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What Do You Think Of This Plan To Fix California's Early Learning System?

(Thomas Kienzle/AP)
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The tangled web of programs responsible for the care and education of the roughly 3 million California kids ages 0-5 is unwieldy and underfunded. Families languish on waitlists for subsidized child care, funding streams for programs are complex and confusing, quality varies widely and pay for child care providers is among the lowest of any profession.

With the goal of bringing order to the chaos, the state assembly formed a Blue Ribbon Commission on early childhood education two years ago.

After eight public hearings and countless subcommittee meetings, the commission unveiled a draft report of their recommendations this week.

Now's your chance to chime in. Commission members will present the recommendations at a hearing in Sacramento on Monday and take public comment. You can stream the hearing here. And you can email feedback to until March 20. The final report is scheduled for released in April.

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It's an extremely detailed document (the summary alone is 18 pages long) that covers 10 categories:

Governance and Administration - This is about establishing state and local councils, divisions and offices that are to include stakeholders from across the early childhood education spectrum as changes are rolled out.

Family Engagement - Parent voices are key to policy. Takeaway quote: "No new program or policy should be implemented without the input of parents who are directly affected."

Access for Children and Families - This category lays out a series of short-, mid- and long-term goals for increasing access to and affordability of child care and preschool, with low-income families prioritized.

Workforce - These recommendations cover everything from collecting data on qualifications and pay, to support collective bargaining rights for home day care providers. Key quote: "Standards for the ECE workforce cannot be increased until compensation levels are raised."

Quality Improvement - This section is focused on recommendations for how to assess programs, connect funding levels to quality and improve training for the workforce.

Systems and Infrastructure - This category examines how to best align and streamline the complex early childhood system. It is focused on everything from disaster preparedness to licensing to creating equity among the various forms of subsidies providers receive.

This is an example of how complicated funding streams are just in L.A. County. (L.A. County Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education)

Facilities and Supply - What about the physical space that kids are in? This section recommends a first step of mapping state facilities to determine the supply and areas in need.

Coordination and Alignment - This is focused on ways to coordinate efforts between all of the providers of early childhood education -- school districts, Head Start, tribal child care, the state's First 5 agencies, etc.

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Financing - How to pay for it all! This section lays out short-, mid-, and long-term goals for funding on the family, state and federal levels.

Parent Focus Group Recommendation Summary - This is a summary of four focus groups held across the state -- there are 30 points here alone! These suggest ways to help parents learn about child care and subsidy eligibility and how to select the right provider.

As these recommendations are finalized, they'll be under the close watch of Gov. Gavin Newsom. He made big promises about investing in early childhood on the campaign trail and has proposed nearly $2 billion in (mostly one-time) funding for those programs in the January budget.

Explore the full draft report here:

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