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Uplifting Family Voices: Family Engagement in California’s Rate Reform & Quality Initiative.

uplifting family voices

Today, Catalyst California (formerly Advancement Project California) released Uplifting Family Voices: Family Engagement in California’s Rate Reform & Quality Initiative. This powerful new report elevates the voices of families with young children, particularly those from historically underserved communities of color across the state. The report was informed and guided by core partners, Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors and California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, and offers insights from families to inform California’s decisions on rate reform and quality that can eradicate systemic barriers rooted in racism, sexism, and classism, and ensure the system is fully resourced and designed for California’s diverse children to thrive. 

California currently funds early childhood programs with a reimbursement system that reflects  the price of care rather than the true cost of care–therefore, child care providers are not receiving the full resources they need to take care of the state’s youngest children. The burden for child care providers that serve low-income families is especially difficult as they cannot charge more to cover the full cost of care. Institutionalizing these low rates perpetuates economic and racial inequities and essentially keeps the ECE field at poverty wages and limits opportunities for families.  

This moment provides the opportunity to recognize and rectify historic racial and economic inequities in early childhood that impact child care providers and families. Therefore, it is imperative that families directly inform the state’s decisions so that the system can provide quality programs that meet the needs of California’s diverse families.

Catalyst California partnered with 20 grassroots organizations, engaged nearly 4,000 family survey respondents, and carried out 14 focus groups that reflected the voices of Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander, South Asian, and Indigenous/Native American families, including parents from rural, low-income, farmworker, immigrant, and refugee communities. Families shared their hopes for their children, their child care needs, experiences with finding child care, aspects of quality child care they wanted for their children, and what support they needed.

These discussions with families made it clear that authentic partnerships and trust are the foundation of quality and that it is critical to use a whole child approach to provide holistic support to children and families. To provide the quality programs families need, the state must use an alternative method to developing rates that ensures that child care providers have adequate resources that cover the true cost of high quality care that include the elements of quality that are important to families. Additionally, a supportive infrastructure must be created so that providers across the mixed delivery system can deepen their expertise in and prioritize the aspects of quality that matter to families. The elements of quality that families uplifted include:    

  • Promoting authentic family engagement, partnership, and communication between child care providers and families
  • Fostering a sense of safety and belonging and a loving and nurturing environment for all children
  • Engaging in culturally and linguistically affirming practices, and responsive interactions and instruction that prioritize socio-emotional development, are play-based and developmentally appropriate and provide consistency, continuity, and structure for children
  • Providing a program structure that supports families’ needs (e.g, quality, access, affordability, full hours of care needed, transportation, nutritious food, and potty training) 
  • Strengthening whole child, whole family support (e.g., holistic needs including physical and mental health/wellbeing, development and growth, nutrition, housing, and economic security)

Read the full report