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.