California is a pioneer in using economic impact studies to advance ECE. A group of county-specific reports were released in 1997 and 1998, and a statewide study was released in 2001. Today, more than half of California’s 58 counties have their own full economic impact studies.
In 1997, the Insight Center created an active learning community, called Local Investments in Child Care (LINCC), made up of county leaders working to promote economic impact findings and make changes in child care investments.
In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 10, authorizing a tobacco tax with funds earmarked to improve the lives of California’s young children and their families through a comprehensive system of education, health services, child care, and other crucial programs. First 5 Commissions in every county and at the state level oversee the use of these funds.
Using Economic Messages
California has a statewide economic impact study which was completed in 2001, and more than two dozen county-level economic impact studies. Many were completed so long ago they have since been updated. In addition, a number of important studies have been released that describe the positive, long-term economic return of investing in Pre-K in California.
County-level reports enable local advocates to focus the message on particular county needs and topics that are specifically relevant to that county. For example, in Riverside County, which is struggling with a huge influx of in-migration families, the need to streamline the creation of more spaces to accommodate need was a key economic message. The county produced city fact sheets showing individual municipal leaders how to streamline planning. In San Francisco, advocates wanted to make the city more family-friendly, so that workers with young children can remain living in the city. They highlighted the role of ECE in creating family-friendly cities.
California advocates have used unique strategies to get their economic messages out. At the statewide release, advocates presented a large check on poster board to “The California Economy,” showing how much income the ECE industry generates every year. In San Francisco, advocates printed key economic messages onto cardboard sleeves for coffee cups and donated them for use at coffee shops near City Hall. Other counties printed up large poster-sized graphs comparing the ECE industry to other key industries in that county (e.g., lettuce production in Kern County). This helped get out the economic message.
The message that ECE providers operate small businesses and need small-business supports has been front and center for some local communities. Advocates in these communities have used the economic impact message to argue for increased partnership with financial institutions that can offer loans to ECE providers. And advocates have partnered with business training entities such as Small Business Development Centers, to encourage them to serve ECE entrepreneurs more effectively.
The economic message has also been used to link ECE to effective community planning, engaging local municipal leaders, planning departments, and economic development offices.
Economic messages have been used in support of expanded access to Pre-K in California for the past few years. Voters were educated about the economic and educational benefits of ECE during a ballot initiative campaign in 2006.
Boosting the Economic Power of Early Care and Education: Key Highlights
The Local Investments in Child Care, or LINCC, project has successfully developed innovative ways to strengthen the ECE industry. The group was initially incubated at the Insight Center (formerly known as NEDLC), and provided a forum for creative advocates to identify specific practices and strategies that the economic messages can support. A project evaluation by SRI International in 2003 found that LINCC brought ECE into city and county economic planning and decision making; leveraged $1.93 towards ECE for every $1 in foundation support; educated ECE professionals about the business aspects of their work; and created more center-based spaces between 1996 and 2000 in counties where LINCC was involved than in counties without LINCC.
LINCC is currently active in Alameda, Kern, Monterey, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura counties. Experts from these counties continue to work with local community members, government members, and ECE providers. They also now offer technical assistance, training and publications to other advocates.
In 2001, legislation was passed to initiate a project called Building Child Care. The BCC’s goal is to access facilities financing and to enable the ECE industry in CA to access facilities development and financing publications, referrals, training, one-on-one technical assistance, centralized information, and materials for ECE providers specific to child care financing, capital expansion, and facilities development. Four partner organizations combined their experience, resources, and expertise to meet the project’s needs. These organizations are: the Insight Center; The Children's Collabrium (formerly CDPI Education Fund) ; The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network; and The Low Income Investment Fund.
As part of the Building Child Care project, statewide agencies are working with Small Business Development Centers to train business technical assistance providers to provide more effective services to ECE entrepreneurs. The Insight Center, in partnership with The Children’s Collabrium, offers business training to ECE providers and future ECE trainers describing how to produce business plans, manage the facilities financing process, and access loan funds.
As a result of linking ECE to effective community planning, zoning laws in some counties have changed, planning departments have streamlined the permitting process, developers have assessed and mitigated the impact of their development on local ECE systems, and ECE has been included as an element to consider in community planning documents. At the state level, advocates have studied the effect of ECE facility location on transportation planning.
Economic messages about the importance of Pre-K gained the endorsement of non-traditional stakeholders including the Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Francisco Chambers of Commerce endorsing the initiative. Although the initiative was defeated, the business support has been important in the passage of bills in the State legislature in support of Pre-K.A number of key business leaders have identified themselves as staunch ECE advocates as well. In 2004, Lew Platt, former chairman of Boeing, and Eli Broad, a developer, appeared in public service spots about the importance of early education. Rob Reiner, a famous actor and film director, led the passage of Proposition 10 (the tobacco tax bill that established and funded the First 5 Commissions), and the efforts to pass Proposition 82, which would have created universally accessible Pre-K in California.
To identify ways to strengthen the ECE industry in Los Angeles, the Insight Center worked with a unique collaboration between the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board; the County of Los Angeles Child Care Planning Committee; and Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP). These three agencies pooled resources to create the first-ever career pathways and economic impact study of the ECE industry in Los Angeles. The career pathways study describes the ECE workforce in way that both workforce development and ECE experts can understand. LAUP and the County Office of Child Care formed a workforce task force to address issues of the workforce and implement recommendations in the report. The Workforce Investment Board presented the findings to its Board of Directors. First 5 LA has funded efforts to recruit high school students into ECE training programs and to develop career development initiatives across the county.
State and Legislative Actions
In 1998, California voters approved Proposition 10, a ballot initiative that established the First 5 California Children and Families Program and Commissions at the state and in each county, funded by a tobacco tax. The commissions provide every child prenatal to age five with a comprehensive, integrated system of early childhood development services.
In 2001, the legislature created and funded the Building Child Care project to provide a centralized clearinghouse of information and services to increase California ECE providers’ understanding of the facilities development process and access to facility development resources.
In September, 2006, the legislature passed Assembly Bill 172, which allocates an additional $50 million to serve an additional 12,000 children in state Pre-K programs located in neighborhoods surrounding California’s lowest performing elementary schools. A small portion of the new money was allocated towards a new family literacy component to help parents better support their children. An additional $50 million in one-time funds for Pre-K facilities was included in the 2006-07 budget.
In 2008, two Pre-K related bills were passed into law. The Early Learning Quality Improvement Act, SB 1629, established a Commission to create a Quality Improvement System. The commission will develop a framework for assessing program quality and an enhanced funding structure that will provide the necessary resources for programs to achieve and maintain a high-quality Pre-K program. The California State Preschool Program Act, AB 2759, consolidated and streamlined all the current State Preschool, Prekindergarten-Family Literacy, and General Child Care and Development programs serving preschool-aged children, to create the California State Preschool Program. Both bills received strong bipartisan support.
Many counties have completed reports: Los Angeles (2008); Riverside (2006); Humboldt (2006); Merced (2006); San Francisco (2006); Solano (2004); Monterey (2003 and 1997); Butte (2002); Sonoma (2002); Santa Clara (2002 and 1998); Contra Costa (2002); Orange (2002); Alameda (1998); San Benito (1998); Ventura (1998); Kern (1997); San Mateo (1997); and Santa Cruz (1997)
Affordable Buildings for Children's Development (ABCD) is a California-wide child care initiative. Through the ABCD Initiative, the Low Income Investment Fund works with a variety of partners to promote and support the development of quality child care facilities throughout California.
Building Child Care contains a clearinghouse of information about facilities financing and development throughout California.
First 5 California and 58 County Commissions throughout the state work to improve the lives of children prenatally until they enter kindergarten.
Local Investments in Child Care. Acknowledging that child care is an essential part of the economy, LINCC exists to stimulate public and private investment policies to meet the child care needs of all children and families in California.
Preschool California's mission is to increase access to high-quality preschool so that all kids, especially those who need it most, enter kindergarten ready to learn, read and do their best.
RAND's California Preschool Study. RAND has been funded to conduct a series of studies about California's preschool efforts, including achievement gaps, financing and service delivery mechanisms, quality, use, and other critical topics.
The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, established in 1980, works to address the needs of parents and child care providers throughout the state. Working with 61 local member agencies, the Network is involved in a variety of activities and projects, which assist child care providers in serving their communities, inform parents and the general public about quality child care, and encourage positive policy changes on the local, state, and federal levels.
The Children's Collaborium, founded in 1993 as the Child Development Policy Institute Education Fund (CDPI Education Fund), is a partnership for excellence in early education that continuously works to transform research and information on early learning and development into sound policy and excellent practice.