Policy Updates + News

The Latest in Early Childhood Development Policy in the Monterey Area 

Now is the time for action!

2017 has begun with many advocacy efforts and now more than ever individuals can see the critical role they play in facilitating change.  Below are a variety of ways to engage in early childhood policy through information and advocacy efforts..

Click here for the latest updates and news!

Effective Advocacy Tip: Targeted Letter Writing

If you want to reach your elected officials, one effective way to have your voice heard is through letter writing. Here are some tips on how to write an effective letter:

  1. Be Clear: Stay brief, topic focused, and action-oriented.  Try to keep statements to one paragraph.
  2. Highlight Benefits: How will your legislator benefit by supporting your position?  Provide some details on why their support will not only help your organization, but their constituents as well.
  3. Include a Personal Story: When legislators talk about bills, they like to give examples of how a particular position will affect their constituency.  Personal stories illustrate how bill language translates into action.
  4. Provide a Strong Call to Action Statement: Include a final Call to Action urging your elected official  to intervene.
  5. Make it Easy for the Recipient: When you deliver messages en masse, printing a bunch of letters may be visually impactful, but make sure to include digital files for your full list. Deliver not just PDFs of your letters but a spreadsheet containing the constituents’ names and addresses that signed onto the letters so that the legislator’s staff can easily record the actions.

Adapted from the Salsa Labs Advocacy Action Toolkit.

Action: Letters of Support ASAP

Governor Jerry Brown released his FY17-18 budget at the beginning of January. The budget offers some support for families struggling to make ends meet through California’s earned income tax credit, an increase in the minimum wage, implementation of last summer’s repeal of the Maximum Family Grant for public aid recipients, and expansion of health care coverage. But there are also some major concerns. As mentioned above, for instance, as of January 1, 2017, due to  the increase in the minimum wage two parent household with both parents earning minimum wage will no longer be eligible for a child care subsidy. If our families can’t afford child care and are unable to work, our whole economy suffers.

What can you do? – Make your voice heard!

We are asking for organizations to sign onto the California Legislative Women’s Caucus’ letter showing support of the priority to fund child care and hold the Governor to his promise of continued funding.

Budget hearings have already begun. Send in your support as soon as possible.

Click here to read CLWC press statement on the budget.

Click here to sign on and send your logo.

You can read more on early childhood in the Governor’s budget on the First 5 Monterey County blog. Stay tuned for more updates and action items as the legislative session moves forward.

Legislation Lookout: AB 300 Child Care Subsidy Pilot

As a result of recent meetings with Assemblymember Caballero and her staff, Assemblymember Caballero is introducing AB 300. This bill would allow Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Cruz counties to develop and implement individualized county child care subsidy pilot plans. Similar plans in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties have created pilot programs that look to maximize allocated funding and efficiently use child care subsidy funds to meet local conditions, providing children and their families access to quality child care by lowering eligibility restrictions. Traditionally, unused child care subsidy dollars in Monterey County would go back to the state.  However, if AB 300 passes, these funds could stay in  Monterey County and expand access to child care.

Stay tuned for an update on other bills to watch for during the 2017-2018 legislative session.

Advocacy Day: January 31 Recap

On January 31, 2017, four representatives from Monterey County participated in Advocacy Day in Sacramento as champions for children. The representatives met with local state senators and assemblymembers and their staff to discuss ways to support families with young children during the 2017-2018 budget and legislative session.

Here are a few opportunities presented to the legislators:

  1. Fulfill the Child Care Promise in the budget by working to get $226 million promised during last year’s budget negotiations back into the budget for child care providers, families, and children.
  2. Work to raise the child care program eligibility standards, which are not keeping up with minimum wage increases.  Two parents now earning minimum wage in California will lose child care eligibility.
  3. Address child care provider reimbursement rates.  California is nearly a decade overdue in improving reimbursement rates to child care providers, undervaluing this important profession and eroding the supply of early care to families in our workforce.

To see the full list of action items for our state legislators click here: Supporting Families with Young Children: Opportunities during the 2017-2018 Legislative Session.

Policy Advocacy Network: Advocacy Day, January 31

Please mark your calendars and set aside January 31, 2017 to come to Sacramento for Advocacy Day. We will begin with a morning kick off breakfast, located in the Capitol Basement. A networking lunch will provide attendees an opportunity to connect with First 5 leadership from across the state. Throughout the day, attendees will visit legislators and their staff to share information about who we are and what we do for children 0-5 and their families in detail.

For more information, please click here!

Radar Alert: CA State Policy Opportunities

The California legislature has begun work on framing the legislative and budgetary priorities for the upcoming 2017-18 session. There will be many bills that will be relevant to our field, but we want to pay particular attention to a bill that did not go through last session, but will have a major impact for child care in Monterey County.

AB 60 (Santiago & Gonzalez) – Subsidized child care and development services: eligibility periods.
This bill would establish an initial eligibility and redetermination periods of not less than 12 months. Additionally, this bill will establish ongoing income eligibility to mean that a family’s adjusted monthly income is at or below 85 percent of the state median income, based on the most recent data on state median income published by the United States Census Bureau, for a family of the same size.

Advocacy with the Board of Supervisors

Every year, Bright Beginnings presents an update to the Board of Supervisors through the Monterey County Children’s Council’s Annual Report. This is an opportunity for Bright Beginnings and partners to share strengths and challenges that are having an impact on children and families with local leaders. At the presentation earlier this year, organizations and parents involved with Bright Beginnings spoke during public comment about the importance of focusing on the early years.

Click here to read more…

Looking to 2017: Policy Opportunities, New Awareness Materials and More…

2016 was a year of learning, evolution and transition for Bright Beginnings. Throughout the year, we designed personal marketing materials for each Collaborative Action Team (CAT), brought in various training opportunities based on community feedback including nationwide experts, and launched the Porque Me Amas Campaign trainings based on feedback. In the spring, the number of community Collaborative Action Teams grew when Gonzales signed on as a partner.

In 2017 we’re excited for several opportunities on the horizon, click here to learn more!

Local Policy Work in Action

We are excited to highlight this year’s Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) County fellows to share their experiences and encourage other women from our community to form a WPI-County team for 2017.

WPI-County is a leadership and policy training fellowship for county-level influencers offered by the Women’s Foundation of California. The first Monterey County WPI team, this year’s fellows included Dora McKean, Program Analyst for Monterey County Office of Education; Mayra Perez-Diaz, Community Impact Manager for United Way Monterey County; and Vanessa Robinson, Impact Coordinator for United Way Monterey County.

Click here to read more…

LCAP Opportunities

Reviewing the 2016-2019 LCAPs within the CAT regions identified six areas where opportunities exist to partner with districts in helping reach their goals.  These are common themes within all the LCAPs.  We have conducted research and have provided simple examples CAT partners could approach the district to showcase opportunities that can help their youngest students.  The examples  are a starting point for conversation and ideas are welcomed.

LCAPs reviewed: Alisal, Greenfield, Gonzales, MPUSD, North Monterey, Pajaro and Salinas City.

Local Monterey County LCAP Opportunities

2016 Legislative Update

The 2016 Legislative Session has officially concluded. September 30th marked the final day for Governor Brown to sign or veto legislation, and the final weeks of session had mixed results for early care and education. Below is brief overview of the end of session:

Bill Signed into Law:

Governor Brown signed the following bills, which will become law on January 1, 2017:

AB 2207: Medi-Cal Dental Program (Wood) – This bill requires DHCS to undertake activities to improve the Medi-Cal Dental Program, such as expediting provider enrollment and monitoring dental service access and utilization. The bill requires a Medi-Cal managed care health plan to provide dental health screenings for eligible beneficiaries and refer them to appropriate Medi-Cal dental providers.

AB 1847: CA’s Earned Income Tax Credits (Stone) – To increase participation in the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), this bill would require that employers notify employees who may be eligible for the tax credits.

Bills Vetoed:

The end of session was not without its challenges. Governor Brown vetoed a few key measures that would have helped strengthen and support vulnerable families. For example, Governor Brown vetoed Senator Jackson’s bill providing six weeks of job-protected leave to bond with a few child (SB 654), citing a potential liability on small businesses.

Additionally, Governor Brown vetoed a package of bills that would have extended tax exemptions on various household items and services, citing their cost to the state’s General Fund. This included Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez’s tax exemption on diapers (AB 717) and a diapers voucher program specifically for qualified CalWORKs families (AB 492).

New Information about Early Education Compensation

Early Education Workforce 

July 27, 2016 – As part of this week’s United State of Women Summit, the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a report on the early learning workforce.  That report, titled “High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High Quality Workforce – Low Compensation Undermines Quality,” summarizes research surrounding the compensation of childcare workers and contains recommendations for increasing pay.
The report notes that pay for childcare teachers is on par with pay for parking lot attendants and manicurists and less than salaries for tree trimmers, pest control workers, and janitors.  Though Head Start teachers earn more, the national average for childcare teachers is just over $20,000 annually.  This means that most workers qualify for federal income-based benefits including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). 
“Undervaluing the nation’s early childhood educators flies in the face of what we know about brain development and the optimal time for learning.  Educating children before kindergarten requires significant knowledge, expertise, and skill-especially in light of the critical importance of the early years for children’s growth, development, and future academic and life success,” said Secretary of Education John King in a press release.  “This report is a call to action for all of us.”
The report on pay for childcare workers is available here.

Reclassifying the Early Education Workforce

Over the summer, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) rejected a recommendation to reclassify the early education workforce as teachers, not as care givers. The Office of Child Care’s recommendation would have aligned childcare workers, preschool teachers, teacher assistants, and education administrators, preschool and childcare center/program under the same classifications of “teachers”, a change already emphasized in the workforce requirements under the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

In rejecting this request, BLS stated: “Because workers who care for children perform duties that are distinct from workers who teach children, it is appropriate to maintain the separation between childcare and education.”

If we truly value the first five years of life, we must also value those who care for our children.

September Newsletter | Policy and Advocacy Opportunities Abound

Change happens through both a ‘grassroots’ community based effort and ‘treetop’ systems and policy leader approach. Let’s explore how we can go through both strategies in relation to policy. Click here to view September’s Policy Advocacy Newsletter.