Policy Resource

California's Child Development Training Consortium Raises Educational Standards and Curriculum Alignment

Sep 1, 2017

The Comprehensive Approaches to Raising Educational Standards (CARES) Plus Program was First 5 California’s Teacher Signature program.

First 5 California launched the Comprehensive Approaches to Raising Education Standards (CARES) Program in FY 00/01 as a matching-fund program with 44 local First 5 commissions. The CARES program was lauded for its success and was expanded upon in 2010 as the CARES Plus program. Although the program ended in July, 2016, much can be learned from what the program achieved.

CARES Plus built on the positive impact of the original CARES program. The program was designed to increase the quality of early learning programs for children 0 to 5 and their families by supporting the education and preparation of an effective, well-compensated, and diverse early learning workforce. The “Plus” represents an enhancement of earlier CARES components, such as a strong focus on outcomes and accountability, and expanding the Higher Education Plans to Higher Education Quality Pathway Partnerships. As with the prior CARES program, CARES Plus offered stipends to early childhood educators, based on an educational plan that was reviewed annually with an advisor. In addition, CARES Plus provided academic support and advising to engage a diverse workforce, with career path counseling and support to successfully transfer from community college to four-year institutions. Participants were linked to financial aid, scholarships and books.

There are some additional elements of CARES Plus that support the professional development infrastructure. First 5 CA supports the California Department of Education in implementing birth-5 Early Childhood Educator Competencies. The California Teacher Credentialing office has committed to update the California Child Development Permit to align with the ECE Competencies in order to create a competencies-based career ladder. An Early Learning Workforce Registry has been developed to support evaluation of the effectiveness of the CARES Plus program, and to monitor teacher quality in the QRIS system.

From 2001 through 2009, the CARES program was funded by the California Children and Families Commission (First 5 CA). Over this eight-year period, the CARES program invested $224 million in professional development supports through a matching program with county First 5 Commissions. On April 21, 2010, the First 5 California Commission approved up to $36 million in funding for the return of CARES as CARES Plus for three years (July 1, 2010-June 30, 2013). On October 17, 2012, the State Commission approved up to $14 million per year for CARES Plus for three years (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2016). The program ended when that funding was exhausted.

Early Childhood Educator Competencies and Curriculum Alignment

California’s Early Childhood Educator Competencies, developed by the state Department of Education and administered by the California Child Development Training Consortium (CDTC), provide the framework under which professional development opportunities are strengthening California’s infant-toddler workforce. One of CDTCs services is a training portal that offers 122 infant- and toddler-focused trainings or courses. CDTC also hosts the California Community Colleges Curriculum Alignment Project (CAP), which developed a program of study for early care and education teachers that includes eight courses on the earliest years of child development. CAP added Infant Toddler as a specialty area, and 12 colleges now offer one or both of the approved Infant Toddler courses. WestEd’s Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC) curriculum offerings can be accessed through the CDTC training portal. Through PITC, more than 7,000 people have been trained as trainers, and centers or groups of family child care providers receive onsite training, observation, and coaching from infant-toddler specialists.

This description of California’s work is highlighted in ZERO TO THREE’s publication A Place to Get Started: Innovation in Infant and Toddler State Policies.

Revised August 2017.

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