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.
Family child care (FCC) providers are business owners, educators, and community leaders, who support working parents and families with home-based holistic care and school readiness for young children. The Oakland / Alameda County Family Child Care (FCC) Policy Program is a group of FCC providers and parents interested in learning about early childhood policy, advocating for FCC providers and their businesses, and strengthening the whole field through connecting with elected officials and early childhood systems partners. OSSS, along with BANANAS and First 5 Alameda County, supports the FCC Policy Program.
Since launching in 2021, FCC providers have:
OSSS is proud to cultivate FCC provider leadership and help build these connections with electeds, public systems, and community partners. If you’d like to learn more and join these efforts, contact OSSS Policy Analyst, Trisha Barua at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For three years now, the planning team for the Oakland Early Learning Symposium has come together to create meaningful opportunities for early learning professionals to explore best practices and learn in community. This year, we wanted to continue to support best practices, while also recognizing the unique circumstances of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, preschool teachers and early childhood education (ECE) providers attending our “Let’s Talk Early Learning” informal Zoom event shared that they were seeing more behavioral challenges than usual as children returned to care and school or started in new ECE settings. Given the weight of these challenges, the planning team wanted to provide Oakland early learning professionals with resources and tools in a way that would be both fun and practical.
The planning team chose the topic of “Fostering Early Social-Emotional Learning through Books” for the first symposium event in November. Through a partnership with Tandem, Partners in Early Learning, we provided all symposium attendees with the opportunity to pick up a bag of children’s books, such as Jabari Jumps and Homemade Love, related to social-emotional learning.
Speakers at the event discussed how to choose books that are age-appropriate and how to incorporate the learnings from the books into classroom practice. Each small group facilitator then featured one of the books in breakout room discussions. One participant commented afterward, “This event was wonderful and so refreshing!” We met the planning team’s goal of creating an inclusive, immersive, multilingual literacy event.
Participants who attended the first event were clear about what they’d like to see again at the next symposium event - more books! The planning team also wanted to address one of the most pressing issues in ECE right now: lifting up multilingual learners and helping them preserve their native language while learning English.
Video: Fostering Social-Emotional Learning through Books
Video: Celebrating Multilingual Learners in ECE
With this feedback, the planning team chose the theme “Celebrating Multilingual Learners in ECE” for the May symposium event, and another book distribution was put together with help from Tandem again, along with Lotus Bloom and OUSD ECE. We included books that are wordless, in Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic. We were very fortunate to start the second Zoom symposium event with a blessing in one of the Pomo tribe languages, led by Patty Franklin and her husband from the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians.
The event featured updates on the multilingual learner programs for young children and ECE providers at the Oakland Unified School District and Alameda County Office of Education. We also heard from a family child care provider Carol Wong who provides a Mandarin immersion program at Happa Baby Day Care, as well as from Dolores Jeff who highlighted the Hintil Child Development Center’s history of educating and supporting native children.
One participant shared, “Thanks for organizing this event, books, and blessings! I also especially appreciate this symposium’s efforts to promote and support English Language Learner students and families based on research and early childhood education professional experiences.” This second symposium event succeeded at its goal of lifting up multilingual learners and their native languages, as well as spotlighting the educators who are forging a new path with multilingual education.
You can find detailed information about each of those events on our symposium webpage, including the event recordings. Keep an eye out in the early fall for information about our 2022-23 symposium events. We want to hear from you: what should our next symposium focus on? Who are the speakers you want to hear from? Email us your suggestions and ideas: EarlyLearning.Symposium@OUSD.org.