Early Learning Symposium 2020-2021, Navigating the New Now: Child Care During Covid-19 Event Summaries
Part I Summary: Reopening Child Care Safely
Part I of this four-part series took place on August 29th and included tips from providers who are currently open, plus updates from Alameda County Public Health and Alameda County Emergency Child Care Response Team.
We recorded the whole workshop - you can find it HERE as well as useful links. For a summary of the discussion plus useful links, head to our blog.
Background on the Early Learning Symposium
The Early Learning Symposium was born out of a collaborative effort that included OUSD, Oakland Literacy Coalition, Oakland Starting Smart and Strong, BANANAS, City of Oakland Head Start/Early Head Start, Alameda County Office of Education, First 5 Alameda County, YMCA of the East Bay, St. Vincent's Day Home, and the New Teacher Center. The inaugural event in 2019 resulted in 350 participants attending. The diversity of participants included teachers, instructional assistants and directors from Head Start and state funded programs, family child care providers, and informal care providers. More detail on the 2019 event here.
Oakland Early Learning Symposium 2020-2021
The COVID-19 crisis has dramatically impacted the Oakland early learning community. Now more than ever there is a need to bring early care and education professionals together to provide support, learning, and community. Therefore, this year, the Early Learning Symposium will be a series of four online workshops over the year that will focus on the COVID-19 crisis and how providers can learn from and support each other during this difficult time.
Navigating the New Now: Early Learning During COVID-19 will begin with an online workshop focused on providing support to early childhood professionals on reopening childcare, addressing health and safety concerns and sharing best practices for providing care during COVID. There will be opportunities for educators to connect with each other between the four workshops to share information and resources, and solicit feedback and input.
Part II Summary: Online Learning and Family Support
Part II of this four-part series took place on November 14th and focused on online learning and family support. It included information on how the Oakland Unified School District is providing preschool online and practical tips for holding zoom classes. It also featured guidance from the City of Oakland, Head Start on online learning and how family child care providers are managing distance learning. Participants also learned how to keep connected to families using outreach and online tools.
We recorded the whole workshop - you can find it HERE as well as useful links to resources and compiled questions and answers. For a summary of the discussion, head to our blog.
Part III Summary: Connecting Families to Resources
Part III of this four-part series took place on February 27th and focused on providing information to early learning professionals on linking families to services and resources in the Oakland community to meet their basic needs. It included information on community based organizations sharing about their services for families, tips on helping families navigate resources and services in their community, and how to build trusted relationships with families to support them through difficult times. Speakers included representatives from Roots Community Health Center, Mandela Family Resource Center, Lotus Bloom, Family Paths, BANANAS and First 5 Alameda County.
We recorded the whole workshop - you can find it HERE as well as useful links to resources.
Part IV Summary: Celebrate and Reflect
The fourth and final workshop of the year took place on May 19th and included reflections from the Oakland Unified School District, City of Oakland’s Head Start program, YMCA of the East Bay, and Family Child Care Providers on lessons learned from providing early childhood education during the pandemic and what new practices they will carry forward to the future. There were two tribute videos for early learning professionals from our community and elected officials:
We recorded the whole workshop HERE.
Information about summer activities for young children was shared with participants and are below:
Help us plan for the next Oakland Early Learning Symposium!
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Oakland Starting Smart and Strong’s Policy & Advocacy work seeks to undo the systemic racism embedded in the field of early care and education through greater support for this workforce -- which is composed primarily of women of color -- and through making child care more accessible for each and every family. With child care funds from the American Rescue Plan coming soon -- and with the possibility of unprecedented support for early care and education through the American Families Plan -- OSSS is laying the groundwork now to ensure that families and child care professionals most impacted by the pandemic have a seat at the table in reimagining early childhood systems that work for all. Here’s what we’re weighing in on.
Family child care providers building community power
Family Child Care providers have served a critical role as educators and community leaders during the pandemic, remaining open to provide care for the children of essential workers and working families. The Oakland Family Child Care (FCC) Policy Program is making sure these providers’ voices are heard in policy and budget conversations. This program’s Planning Committee is led by a diverse group of FCC providers and parent advocates, who are supported by BANANAS, First 5 Alameda County, and OSSS.
Since February 2021, committee members have been meeting regularly to discuss the impact of COVID19 on their livelihoods and the families they serve, identify advocacy priorities, and learn about state and federal policies that impact family child care. The Planning Committee organized its first Community Conversation on Advocacy for Oakland/Alameda County providers, which featured a panel discussion where providers talked about what advocacy means to them, community building through Valley Family Child Care and Alameda Professional Child Care Associations, and labor organizing through Child Care Providers United. Check out this FCC policy and data information sheet in Chinese, English, and Spanish.
To stay up to date on upcoming Community Conversations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Budget Advocacy for Oakland’s Mixed Delivery Early Childhood System
It’s state budget and legislative season -- and California is in the midst of plans for recovery from the pandemic. As always, there are a lot of moving parts, but what stays constant for OSSS is our advocacy for a budget grounded in racial and economic justice that supports working families and their children, fairly compensates educators who are critical for our state’s economy, and centers the Oakland communities who have been most impacted by the pandemic.
Addressing Gov. Newsom’s early childhood proposals in this year’s state budget, OSSS sent a Budget Letter along with a One-Page Overview to our local legislators: Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Senator Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks. OSSS partners -- including BANANAS, Oakland Unified School District, First 5 Alameda County, Alameda County Social Services Agency, St. Vincent’s Day Home, Lotus Bloom Family Resource Center, Hellman Foundation, and providers on the Oakland FCC Policy Program Planning Committee from Blessed Beginnings Daycare and Shruti’s Family Daycare -- also recently met with the offices of Rob Bonta and Nancy Skinner.
In these meetings, we emphasized that child care providers are skilled educators who keep the economy running and that families need a variety of child care options and settings. We discussed the importance of maintaining what’s known as a “mixed-delivery system,” which includes the full range of private and public early care and education programs and settings, ranging from family child care homes, friend/family/neighbor caregivers, child care centers, public early education through Head Start and school districts, and neighborhood family resource centers. Because children’s and families’ needs vary -- based on work schedules, culture and language, developmental stage, and more -- a one-size-fits-all approach will not fit all families.
With proposals to expand Transitional Kindergarten likely to move forward after the May Revise to the budget on May 14, we’ll keep an eye on implementation and continue to work with our partners to elevate parent and provider priorities.
Click here to sign up for the CAPPA Monday Morning Update to track budget and legislative news. First 5 Alameda and Child Care Law Center are additional resources for policy and advocacy updates.
Want to learn more, or join our advocacy efforts? Contact Trisha Barua, OSSS Policy Analyst, at email@example.com.
At the Oakland Early Learning Symposium workshop held on February 27, direct service staff from community based organizations provided up to date information on how child care providers and preschool teachers can refer families to everything from mental health consultations to free diapers, right in their own neighborhood. One participant commented, “the symposium was great, and a perfect opportunity to learn about resources that are available to families who need support during these challenging times.” Watch the video recording of the workshop.
A new component to this year’s symposium series is “Let’s Talk Early Learning.” Born out of the desire to replicate the support and community felt at the 2019 in-person symposium, these are informal, virtual drop-in sessions planned and facilitated by OUSD preschool teachers Annette Wright, Jacquetta Wallace, and Nini Humphrey. Says Annette Wright, “It’s an informal space where if there are problems or issues you are having, you can bring them to our small groups and know it’s confidential. It’s an opportunity to share and give each other resources, making all of our jobs easier.”
At the last drop-in session, some of the participants voiced apprehension about returning to in person learning. We quickly pulled together a Let’s Talk session with medical professionals from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and UCSF’s Center for Child and Community Health. At this session, over 150 early learning professionals received information about COVID-19 in early learning settings and got their questions answered about COVID transmission, vaccines and variants. Learn what we learned here.
The last symposium event of the year is on Wednesday, May 19. We’ll be celebrating and reflecting on how the early learning field in Oakland has risen to the occasion this year -- and how we will continue to do so in the next. Register here!