By Greg Bortkiewicz, Communications & Advocacy Manager at Kidango. Published on April 10, 2019.
I was in Sacramento yesterday for the Assembly Human Services Committee hearing, where 31 bills were presented to the committee, including AB 167. This is one of two bills Kidango is sponsoring this year. It will increase access to high-quality infant/toddler programs and services for an additional 20,000 low-income youngsters in California, and improve existing child care programs based on the effective Early Head Start model.
Many of the bills being heard related to child care and the room was full with advocates and supporters who either testified to the committee or voiced their support.
When it was time to hear AB 167, the author Assemblymember Blanca Rubio was joined at the front by Michele Stillwell-Parvensky, VP of advocacy and policy at Kidango; Lissete Frausto, a parent of two young children at our Castlemont Center in Oakland; and Christina Nigrelli, senior director of programs, California at Zero To Three. Zero To Three is a co-sponsor of the bill, along with Kidango and Children’s Defense Fund-California.
Assemblymember Rubio began by painting a picture of the need for expanded services and the importance they play in facilitating healthy brain development. As a single mother and former teacher, she said, she knows firsthand the need for high-quality infant/toddler services.
She was followed by Lissete who shared her personal experience of having two children in the Early Head Start program. She emotionally explained the impact that the program had had on her two children and her family, and how they had shown rapid improvements in speech and vocabulary. You can read more about Lissete’s story here.
Christina used her time to expand further on the importance of a child’s first three years of life with regard to brain development, and setting the foundation for a lifetime of health, wellbeing and success. Finally, Michele briefly restated Kidango’s strong support of the bill.
Committee Chair Eloise Reyes took a moment to thank Rubio for introducing the bill, and to Lissete for making the trip to Sacramento to share such a personal story. A number of others also the chance to voice their support before the vote.
The bill received a unanimous, bipartisan 8-0 vote! This goes to show that early childhood education is a cause that everyone can get behind, regardless of political affiliation.
The first hurdle is cleared for AB 167 and we now prepare for the next hearing. All in all, a very successful afternoon.