Great things happen when we unite our efforts in service of our young children. Here’s some of what Oakland Starting Smart and Strong and our collaborative members are up to.
From Grief to Action: Shifting Power, Shifting Resources: We mourn the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Erik Salgado, and far too many others who have lost their lives to a racist system and society. We stand with our Black communities in Oakland and across the country to fight institutionalized racism and injustice. We recognize the devastating disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black and Brown communities. This moment calls for long term, large scale responses that shift power and resources to communities of color in order to build a just society.
Final budget decisions are being made this week in the state and likely soon in Congress, so NOW is the time for early childhood advocates, parents, and caregivers to make our voices heard. Learn more and take action.
Thanks to our funders at the Hellman Collaborative Change Initiative for creating a new video to share how we are focused on supporting every young child in Oakland. Children of color often don’t have access to resources and experiences that their white peers have; our broad-based collaborative aims to change this. Watch the video to see how!
Affordable Housing Shortage in Oakland Two recent articles illuminate how the affordable housing shortage in Oakland is impacting early education -- and how that impacts kids.
As the article states, “It’s more than just finding affordable housing; the stress can impact (the provision of) care. Early childhood is a crucial time for learning and brain development, which depends on stable relationships with skilled teachers and caregivers, experts say. And research finds that the economic stress can impact teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom."
The article also tells a great story about a boy at BANANAS who finally felt at home when he could play in a play kitchen. A BANANAS staff member helped his mom enroll him in a Head Start program. The staffer was pleased to be able to offer the boy a stable place to learn, every day: “It was so special to me because I just saw how the child completely found something he was motivated in doing,” (she) said. “It made me feel good that she was able to get the service, because in their situation, that consistency wasn’t broken and it wasn’t lost.”
Children’s Health and Child Care Initiative Alameda County health and child care advocates are collecting signatures to get a Children’s Health and Child Care Initiative on the March 2020 ballot. If placed on the ballot and approved by voters, this initiative will generate $150 million annually to expand access to free and low-cost health and child care through Children’s Hospital Oakland and numerous child care providers across the country. Please see these Fact Sheets in English and Spanish for more information. There are upcoming volunteer trainings in Oakland, Hayward, and Pleasanton, as well as a kick-off volunteer event on October 5, 2019.
Growing State Support for Our Growing Children by Ellen Dektar, Alameda County Early Care and Education Program
It’s a historic year for Governor-initiated early childhood education (ECE) proposals. Among $2 billion in funding proposals for programs serving young children and their families, Governor Newsom has proposed $490 million in infrastructure funding. $245 million would upgrade or establish child care facilities, and $245 million would be to substantially increase professional development. He has also proposed to work toward universal preschool, by adding 10,000 full-day full-year state preschool slots for low-income four year olds through community-based organizations.
In his “May Revise” update, the Governor added $54.2 million annual funding and $40.7 million for a guaranteed 12 months of eligibility for child care for families participating in CalWORKs, as well as and protections against being dropped in transition to different “Stages” of the CalWORKs child care program. Other major proposals included $80 million for school-aged care from cannabis tax funds, and $12.8 million for emergency child care vouchers for families in crisis.
The current understanding is that professional development would be expanded using the “AB 212” program as a platform. In Alameda County, this roughly $700,000 state-funded program that provides teachers in Title 5 centers with stipends for professional development is administered by the Alameda County ECE Program. It served over 750 staff last year. The specific mechanism to broaden the program to licensed family child care homes and other providers, as well as other budget proposals, is still being determined. The ECE field and Legislative Women’s Caucus, as well as Speaker Rendon with his new Blue Ribbon Commission proposals, are expected to be players.
Additionally, the Governor has made significant proposals to address the needs of the “whole child” and “whole family” through $200 million in screening proposals, $50 million for child savings accounts (similar to Oakland’s Brilliant Baby accounts with details to be developed), $348 million to raise the level of CalWORKs grants, additional home visiting funds, and a proposal to increase the eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
To track the status of legislation and budget impacts on Alameda County, follow @AlaCoChildCare. Tracking Progress You can find a summary of the bills Early Edge is tracking here. They’ve also created an at-a-glance summary of the May Revise budget. To stay informed of all hearings, amendments, and actions taken on bills, go to California Legislative Info.
We're excited that the Governor Gavin Newsom is proposing significant expansion of services for babies and toddlers. In this piece in EdSource, Meera Mani of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation makes the case that California can learn from what Oakland Starting Smart and Strong and other community-wide efforts are discovering about how to create a quality pre-kindergarten system.
Here are some helpful tips on choosing a preschool from the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.
Narrow Loss for Alameda County’s Child Care Measure Over 215,000 Alameda County residents voted in support of a sales tax for child care in June 2018. However, the votes were less than half a percentage point from the ⅔ needed, at 66.2%. Unfortunately, Measure A, the Alameda County Child Care and Early Education Measure, did not pass. On July 24th, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors (BOS) voted to table the measure and not put it back on the ballot this November. While it did not pass, a motivated and dedicated coalition of labor, elected officials, parents, policy advocates and funders came together to work on providing safe, quality, affordable childcare and preschool. Building upon this momentum, the coalition is discussing placing a similar measure on the 2020 ballot. In the meantime, the coalition will explore lessons learned and steps that can be taken in the future to win even wider support for this type of measure. The leadership and collaboration developed in support of quality child care throughout the County is a significant accomplishment, one we’ll build on for the future!
Families Belong Together, and Not in Cages Family separations and family detention are of grave concern to all of us who care about the safety, development, and health of young children. First 5 Alameda County recently adopted aresolution opposing the presidential administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Two resources for more information on child advocates’ response to these inhumane practices are theYoung Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights andKids in Need of Defense (KIND).
A banner created by parents at OUSD's Brookfield Pre-K shows their hopes for their children. The pink heart reads: “I hope my daughter grows up to be a wonderful person.”
Learning to Lobby Nonprofits serving the community have crucial information that lawmakers need to hear!
In February, Oakland Starting Smart and Strong sponsored “Standing Up and Speaking Out”, a lobbying 101 webinar by Alliance for Justice (AFJ). Sara Matlin from AFJ provided information on IRS lobbying limits and definitions and on organizations’ rights to advocate for community change.
Nonprofits could and should lobby - they just have to stay within their annual lobbying limits, track and report lobbying.
The IRS 501(h) lobbying election can provide nonprofits with a straightforward way to measure their lobbying, by setting specific dollar limits and clear definitions of lobbying.
Many activities that can influence policy do not even count as lobbying
OSSS invites partners who would like more information about lobbying to contact AFJ directly, for free coaching and resources: 866-675-6229 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kym Luqman, ED of Bananas, OSSS Exec Committee member, testifying at Alameda County Board of Supervisors hearing
Meeting the Basic Needs of Children and Families Public and non-profit agencies struggle with how to provide their services when the families they work with have unmet needs for food, housing, clothing, and/or transportation.
In February, we hosted a Task Force dedicated to addressing basic needs on a policy and practical level. Jessica Bartholow from the Western Center for Law and Poverty opened the discussion by offering information and insights on federal and statewide policy issues impacting low-income families.
The Task Force also included a presentation on Healthy Food, Healthy Families, an initiative of All In Alameda County, which is addressing food insecurity and food consumption. Interested in joining the Oakland Starting Smart and Strong Task Force? Visit this page to sign up or for more information.
Kelvin Dunn, Lisa Truong, Dan Kelly, and Jessica Bartholow present on addressing diaper needs.
Big Step Forward for Alameda County Initiative By Sonya Mehta
For months, a large and diverse coalition of policy makers, early childhood education experts, parents, caregivers, labor leaders, community organizes, and advocates has been working tirelessly to design a ballot initiative that would double the amount of funding for the subsidized preschool and child care system in Alameda County. The Child Care and Early Education Initiative focuses on improving access (through thousands of additional scholarships and support for families to find great care), quality (more resources for provider coaching and professional development, participation in Quality Counts), and wages of providers who do this critical work. The initiative, if passed by Alameda County voters, would be the largest public investment in California’s children since Prop 10 passed in 1998 and created our state’s First 5 Agencies.
We’re proud that in February, after hearing public comment from dozens of supporters of the measure, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously (5-0) to place the initiative on the June 2018 ballot! Though the work is by no means done, this was a huge moment for the field.
Oakland Starting Smart and Strong is featured in an Early LearningLab article on training early childhood educators to work with children's trauma. In the fall of 2017, our new Trauma-Informed Practices project kicked off with a gathering of early childhood educators from the City of Oakland Head Start and the Oakland Unified School District, who came together to learn about practices and strategies that build on children’s strengths within their environment to support their health and healing. The training reached maximum capacity just days after being made available. To meet the demand, there are already plans to offer additional trainings to more teachers.
New America has launched a multimedia guidebook for transforming the Early Education Workforce. Included in the guidebook is a beautiful video (watch below) about the partnership in Oakland between Lotus Bloom and Allendale Elementary School to provide early learning programs that benefit children ages birth to 5 and their family, friend and neighbor caregivers. Also included is a video on early childhood education teacher wellbeing, highlighting teachers at a preschool in West Oakland, and featuring experts from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and Alameda County Early Care and Education.