24 New Black Early Educators Graduate and Secure Jobs
By Director of Quality Business Supports Je Ton Carey
and Chief Advancement Officer Amie Latterman
“Learning about child development, working with an all-Black cohort, having a Black professor, changed my vision about what’s possible in [San Francisco].” — Pipeline Program Graduate
On Friday, August 5, 2022, we celebrated the graduation of our first-ever Pipeline for Black Early Childhood Educators, Career Development Cohort, an innovative new component of our BizNest suite of services for early educators.
Mayor London Breed, a host of city and community leaders and many family and friends joined us at the Bayview Opera House to honor these incredible educators who have completed our intensive collaborative program with City College of San Francisco, funded by the Mayor’s Dream Keeper Initiative. These individuals are going to make a real impact on the children and families of San Francisco!
Decades of data now prove that we are failing our Black children and families: two out of three children in San Francisco are “ready” for kindergarten, but only one in three Black children reach those same social-emotional and child development benchmarks in time for school.
Systemic racism drives much of this disparity. In cooperation with other community partners, Children’s Council aims to drive change through our efforts to strengthen the Pipeline to Career Pathways for Black Early Educators.
This program was also made possible with the support of the Office of Economic & Workforce Development, the Bainum Family Foundation and the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.
Building a strong pipeline of qualified Black early care educators is a critical component to addressing the achievement and equity gap that persists for our Black children.
Early educators who care for children during their infancy and toddler years are a critical part of the child care workforce. Some work in child care classrooms, while others care for children out of home-based businesses.
No matter the setting, the career path needs are similar: as early educators advance in experience, engage in professional training or start a child care business of their own, they earn more.
While entry-level jobs that require little training pay minimum wage, many early care and education (ECE) jobs allow workers to earn $50,000 – $90,000 a year. These career pathways have traditionally opened opportunities for women of color, immigrant women and mothers returning to the workforce.
Yet, ECE career pipeline and pathways are not always clear, and barriers to success abound.
Children’s Council of San Francisco has successfully piloted an unencumbered path for prospective Black early educators to pursue an ECE career.
Furthermore, research shows that participation in high-quality child care has a higher economic payoff—for children, working families and even grandchildren—than any other policy aimed at struggling families.
For every dollar communities invest in high-quality ECE, they can expect up to an $18 return in the form of long-term savings in educational interventions, healthcare, job training, social services and criminal justice costs.1
Yet, for low-income families to reap these benefits, high-quality child care must be affordable and available. Unfortunately, San Francisco faces a severe shortage of quality child care for children younger than preschool-age, with only enough licensed child care capacity to serve approximately 15% of infants.
Of San Francisco’s approximately 1,200 Black or African American children receiving child care subsidies from the government, only 51% attend a licensed child care or preschool facility.2 The remaining 49% are in the care of family, friends or neighbors, most often caring individuals who have little in the way of child development knowledge or training.
The shortage of trained ECE professionals has resulted in a workforce crisis.
One 2017 analysis by the SF Office of Early Care and Education estimated that over 33% of ECE programs do not have enough teachers and staff to enroll as many children as desired.3
This trend is intensified in neighborhoods where families most need affordable child care, often the same neighborhoods that have higher concentrations of Black residents.
And, while 30% of the city’s children who are in subsidized child care (meaning they are our most vulnerable children and from largely low-income families) are Black, only 7-9% of ECE professionals or post-secondary ECE students in San Francisco are Black,4 and only 8% of those serving kids in SF’s public ECE system are Black.5
It’s important to note that limited public funding and supply constrain access to care for many more Black children who live in households that qualify for child care subsidies; these kids remain on a waiting list for subsidies. Estimates say that 80% of all SF Black children ages 0-11 live in households that qualify for such subsidies.
Why does this prevent equitable access to child development opportunities for Black children?
First, Black children don’t have the opportunity to see aspects of themselves reflected in their classroom teachers. Their self-esteem is augmented by exposure to strong role models; and, all children, regardless of race, benefit from experiencing diversity in their classrooms.
Secondly, early educators largely lack access to training to provide trauma-informed, culturally competent and anti-racist care that would support them as they care for Black children experiencing the effects of generational poverty and systemic racism.6 One prominently understood outcome of that is that Black preschoolers are more likely to be suspended than their white peers.7
Quality early care prepares children for school and for life.
Cutting-edge brain research by experts such as Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris tells us that nurturing caregivers act as a positive buffer, protecting children from the effects of exposure to childhood adversity, including abuse and neglect, domestic violence, parental mental illness or parental substance abuse.8
At Children’s Council of San Francisco, in collaboration with partners in the Black early educator community and Community College of San Francisco Early Education Department members, we’ve successfully piloted an integrated series of interventions to achieve the outcomes outlines below.
- Identified post-secondary students’ needs to develop responsive programming to structure culturally relevant educational offerings and to create mentorship opportunities for students.
- Collaborated with City College of San Francisco to offer community-based and/or virtual ECE coursework underwritten, commissioned and hosted by Children’s Council.
- Recruited Black students into City College ECE courses, supporting them with stipends as well as coaches to help them navigate barriers to staying enrolled and earning their degree.
- Supported apprenticeship placements in different child care settings across the city.
- Supported job placement with our network of 1,000+ early care and education licensed sites, including family child care homes, child care centers, Head Start classrooms, Early Head Start programs, San Francisco Unified School District classrooms and others
- Empowered prospective Black early educators to secure a child care license and launch their own Family Child Care (home-based) businesses via our innovative Child Care Business Incubator program.
- Offered stipends to recently graduated early educators as they establish themselves in the field.
- Assisted early educators to access wage enhancements, supplemental training, mental health resources and other benefits available to them if they care for children with a child care subsidy, via successful application to the San Francisco Early Learning System (ELS) or CA State subsidy systems.
- Increase the number of Black ECE professionals in San Francisco.
- Increase the skills of ECE professionals to provide trauma-informed, culturally competent and anti-racist care.
- Increase the percentage of Black children in San Francisco who are kindergarten-ready.
- Increase the rate at which Black children reach developmental milestones “on time.”
Accomplishments to date
Our second 2022-23 Cohort Year 1 Apprenticeship has already begun! We’re bringing in 44 more prospective Black early educators to a 10-month program to earn the higher education units and peer-support networks needed to be successful in their ECE careers. Supportive job placement coaching will ensure they pursue a pathway to the classroom, on to higher educational achievement or launch their own Family Child Care business.
We know that the peer support and extra mentorship for our first, recently graduated cohort will be critical, so we are also launching a 2021-22 Cohorts’ Year 2 Fellowship for those individuals wanting a continued support structure as they launch their careers.
Finally, Children’s Council aims to adapt our program model with other demographic groups, and to scale our programmatic services by leveraging partnerships with other sister organizations around the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Contact Je Ton Carey to learn more about how to bring the Pipeline to your own community: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Compensation and Retention Early Educator Stipend Program: CARES 2.0 Spring Databook, San Francisco Office of Early Care & Education, Spring 2020 Summary.
 Milner, H.R. (2006). “The Promise of Black Teachers’ Success with Black Students”. Educational Foundations, Summer-Fall 2006. Kisida, Brian; Winters, Marcus A. (2015). “Representation in the Classroom: The Effect of Own-Race Teachers on Student Achievement”. Economics of Education Review