Quality must be at the heart of expanding early childhood education in California

January 29, 2019
Young child playing in sand with teacher

An engaged, curious, and confident child benefits from quality adult-child programs at Educare California at Silicon Valley.

Investing in comprehensive and meaningful programs for California’s youngest children gives them the best chance to become successful adults and contributing members of society. But all too often, in the urgency to serve the most children, we don’t pay enough attention to the quality of care children are receiving, and if child development benefits accrue.

Meera Mani

That’s a problem. If we really care about all children, then we must create the conditions for all children to have experiences that matter.

Quality in programs for kids means using every opportunity to help them learn and grow. When children show curiosity and joy in their surroundings you know they feel safe and eager to explore the world around them. But unfortunately, while access to early childhood programs in California has increased, access to quality programming varies across our state.

Representing a foundation that has been working on early childhood issues for decades, and as a professional who has dedicated my adult life to the wellbeing of young children, I’m excited about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s commitment to making sure every child born in California has the support, care and learning opportunities to thrive and achieve their potential. Gov. Newsom has made early childhood his signature issue and his most recent budget proposal shows that commitment.

California has a strong foundation to build on. In the last decade, local communities in California, with the support of philanthropy and their state and local First 5 commissions, have been building models for serving parents, families, friends and neighbors who care for children as well as teachers and childcare professionals. Today, California has a unique opportunity to build on lessons learned from these models and bring quality care to children across the state through:

Every year, California welcomes approximately half a million newborns. While philanthropy and advocates have made some important progress in the last decade, there is a lot more to be done. We must ensure that quality is a part of the conversation if we want the care we provide for all of our children to be meaningful, lasting and impactful.

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Meera Mani is the director of the Children, Families, and Communities program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

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