By: Ernesto Saldana, Associate Director of Programs for Educational Equity
On Tuesday, November 27, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion to address the urgent need to increase access to early childhood education (ECE) facilities by assessing County-owned property available to be used for future ECE services.
Earlier this year, we conducted a rigorous study on ECE access in Los Angeles County that found that fifty-one percent of babies and toddlers in the County qualify for state subsidized child care, but only six percent receive it. We knew this was a grave injustice for Los Angeles’ babies and toddlers, especially those from Black and Latino families that face some of the most disparate rates of child enrollment in licensed ECE programs in L.A. County (see RACE COUNTS Los Angeles County data HERE). Racial disparities in access to early care and education programs have real consequences for the future of Los Angeles. Thankfully, Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors understood the importance to show leadership and took action by unanimously voting to pass this motion.
Supervisor Solis, the author of the motion stated, “LA County can help in this crisis by obtaining a deeper understanding of the County property available for future sites for early child care and education.” The co-author, Supervisor Janice Hahn, stated, “Too many families have had to put their children on waiting lists for overcrowded early education programs. The motion moves that the CEO has 120 days to conduct an assessment of Los Angeles County-owned property which could be used to build new early care and education facilities in accordance with state and local regulations.”
Because of this motion, child care providers like Young Horizon, a child care center in Long Beach, will be able to serve families in need of services. Young Horizons currently has over 50 babies and toddlers on the wait list. While in the past they have wanted to serve additional families, finding a stable facility is expensive, cumbersome, and time consuming. Because of this motion, centers like Young Horizons and others across the county can begin to shorten their wait lists and help families in urgent need of support. This is only the beginning. We must continue identifying usable facilities until every baby and toddler has access to a quality ECE program. The future of our city depends on it.
A group of partners, including Advancement Project California, California Community Foundation, Child 360, Child Care Alliance Los Angeles, Crystal Stairs, Early Care Alliance (formerly known as LAPAI), First 5 Los Angeles, InnerCity Struggle, Los Angeles Chamber, Para Los Niños, Partners for Children South LA, Policy Roundtable for Child Care and Development, and Stein Early Childhood Development Fund are working to increase the visibility and needs of babies and toddlers to early childhood education services and facilities in the County.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas added, “If we want to decrease the census in our jails, hospitals and our homeless shelters we need to increase our investment in early care and education.” Supervisor Kuehl raised the timely opportunity to align Los Angeles County with the state in referencing the election of new Governor Gavin Newsom and his prioritization of early childhood education. “There has not been any attention from the state for this age group, and now it looks like it might happen.”
Advancement Project California and our partners look forward to working with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to close racial disparities in access to quality early care and education programs. We are thankful for the County’s leadership in supporting Los Angeles’ families and putting our babies and toddlers on the path to prosperity.