W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Conrad Hilton Foundation
$150,000 per year for 2 years
Black Belt Region
AISJ works to achieve meaningful and sustainable systems change in support of under-resourced children and families in Alabama’s Black Belt.
Alabama Child Care Alliance, Alabama Equal Voice Network, Arise, VOICES for Alabama’s Children, Alabama School Readiness Alliance, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, Alabama Partnership for Children, Early Head Start Governance Committee, Community Action, Community Change, Delivering Good, Equal Voice for America’s Families
The purpose of this grant is to provide support to child care providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and to increase public investment in early learning by engaging in workforce organizing through child care centers, directors and staff in15 of Alabama’s Black Belt counties.
At one point since the onset of the pandemic, only 12% of child care centers across Alabama were operating, and those were operating at 50% or less of their normal capacity. As providers struggle significantly to remain open and meet the care, health, and safety needs of Alabama families, this project will work directly with child care centers to determine and organize their individual and collective needs and provide immediate assistance. Once their needs are identified and addressed, AISJ will also be able to help centers develop a more expansive plan to address the systemic issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Because 65% of Alabama children under age 6 have all available parents in the workforce and Alabama’s essential workers are two-thirds women – including 81% of health care workers and 89% of child care and social service workers, which are disproportionately Black women – parents cannot work if they do not have a safe, reliable place for their own children. Ultimately, because of these challenges and the fact that Alabama’s Black Belt region is considered the poorest in the state, moving toward a policy framework will help AISJ to understand the collective impact of the child care centers in the target areas they serve. This will also allow them, along with their base, to craft a set of policies for which they can organize childcare centers, providers, and workers, focusing primarily on how to re-establish, maintain, and further develop the workforce needs of child care centers.
Thus, along with the proposed intent of the RCCF funding, AISJ seeks to launch The Alabama Movement for Child Care (TAMCC) as an augmented response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Short-term solutions are no longer sufficient, and AISJ an its constituents need a more radical response to addressing the needs of its child care industry. Therefore, launching TAMCC is intended to build a more expansive movement for child care that will initially focus on child care as a public good to increase access and affordability; workforce development to address training and skill-set needs, wage issues, etc.; and removing the Market Rate Survey tool, as it undermines the financial vitality of rural, minority child care centers. These three areas are seen as foundational to advancing a child care system that is fair and equitable, improves child care quality, and reduces ongoing staff attrition rates.
Selected Action Steps Related to RCCF Goals
Lift parent, child care teacher, home-based child care provider, caregiver and ally voices and increase their participation in crafting policy solutions in states and/or communities
- Conduct monthly online group meetings with 46 child care centers; one-on-one meetings with center directors, parents, and stakeholders; and online, phone, and face-to-face surveys with childcare providers and staff to determine training needs, which will also be used to frame issue priorities.
- Organize child care providers around movement goals on a monthly basis, focusing on Montgomery, Mobile, and Huntsville, adding 1-2 new providers each month.
- Provide training on advocacy and organizing to build leadership capacity among providers and advocates.
Build effective coordination among RCCF grantees and advocacy groups, community groups, parents, child care teachers, home-based child care providers, caregivers, and allies
- Attend all online National Child Care Cohort, National Grassroots Assembly, and Grassroots Policy Training Committee meetings to engage and cultivate relationships with RCCF grantees and identify possible organizers and training recruits.
- Attend monthly Zoom and/or in-person meetings to plan and coordinate Grassroots Leadership conference, and participate in RCCF training opportunities and Zoom meetings.
- Work with partners to build a coalition of child care advocates and partners across the state.
Expand financial resources to secure increased and equitable access to quality child care, including through intentional strategies to reach and prioritize children and families most affected by injustice and inequity
- Participate in policy efforts with VOICES for Alabama’s Children and Alabama Arise to advocate for child care equity as an economic justice strategy.
- Participate in state and federal advocacy efforts to secure federal and state dollars to level the playing field for marginalized child care centers and providers.
- Organize sessions with community partners to build public support for TAMCC and statewide child care industry need.
Updated June 17, 2021