehensive approach to solve California’s broken system of early learning, the organizations also called on Sacramento to enact the Quality Family Child Care Act (AB641), legislation which recently passed the Assembly that would give a stronger voice to parent advocates and empower child care providers to negotiate improvements, increase access and lift the quality of care.
Parents and providers told legislators that the state could no longer afford the status quo and that investing in early childhood education and care will pay dividends to California’s children, families and the economy.
“We have to remember that providers like me are part co-parent, part front-line ‘brain builders,’ tasked with making sure California’s kids are safe and ready to start school on day one,” said letter-delegation member Lisette Knieriem, a licensed in-home provider who operates a family preschool setting out of her home in Citrus Heights and has over 20 years of professional experience. “Working parents need that peace of mind knowing their children are well cared for and are learning in the process. Making sure we raise wise children is a wise investment; the more that we invest in our children, the more we will build the entrepreneurs and executives and engineers of the future.”
In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.
–President Barack Obama
In California we were thrilled to hear President Obama propose a bold plan calling for Early Education For All. The President’s words resonated with thousands of Californians, including front-line caregivers, women’s equality groups, immigrant and civil rights leaders, child development and health experts, educators, union members, clergy, small businesses and outspoken parents from Palo Alto’s suburbs to South LA’s neighborhood justice networks. We are all committed to speaking out and uniting for reforms that will help children succeed, give parents the peace of mind that their kids are well cared for, and strengthen our economy.
In recent months, we’ve been excited to hear policy-makers across the country debating this long-ignored but vitally important issue. The reality is that children and families across that U.S. can no longer afford the status quo.
In California alone, there are 300,000 children going without child care services, many the result of cuts in recent years. Every child that stays on that waiting list instead of being in the caring hands of an early learning provider is being robbed of a critical learning opportunity. And when it comes to our littlest learners, the stakes are higher. Research tells us that 90% of a child’s brain develops by age five, in other words – it’s now or never.
Study after study shows that children enrolled in high-quality early education programs go on to perform better in elementary and secondary school, are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college, be employed, and be in good health, and are less likely to become involved with crime or in need of welfare (NWLC, 2013).
Programs that serve children in their earliest years results in the biggest “bang for our buck” and should be a cornerstone of any education policy change and financial investment.
As our children’s first teachers, child care providers and early educators are the primary ‘brain builders’ we count on to make sure our kids are ready to start school on day one. In California these front-line caregivers are working hard to make sure children are prioritized – not just in words but also in actions. Child care providers throughout the Golden State are actively involved in advocating for the latest training and oversight needed to improve the quality of child care and they are fighting for a seat at the table to help hammer out real solutions to state’s broken child care system.
Today we know children are born ready to learn. Under President Obama’s new plan, infants, and toddlers would have greater access to the key early learning opportunities necessary to succeed in life. It is time to make early education a reality for every child in America.
Child care providers and supporters attended the California Democrats Convention on Saturday to remind state policy makers how important child care is to California’s future.
Child care and early learning has been in the spotlight since President Obama made universal preschool a priority, in his State of the Union address. In the wake of this, parents, CCPU-member providers and community leaders have come together under the banner of Raising California Together, a coalition dedicated to promoting local, state, and national solutions to increase access to quality child care and early learning choices.
On behalf of Raising California Together, providers educated delegates about the severe shortage of quality and affordable child care options in California, and how this ongoing crisis is detrimental to families and the state’s economy. They then asked attendees to “raise their hand” to support increased access to affordable child care and universal preschool, by participating in an familiar art project.
Providers slathered brightly-colored paint onto delegates’ hands and pressed their hand onto canvas to leave a handprint. Providers walked participants thought the learning moments in this activity (identifying colors, counting, size comparisons, etc.) showing them how an activity like this engages young minds and helps develop curiosity. They showed them the instrumental role providers have in preparing children to learn, all before their first day of school.
Delegates then signed the canvas, and included additional messages of support. Participating elected officials included members of the State Senate, State Assembly, and State Superintendant of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson.
Recognizing the connection between early education and future success, State Senator Kevin de León said, “if we can invest in our children then we can reap the benefits later on and create a quality workforce in California.”
Assemblymember Mariko Yamada left this apt description of policymaking in her note of support: “If you’re not at the table, you’ll be on the menu.”
Supporters from local chapters of organizations like Planned Parenthood and Our Walmart, also stood up to show their support.
Providers talked in great depth about this issue, garnering support for the quality and consistent childcare and early learning options that parents, employers, and kids need to be successful.
For more information and a video from the event, check out this article:
To get the most up to date news and information on child care in California, please follow Raising California Together on Twitter:
Vien Truong, a mother and CCPU supporter from Berkeley, supports improving access to and quality of child care services. In a recent op-ed in the San Jose Mercury news, she wrote that expanding early childhood education is not just good for parents and children, but is also good for our economy because it reduces absenteeism and helps companies to innovate.
Truong wrote this letter to encourage other parents, business and community leaders to stand up for early care and education services.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi met with working mom’s, children’s advocates, and providers in San Francisco on Thursday to address the severe shortage of affordable child care options in California, which causes millions of women to struggle to stay employed.
“There is no higher priority for working parents than the success and security of their families,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “By investing in early education, supporting our child care providers, and improving access to affordable quality child care, we can help ensure hard-working women and middle class families can pursue the opportunities they deserve.”
Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521 spoke on behalf of Child Care Providers United, whose thousands of members child care providers have long advocated improved access to child care services for the working families they support. Blue expressed the hope that community members and providers could join forces and finally make change happen. Congresswoman Pelosi joined in this effort to bring together stakeholders on the issue in light of the momentum from President Obama’s State of the Union call for universal preschool.
Linda Asato, executive director of the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, said the state also has to provide adequate funding of programs and detailed the drastic cuts these programs have seen in recent years. Due to these cuts, there are 4,800 children on the waiting list in San Francisco, and 300,000 across the state.
Nancy Harvey, CCPU member and owner of Lil Nancy’s Schoolhouse in Oakland, spoke about the choices faced by the working moms and fathers who entrust their children to her every day: “The crisis we face is heartbreaking. I see it firsthand. I hear the tales, through tears and panic, of what it’s like to not have child care you can count on or afford.”
Harvey said providers like her on the front lines of ill-thought budget cuts that threaten child care quality and accessibility have been uniting together, house-calling one another, and organizing meetings with parents and employers alike because they are in the best position to advocate for improvements to the system so working men and women can return to work, contribute to the economy, and pursue higher education. “We know what works for California families. We cannot take any more cuts when quality is on the line. We need to be invested in. Providers can lead the way to fix what’s broken and save on costs so we can help more families get back to work.”
PG&E’s head of electric operations, Geisha Williams, spoke about the utility’s landmark daycare center available for children of its working parents. She said it offered employees peace of mind knowing their children are safe and being nurtured so that they can focus on their jobs.
Parent Voices leader, Mary Ignatius, whose brought her 3-year-old son to the event, said child care programs “help me not have to make a choice between being a good mother and a good employee.” Ignatius, who is expecting a second child, said day care costs for her and her husband, who both work, could go up to more than $3,000 per month combined for both children.
Other speakers included Ann O’Leary, the Vice President and Director of the Children & Families Program of Next Generation, and Noushin Mofakham, Exec. Director of South of Market Child Care, the facility that hosted the event.
Before and after the event, parents and providers had the opportunity to talk to the Congresswoman about their childcare needs and the personal challenges they have had securing and providing child care in their communities.
Community, civic, faith-based and women’s organizations such as Labor Project for Working Families, California NOW, and OUR Walmart were also present, joining the effort to strengthen investment in quality child care and early learning services for working families.
For more on the event, check out these news stories:
Last Friday, Assemblymember Rob Bonta got the chance to see first-hand how child care services improve the lives of children in his community.
Oakland child care provider, Nancy Harvey, invited Assemblymember Bonta to visit her at “Lil Nancy’s Schoolhouse” – her home-based child care business, as part of an event called Walk A Day. Walk a Day invites working people to bring elected officials into their homes or work to let them experience what they do every day. Harvey was joined by various parent clients and neighborhood supporters including Kim Kruckel, Executive Director of the Child Care Law Center and founding member of Parents Voices, and Dr. Barbara Bowman, a school principal and local church leader.
Upon arrival, Bonta got right to work getting to know the kids. He shed his sportcoat and crawled around on the carpet with the kids for dance and circle time. After dance time, the children sat attentively as the Assemblymember read to them from Dr. Seuss. The event coincided with Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America Week so the home had been carefully decorated with red, white and aqua-blue images of books, cats, and hats.
Afterward, two Lil Nancy’s staff members were ready with a surprise – lunch was green eggs and ham — the perfect conclusion to an inspiring morning for these young readers.
Before leaving, Mr. Bonta met with the parents and community members to discuss how quality and reliable child care affects their lives. A former client whose five year-old twins had attended Lil Nancy’s Schoolhouse vouched for the measurable difference that this high-quality early learning and care meant for her kindergartners. A current client whose husband was recently laid off from his job but able to pay for her infant’s child care out of her savings, expressed concern for the thousands of parents stuck on waiting lists who can’t afford child care services like they can. All the gathered agreed that all families regardless of income deserve access to affordable and high-quality child care services.
Assemblymember Bonta firmly pledged his support and vowed to advocate for solutions to child care problems in California.
It’s up to parents and providers to work together to make sure other elected officials and the public know the difference that child care makes in their lives. Why is child care important to you? Please share your story!
We are so blessed to have someone in our lives we can trust to educate and care for (our son) Frederick every step of the way. I think about all the moms who are stuck on waiting lists and contending with constant child care emergencies, or the parents who don’t have savings like we do to pay for it. Because of Nancy, I believe (my husband) Evan’s unemployment is just a temporary rough patch that we’ll be able to emerge from so we can keep our home and give our 5 month old everything he needs.
–Jenny Jackson, Oakland, CA
Following the great news of Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) donating $10 million in vital child care program funding from the Assembly’s operating budget, The Department of Education held a conference call with CCPU child care providers to explain how the new funds would be used to ensure Stage 3 families continue to receive services.
Here are the most important parts from the call:
With his actions, Speaker Perez has shown that he understands the importance of child care to working families. CCPU providers need to make sure that every legislator understands this by continuing to visit them and share our stories. Contact your organizer to find the next opportunity to visit your legislator.
Families and providers are grateful for the support from Speaker Perez, but Sacramento still has a long way to go to address the lack of funding for child care services that working families need. This is why we providers need a voice at state level so we can protect children from future cuts to child care programs.
— Marta Delgado, Los Angeles
Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) took bold action on Monday to restore $10 million in vital child care program funding. This action recognizes the importance of child care services to California’s economy, and highlights the needs of over 300,000 children who have been deprived of the care they need and are stuck on a waiting list
As a single parent, the cost of child care made it unaffordable to pursue my degree. My life changed when I was able to have access to child care. Now that I can go to school knowing my child is in a safe, loving environment where she is learning, I feel like we have the means to a better future.
—Charisse Connolly, Oakland, CA
This year’s state budget finally brought an end to years of cuts to childcare services—great news for parents who know that child care is essential to being able to go to work or school knowing their children are in familiar environments where they are safe and learning.
But cuts from the last several years have left over 300,000 children on a waiting list. Thousands of parents do not have the ability to rebuild their lives.
Now that California is no longer in a budget deficit we must take action to rebuild child care!
PROVIDERS: Please SEND THIS LINK TO PARENTS you know who rely on child care services!
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On Friday, Governor Brown released his proposed budget for 2013 through 2014. After he had announced last week that the budget deficit in California has disappeared, many parents and providers were hoping he would take the opportunity to start rebuilding child care. There are currently 300,000 children in California going without services, 100,000 of which are a direct result of the $1 billion in cuts that have happened to child care since 2008.
Unfortunately, the 2013-14 budget proposal does not take the necessary steps. Instead, the proposed budget primarily shifts money around, taking some out of Stage 2 child care and adding slight increases in funding for Stages 1 and 3.
The good news is that in this budget we’re finally seeing an end to the horrible cuts that were being proposed in recent years. But the bottom line is our governor is missing a big opportunity to boost families, women, children and the economy by ignoring much-needed reinvestment in our important programs.
Certainly many of us are relieved that we have finally ended the vicious cycle of cuts to childcare that were happening every year. Those cuts forced some of us out of business and left many families unable to work their way into a better situation. But child care has been cut 1 billion dollars since 2008, so keeping the status quo is not enough. There are too many kids going without. The time has come to rebuild child care in California!
–Carolyn Carpenter, Alameda County child care provider
The Governor’s budget proposal claims that the key goals in recent years have been to get people back to work and to invest in education. But child care and development programs are the one area of the budget that does both of these as a work support program for parents and an education program for young children.
Clearly additional action is needed this year to boost working families, women, and the economy. It’s important you get involved to help our legislators understand how important the child care system is to the future of California!
Stay tuned for more information and ways you can help.