By Ericka O. Erickson, Local Child Care Planning Council Coordinator for Marin and Solano Counties
I started this month attending the First Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) Alumni Convening, which was hosted by Women’s Foundation of California on December 6th and 7th in Sacramento. I was thrilled to join over 100 representatives from various well-known social services and advocacy organizations including First 5, MomsRising, CA Child Care Resource & Referral Network, Parent Voices, and Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles.
During the two-day event, I worked with other advocates on lifting child care as a key component of economic justice. On the first day, we participated in small group discussions to outline potential collaborative advocacy strategies for 2019. We exchanged information about our work in various organizations, the bills we plan to introduce, and the support we need to be successful in our efforts.
During the second day, we headed to the Capitol to meet with elected officials and their staff members to go over the issues affecting our communities and share plans for the upcoming year. As part of a small group, I met with members from Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (4th District) and Jim Wood (2nd District). Child care issues we highlighted included:
- The availability of quality child care as part of the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program – Together with other organizations, Parent Voices is planning to sponsor a bill in 2019 to increase the time that a family is able to access immediate child care as the parent works or performs their welfare-to-work activity. By promoting stability of child care services as part of the program, parents will be better supported as they transition to re-enter the workforce.
- Availability of emergency child care services to first responders and their families as part of disaster relief efforts – With largely destructive fires happening every year in our state, it is important that we have child care as part of the support services for firefighters, nurses, doctors, and other professionals that are key to the relief efforts.
As part of the Convening follow-up, the Women’s Foundation of California launched the The Women’s Policy Institute Alumni Network: a powerful coalition of 500 policy advocacy experts who are already transforming California. They also created the WPI Alumni Advocacy Fund to support the policy change efforts of Alumni Network members all year long, including in the area of child care.
I am looking forward to continuing working in 2019 with these and other social equity advocates on lifting up child care and early education as a key to bolstering economic justice in California!