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State and Local Resources to Support Early Learning and Care


By Esther Nguyen

In March 2020, California’s Stay Home order forced most non-essential businesses to close. While early learning and care (ELC) programs have been permitted to stay open, prioritizing child care for essential workers, roughly 9,300 licensed-child care providers still had to shut their doors due to safety concerns or lack of enrollment, eliminating approximately 19,000 child care spots in the state. As essential workers and most working families grapple with child care needs, especially as K–12 schools are largely using distance learning, it is clear that:

  1. The women of color who comprise the majority of the child care workforce are the essential workers to the essential workers and, therefore, critical to the state economy, and;
  2. More resources and coordinated supports are needed to ensure we have a thriving early learning and care system that families can depend on now, and into the future.

In hopes of addressing the impacts of the pandemic, state and local leaders have developed some tools, systems, and resources to support early care educators and caregivers through this time. Some of these efforts are outlined below.

Statewide Resources

California for All Kids: Early Learning and Care Playbook: Developed by the California Department of Education and West Ed, this playbook centralizes information for providers and families in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For providers, this includes information such as state operating guidelines under the pandemic and quality care and learning tips. For families, it includes resources such as links to 24/7 immediate support and recommendations for caring for children at home. MyChildCare is an interactive website that identifies nearby, local child care providers. Additionally, through this search engine, families can get more program details such as availability of slots, health and safety information, and the affiliated resource and referral network.

$50 Million To Support Child Care Providers: Governor Newsom set aside $100 million to support early childhood, and of that, $50 million was allocated toward cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other labor costs associated with adhering to COVID safety regulations for providers to essential workers. The California Department of Social Services acquired PPE from the Office of Emergency Services and were able to distribute them to local resource and referral agencies (R&R) to give out to ELC providers in need.

Examples of Los Angeles Area Resources

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Telebriefings for Early Care and Education: To keep local providers up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 statistics and changes to health and safety guidance, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH)  holds telebriefings every other week for early learning and care programs. Topics include health and safety updates for program enrollment and operations, exposure management plans, and other guidance as the pandemic evolves.

Los Angeles County Early Childhood Education COVID-19 Response Team: This team supplements the DPH telebriefings with Community Calls that provide more specificity on financial aid, implementation of protocols, and other supports available for licensed early childhood programs. The response team is a countywide collaborative representing various early learning and care stakeholders and community-based organizations.[1]

Los Angeles County Child Care Provider Grant Program: The County of Los Angeles allocated $5 million of CARES funding to provide $40,000 grants to licensed child care centers and $10,000 grants to family child care home providers. The grant targeted licensed programs based in LA County not administered by Local Education Agencies. Programs within the City of Los Angeles could access a separate grant program (see below). More information on the County’s program can be found at

The City of Los Angeles Early Care and Education Investments: The Los Angeles City Council approved $30 million for early care and education. To fund 3 main initiatives:

  1. $10 million for vouchers for low-income families to access child care.
  2. $10 million to launch ECE programs through the Department of Recreation and Parks.
  3. $10 million for grants for licensed-child care providers within the City of Los Angeles to help with reopening programs and covering additional costs associated with the pandemic.

Details on the distribution of grant money and vouchers are available at

What is clear is that during a time of great need, state and local leaders were able to work quickly to develop resources for families and for early learning and care providers. It’s also clear that more state and local leadership and investments are needed to sustain the early learning and care field through the pandemic and post-pandemic recovery.

The stories from the early learning and care field described in this blog series show us that child care providers are struggling to stay afloat. These essential workers to our essential workers are overworked, under-compensated, and fearful for their own safety. Many are paying out of pocket to respond to the increased safety requirements. Some now have additional, new duties supporting school-aged children engaged in distance learning while in their care, which has added an incredible amount of stress.  

As the pandemic persists much longer than expected, we need to build on state and local resources to ensure they reach all providers—especially those in high- and highest-needs communities. It is critical to engage these women of color on the front lines to understand their experiences and needs to design resources and systems that serve them well and ensure they are thriving. Because when they thrive, so do our children, our families, and our state.

Advancement Project California launched our early learning and care blog series to show how California has the opportunity to take bold steps to build an early learning and care system that addresses the foundations of systemic racism, racial equity, and economic justice. Read more below, and check back daily through January 29th for new updates.

[1] The Los Angeles County Early Child Education COVID-19 Response Team comprises of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, County Department of Public Health — Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education, First 5 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Unified School District, Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, Child Care Resource Center, Greater Los Angeles Education Foundation, Child360, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, Center for Strategic Partnerships, and various other child care resource and referral agencies.