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Community Involvement In Early Education

Educational Support Services

Lauren Thorne

Certificated Sr. Grant Coordinator

Communities play an important role for young children. It is in communities that children grow and develop trusting caring relationships. Children grow emotionally, intellectually, and physically through both their relationships and through their community. Communities start at home, then in schools, neighborhoods, cities, states and into the larger world.

The National Education Association states that the popular proverb, it takes a village to raise a child, produces a clear message and that is, “the whole community has an essential role to play in the growth and development of its young people.” It’s noted that parents and family members play a vital role in the life of the child and so, too, does the entire community as a whole. CHILD CARE is an example of this shared role.

Childcare needs to become a community issue. In our county of San Luis Obispo, there is crisis growing. A crisis in the Workforce of Early Educators or lack thereof, a crisis of Affordability and a crisis of Accessibility to quality childcare programs.

  • Workforce Problem – many centers / providers are reporting a lack of qualified teachers – or if they are qualified, they cannot support themselves on the salary they would earn to be able to live in San Luis Obispo County.
  • Affordability Issue – Child care is an expensive business.  Providers need to charge rates that allow them to cover the cost of staffing, materials and supplies, facilities, insurance and licensure to name a few. These rates often translate into crippling costs for families, who may end up paying more for child care than for rent. For more on the paradox between lower wages and high rates in child care, watch a short video Why Does Childcare Cost So Much Yet Providers Make So Little by Child Care Aware of America.
  • Accessibility Challenge – The pervasive pressures of child care waiting lists are a stressful reality for many parents in our county.  In particular, our communities suffer for lack of sufficient spaces for Infant/Toddlers, Children with disabilities, Non traditional hours, and access to quality programs for all.

But things are happening. Many local agencies have gathered to dialogue about these issues and what can be done to create a countywide awareness and a sense of collective responsibility to figure out how to address the crisis. Early childhood educators and parents are connecting with business and civic leaders to spread the message and urgency of this crisis. 

Something must be done, lack of childcare affects everyone. It will take a community to solve this problem.

So please…

On May 29th, 2019 we will be convening a Town Hall for our County, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. (location TBD)
Where’s the Care?
Tackling our Local Child Care Challenge

This town hall will highlight the urgency of early child care and education issues in SLO County, including lack of accessibility and affordability for families, and a persistent workforce crisis in the early childhood education field. The evening will define and examine existing challenges, and launch concrete action planning to mobilize innovative solutions within our community. Families, employers, civic leaders, educators (early childhood, K-12, and higher education), regional planners, students, and other advocates for a thriving community are encouraged to attend. Dinner and child care provided. Free, but advance registration required.

Remember April is Month of the Child and Child Abuse Prevention Month.  There will proclamations issued at most City Council meetings, Board of Supervisors, Cuesta College Board of Trustees and County Board of Education meetings.

There will be many wonderful events throughout the County.
Saturday April 13th 2019 is “Children’s Day in the Plaza” from 10:00-3:00 at the MIssion plaza in San Luis Obispo.

Nancy Norton
Director, Early Learning Educational Support
San Luis Obispo County Office of Education

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