As we discussed in a previous blog post, developmental screening helps families understand a child’s development, celebrate milestones, and identify supports for delays in development. Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), First 5 Alameda County/Help Me Grow (HMG) and other partners have been expanding access to developmental screenings for young children in Oakland.
Oakland Starting Smart and Strong (OSSS) conducted a research study last year to examine the reach of developmental screening in Oakland across pediatric and early childhood education sites, and explore practices for screening and referral to services. As part of the study, OSSS reviewed data and conducted focus groups and key informant interviews with: early childhood education teachers, center directors, administrators, and the HMG Family Advisory Committee, which is made up of parents whose children have received developmental screening.
Our study found significant growth in developmental screening in Oakland among early childhood education providers and pediatric offices in Oakland. We also found that programs designed to serve families most impacted by racial and economic inequities have been particularly successful in providing access to screening. HMG’s strong technical assistance has proven critical to the effective expansion of developmental screening access in Oakland.
“Developmental screening was the first step to help me understand my children's development … it helped me understand developmental delays..." – Parent of twins, patients at Children’s Hospital Oakland
While access to screening has improved, the study found disparities in screening activity across neighborhoods and demographic groups. For example, screening rates were lower in East Oakland, reflecting the lack of access to Head Start and OUSD preschool in this part of the city.
Based on the results of the research study, OSSS convened partners to develop implementation, policy and research recommendations that will support an inclusive and effective screening, assessment and support system for young children in Oakland. These recommendations include a greater focus on specific neighborhoods and demographic groups that have had lower rates of screening, integrating screening results with kindergarten transition activities, and increasing efforts to share results and follow up with parents and caregivers.
Read the brief for more information about the study and its findings, and contact us at email@example.com if you’d like to partner with us on the next steps.
Acknowledgements: OSSS would like to thank Austin Land, PhD candidate at Goldman School of Public Policy, for conducting this research project. Our appreciation also extends to First 5 Alameda/Help Me Grow, Oakland Unified School District Early Learning Department and City of Oakland Head Start, who have shared data and provided feedback and insight.
Limitations - Data was not available for some ECE providers, home visiting services, and pediatric offices. Most demographic data is only available at the provider level, and only for 2018-19. Due to COVID-10, there were challenges with remote interviewing that led to small/limited focus groups and interviews which may not be a representative sample.
Election Day is on November 8! To help the OSSS community make informed decisions about their elected officials, we asked each candidate running for an office representing Oakland about their vision for Oakland’s Early Childhood Ecosystem. With the goal to raise awareness of ECE as an important issue, our collaborative developed a questionnaire based on “Early Childhood Education Matters in Oakland: An Informational Guide for Elected Officials and Candidates.”
***Please scroll down to see candidate responses***
We asked candidates for Oakland Mayor, Oakland City Council, OUSD School Board, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and California State Assembly these questions:
Out of the 33 candidates who received the questionnaire, 21 candidates responded! Many put a lot of thought into their responses and we appreciate the time they took to reflect upon these questions. Notably, both candidates for Alameda County Board of Supervisors for District 3, Rebecca Kaplan and Lena Tam, as well as the majority of OUSD School Board candidates completed the questionnaire. For candidates who become elected officials, the OSSS collaborative will continue the conversation to build an equitable, racially just early childhood ecosystem for Oakland’s children, families, and educators/providers.
We’re excited to share their responses with the OSSS community and hope that this information will be a resource for you!
Ballots have already been sent to Oakland voters. Make your voice heard by registering to vote, choosing your way to vote, and tracking your ballot.
Want to know your City, County, and State Assembly Districts? Look them up here:
Candidate Questionnaire Responses
Note: All candidates who were sent the questionnaire are listed below. Candidates who submitted a response have a linked document.
Family navigators are a critical part of Oakland’s early childhood ecosystem. They help families find resources to meet basic needs, address barriers in service provision, and understand many different parent perspectives. OSSS recently led a research project focused on how to support family navigators and understand their needs.
From interviews with navigators, we learned that:
The OSSS Lead Planning Team and the Oakland Family Resource Center Network has the following initial ideas about action steps:
This Spring, OSSS met with all eight Oakland City Councilmembers and their policy staff! We shared Early Childhood Education Matters in Oakland: An Informational Guide for Elected Officials and Candidates to encourage Oakland elected officials to take action on making ECE a priority by:
OSSS partners who live or work in each Councilmembers’ district joined these meetings, which included a wide range of OSSS partners: Family Child Care (FCC) providers, OUSD’s Early Childhood Education Department, Alameda County Social Services Agency, BANANAS, Lotus Bloom Family Resource Center, Unity Council, Parent Voices Oakland, Tandem Partners in Early Learning, and Kenneth Rainin Foundation.
In these meetings, we educated City Council members on how Universal Transitional Kindergarten will impact the early childhood mixed delivery system, on new public funding opportunities through Measure AA: The Oakland Children’s Initiative, on Kindergarten Readiness at OUSD, and more. FCC providers Robert E. Williams, Jr., Carolyn Carpenter, and Nancy Harvey shared their stories about how the pandemic has affected their businesses, the children and families they care for, and the need for City leaders to invest public resources in economic supports for FCC providers.
Many Oakland City Councilmembers and their staff spoke to their personal connections with early childhood education, ranging from being a Head Start parent, coming from a family of FCC providers, receiving resource and referral services from BANANAS, or previous careers as early childhood educators.
In our early meetings with City Councilmembers, our initial ask was to develop a relationship with each of their offices. As we progressed in the meetings, we learned that OSSS partners had an opportunity to make an ask of City Council for them to consider for the Oakland Midcycle Budget. We seized this opportunity to support FCC providers in providing a platform for a $2 million ask to establish a trust for an emergency fund and long-term economic supports.
Since 2021, Family Child Care providers have been making asks of County and State governments for public investment in an emergency fund to protect and retain their businesses (link to FCC blog post). FCCs face high costs and low profits, making them vulnerable to external or unexpected events, such as a pandemic or other emergencies. With this ask of the City of Oakland, FCC providers have now advocated at three levels of government, with technical assistance and support from OSSS, BANANAS, and First 5 Alameda County.
Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, and Councilmember Treva Reid addressed the FCC ask in different ways in their Midcycle Budget proposals, ranging from community grants to recommendations for Measure AA funding. In the Midcycle Budget, City Council approved budget directives to encourage the Measure AA implementation partner and advisory board to create a $2 million emergency fund to support early childhood education providers and to fund Head Start, as well as collaborate with Alameda County and child care providers to explore options for Universal Child care in Oakland. We encourage the Measure AA Implementation Partner, Advisory Board, and City Council to consider the full range of Oakland early childhood educators, child care providers, and mixed-delivery settings in their funding decisions.