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Child care training and retention programs get state Prop. 10 funds through PACE office at UC Berkeley
14 Dec 2000

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - A University of California, Berkeley-based center has selected six programs to receive $4.2 million in state funds to boost the number of preschool teachers and child care providers in an era of unprecedented shortage and increasing demand.

"Especially in this economy, providers are leaving at a rapid rate. So, it's a crisis in this state," said Elizabeth Burr, project manager with the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) center at UC Berkeley.

PACE was chosen by the California Children and Families Commission as the lead agency for a two-year child care initiative to expand the licensed child care workforce. The California Children and Families Commission, established under state Proposition 10 in 1998, oversees expenditure for early childhood programs of $700 million a year raised by a 50-cent-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

PACE aims to collect solid evidence of what does - and does not - work in programs that promote child care workforce expansion and retention. It will make recommendations to the commission about how to effectively expand child care provider training and how better to keep child care providers in the profession.

Licensed child care in California meets less than a quarter of the estimated need for care of children ranging in age from infancy to 13 years, according to PACE. The center has found in earlier research that insufficient infant care and after-school care in the evenings and on weekends is exacerbated by an unprecedented number of preschool teachers and child care workers leaving the field.

"We're losing so many providers," said Burr, tracing the problem to the average child care worker's poverty level earnings of $14,000-a-year and mandated class size reduction, which has spurred some providers to leave for better paying elementary school jobs.

From 20 proposals to help solve the problem, PACE has chosen the following training models for state funding:

* Connections, a collaborative program coordinated by UC Riverside Extension, that includes on-the-job coaching and mentoring, training, stipends and tuition help, as well as mental health support for classroom interventions. The program targeting the cities of Riverside and San Bernadino offers courses in several languages and through online, distance-learning arrangements. A 1999 study showed that families in Riverside and San Bernadino counties face more difficulty than their counterparts anywhere in the state in finding child care that meets basic state standards for health and safety. Connections will receive $900,000.

* A new program of the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County that offers child care and education classes in Spanish, along with outreach efforts to draw people into child care and education. Included in the council effort is professional development for those caring for children through age 5. The council will receive $690,000.

* Catholic Charities of the East Bay is working with Contra Costa Community College and the West Contra Costa Unified School District's Adult School to expand a program helping refugees and immigrants with limited English prepare for and land jobs as child care workers. The program offers internships, academic support for students with limited English proficiency, financial help with books, tuition, transportation and child-care, and cash incentives, as well as job preparation, placement and support. Catholic Charities will receive $600,000.

* In Nevada County, child-care workers can face major challenges that include severe winter weather, isolation due to distance, a lack of public transportation and a widening economic gap between wealthy retirees and working families. With a mobile training system, the Educator Support Project will offer a cafeteria-style package of potential benefits - such as health insurance - to be awarded after completion of agreed-upon educational and professional development goals. The project includes incentives such as wage supplements, equipment grants, tuition and child care cost coverage. The program will receive $430,000.

* The California Early Childhood Mentor Program in select areas of the San Joaquin Valley and the Northern California coast, is based at local colleges and universities and uses a peer recruitment and mentor plan for target groups such as Hispanic and Hmong, American Indian, Asian and African-American. It offers scholarships for students' books and tuition, and stipends for classroom mentors. It also provides substitutes for child care providers so they can attend class. The program will receive $680,000.

* The Chicano Federation of San Diego County, Inc. operates a training program in Spanish and English for licensed family day care providers in San Diego, Imperial and Orange counties. The federation offers a wide range of in-home and on-site services and counseling to help with academic, transportation, child care and other issues. Providers also learn business skills in the federal program. The program will receive $900,000.