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UCR Extension to run two-county child care training program

UCR Extension to run two-county child care training program

(January 23, 2001)

Riverside and San Bernardino are the toughest California counties in which to find licensed child care, but the University of California, Riverside Extension is poised to help fill the gap with a $900,000 grant to train new providers and retain existing professionals.

The region faces daunting challenges. The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, in a 1999 study, ranked Riverside County 56th and San Bernardino County dead last in availability of licensed child care among the state's 58 counties. Licensed child care is available to just 16 percent of the 396,000 children ages 0-13 who have working parents in the two county region. About three-quarters of home-based childcare providers in the two-county region close after a few years. About 45 percent of childcare providers leave the field annually.

Now, however, a UCR Extension-led collaborative program, known by the acronym CONNECTIONS (Changing Our Normal Networks Early Care Training and Infrastructure Outgrowths and New Strategies), has developed a program to train and recruit 360 childcare providers. The CONNECTIONS program will also encourage and offer childcare workers training to improve their skills, advocate for increased pay, and hopefully keep more providers in the field.

The money comes from a portion of the $700 million raised last year statewide for early childhood programs through a 50-cent-per-pack cigarette tax increase approved by voters in 1998 under Proposition 10.

The Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) center at UC Berkeley is administering $4.2 million that will fund six pilot programs to boost the number of preschool teachers and child care providers in the state. CONNECTIONS will receive $900,000 over two years. Other programs funded through this effort include the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County; Catholic Charities of the East Bay; the Education Support Project in Nevada County, an educational and professional growth incentive program for providers. Also funded are the California Early Childhood Mentor Program in the San Joaquin Valley and Northern California coast; and the Chicano Federation of San Diego County, Inc., a bilingual training program.

The grant for CONNECTIONS will help train and retain up to 360 childcare providers in the two-county region, said Margi Wild, the program's coordinator at UCR Extension. Program leaders hope to work in concert with 10 area community colleges, the California State University, county offices of education in both counties, child care coalitions, community based agencies, churches, the state Department of Public Social Services, and employment training programs.

CONNECTIONS will take a five-point approach to the problem of scarce licensed childcare providers, offering the following services:
  • On-the-job mentoring and coaching through curriculum assistance for students, professional growth advisers for workers, student interns, tutoring, and bilingual services.
  • Courses designed for students going to community college or university.
  • Mental health support such as therapy, case management, and counseling for children and their families.
  • Professional growth training through workshops and conferences in early childhood development.
  • Links with community groups; support systems such as libraries and web sites; and incentives for workers to improve their skills, such as tuition assistance, educational materials and equipment.

These approaches are designed to increase the number of childcare professionals in the region, raise the quality of new graduates to the profession, and encourage established providers to stay in the childcare field, Wild said.

For more information about CONNECTIONS, contact Dr. Wild at (909) 787-4361, ext. 1660, Early Childhood and Families Studies, 1200 University Avenue, Suite 345, Riverside, California, 92507-4596.

For information about childcare training and retention programs through PACE in Berkeley call Elizabeth Burr at (510) 642-5541.

The California Children and Families Commission administers Prop.10 money. For more information about the commission's role on this issue, call Amber Moore at (310) 552-6922.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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