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NEPAC's Impact in the Early Care and Education Sector: Part 2, California

Written by LIIF Early Care and Education Team

In August 2022, LIIF launched a National Early Care and Education Practitioners Advisory Committee (NEPAC) as part of its efforts to center the voices of providers. The group comprises leaders in the early care and education (ECE) field who have successfully used LIIF grant funds in the past. Our aligned values are sustainability, equity, respect, dignity and change, and our NEPAC geographies served are New York City, California and Washington, D.C. 
These providers work daily to set up all children for success – no matter the ZIP code into which they are born. Via listening and learning circles, the collaborative ideates and shares best practices around issues running the gamut from policy to climate mitigation to co-location of child care in affordable housing developments. 

Below are highlights from NEPAC’s California members, so you can learn about them, their capstone projects and their vision for their community. 

Member Profiles

Oscar Tang, Child Care Business Institute 
“Language justice is not just about translation; it’s about empowerment, inclusion and building a just society. As we bridge language gaps, we open doors to understanding and equality, fostering a world where every voice is heard and valued.” 

Bio. Oscar Tang is a committed advocate in the family child care community, having begun his advocacy work in San Francisco. Tang is a key member of the Family Child Care Association of San Francisco, where he plays a major role in making policies and pushing for language access in early childhood education. His passion for early care and education (ECE) has sparked a new commitment to language justice: He ensures community members who do not speak English receive culturally responsive information.   

Capstone Project. Tang looks to improve monolingual community involvement in Local Childcare Planning Council (LPC). Specifically, he wants to prepare a white paper study on LPC composition; make recommendations on data elements collection for CDSS; and provide a language need assessment/checklist for LPC staff.

Monica Guidry, Guidry’s Early Care and Education 
“Advocacy never stops. Our children deserve a bright future, and it is up to us to make that happen.” 

Bio. Monique Guidry has served in the ECE workforce — center-based and currently family child care — for 24 years and is a former president of the Family Child Care Association of San Francisco. As a mentor teacher for 18 years, Guidry understands the power of public voice and the necessity for ECE educators to provide informed first-hand knowledge to policymakers. Committed to uplifting the Black ECE community, Guidry is co-founder of the African American Early Childhood Educators of San Francisco, which is dedicated to unlocking the unrealized potential of Black children and families, with their advocacy centering on establishing an equitable process that guarantees fairness in distributing information and resources. By doing so, they aspire to cultivate innovative and equitable solutions that benefit Black families and ECE providers within their community. Guidry also represents District 11 of San Francisco as a Child Care Planning and Advisory Council member. 

Capstone Project. In 2018, San Francisco voters passed Proposition C (nicknamed “Baby” Prop C) to support San Francisco’s goal of providing ECE for all of the city’s children. Alongside fellow educators, parents and ECE advocates, Guidry is actively working with the SF Childcare Planning and Advisory Council to protect the Baby Prop C revenue, which was hard-fought and well-deserved funding, to support teacher retention by increasing educators’ salaries and improving facilities. 

Makinya Ward, Kids Konnect Infant Care and Preschools 
“A lot of times, people who work in child care are so busy with the children they don’t have the opportunity to speak up for themselves, so that’s something I’m going to commit to doing. I’ve been doing it and I’m going to continue to do it because our families need it, our providers need it and women of color need it. I’m feeling fired up and feel like there’s still an opportunity to help women of color and small businesses survive.” 

Bio. Makinya Ward is CEO of Kids Konnect Infant Care and Preschools. She is a talented and seasoned business leader with more than 20 years of ECE experience. Ward earned a bachelor’s in Business Administration from University of California at Hayward, received her Child Development Permit credential from the California Department of Education and is a Board member of Californians for Quality Early Learning (CQEL) and to Bananas Bunch, advocating for meaningful investment in the child care system to improve the lives of everyone who lives in the Bay Area. 

Capstone project. Ward has joined efforts with local advocacy groups in San Mateo and Alameda counties by gathering signatures for new ballot measures supporting child care access, equity and affordability for all families; speaking at city council meetings and at the state capitol; and participating in the Early Childhood Planning Council meetings to discuss and influence legislation. 

Jennifer Harper, Long Beach Day Nursery 
“High-quality early care and education is essential to strengthening our local economy. The workforce is supported threefold by the ECE industry: We are employing a workforce; we allow the current workforce, especially women, to be employed; and we are raising the future workforce. It is our collective responsibility to ensure every child has access to a high-quality environment to grow in.”  

Bio. Jennifer Harper (formerly Allen) is the Executive Director of Long Beach Day Nursery, one of California’s oldest licensed child care centers. After a 20-year international career focusing on community development in Mexico — where she held positions as Executive Director, Operations Manager, and Communications and Fundraising Manager in low-income communities — she has found her home in Long Beach, California. Harper believes that ECE is a primary strategy for reducing intergenerational poverty and loves to empower collaboration among people and organizations. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for both the Long Beach Early Childhood Education Committee and the Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation, plus has been appointed to the inaugural City of Long Beach’s Commission for Women and Girls. 

Capstone project. Harper is part of the Long Beach Early Childhood Education Committee, which is a coalition of diverse advocates working toward increasing access to quality ECE in that city. The diverse group leverages partnerships to build a prepared and valued workforce, effective and responsive advocacy, increased membership and consistent, sustainable funding for the industry. Currently, Harper is advocating for a dedicated revenue stream, such as an Early Childhood Fund, in the city’s budget for FY24/25 to support facilities funding and workforce development. 

Yessika Magdaleno, Long Beach Day Nursery 
“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” — Deuteronomy 32:1-3 

Bio. Yessika Magdaleno is an early child care educator and advocate who has been in the ECE field for 23 years. She has served in several capacities with multiple organizations and associations, developing relationships and maintaining open communication with the Board and members of these organizations. Yessika is also the Founder of the Childcare Business Institute, a company dedicated to preparing future and current business owners in the field of home child care. 

Capstone project. Magdaleno’s goal is to help build advocacy tools with providers to work with their Senators and Assemblymembers, plus local electeds. She would like to show what she is learning with the union with local members so they feel empowered to work with their local elected officials. 

LIIF’s NEPAC members in California have all been hard at work supporting state investments in child care facilities. California made a historic investment of $350.5 million to renovate, repair and expand child care facilities in the state; however, that money is all spoken for, and we are working to continue the progress and add more funding into the Insfrastructure Grant Program (IGP).
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LIIF is also sponsoring a bill to make it easier for child care providers to access state funding. AB2732 would add “child care provider” to the search tool on available grants so providers could see that for which they are eligible to apply — especially when it comes to climate-related funding.
Bill Text: CA AB2732 | 2023-2024 | Regular Session | Introduced | LegiScan

Interested in learning more about NEPAC? Read our comprehensive report

Early Care and Education