Think about your favorite book or song— each tells a unique story that has shaped the way you see the world. Those stories are so important to how we understand our community, and how we celebrate our own backgrounds. This Black History Month, First 5 San Mateo County is proud to celebrate the Black caregivers in our community, and how their unique stories shape early childhood.
Many things shape a child’s journey: their heritage, traditions, and societal influences, like the upbringing within their communities. Understanding these elements is at the center of providing inclusive care for all children. Creating space to celebrate the beauty of Black culture is about more than providing diverse materials. It requires us to create spaces where kids see themselves in a positive way. Whether it’s sharing stories that connect rich histories, or enjoying various types of art and music, the goal is to make kids proud and give them a strong sense of belonging from the very start.
Women of color, as caregivers, teachers, and advocates, have a big impact on shaping the next generation. The majority of the early childcare workforce is comprised of women of color, and that number is growing. There are over 1 million more women of color working in child care in the United States than in 2009. So now, women of color make up 53 percent of the workforce, representing a huge jump since they were 45 percent in 2009. Their unique perspectives, strengths, and rich cultural experiences add depth to the early childhood experience. After all, of all the almost eight thousand caregivers First 5 San Mateo County serves, 66 percent are Latinx, while only 4.5 percent are Black. As guides during these important years, they become inspiration for the kids they care for, helping them feel a sense of identity and possibility.
Black Californians United for ECE (BlackECE) is a great resource to our local communities. Founded in 2021, BlackECE works exclusively for Black children, families, and child care workers to disrupt and abolish over 400 years of systemic barriers. As we step into Black History Month, let’s celebrate the impactful contributions of organizations like BlackECE, that shape early childhood for Black families and providers, and invest in measures that advance racial equity in San Mateo County.
By fostering environments and systemic equity measures that welcome and highlight the diversity of experiences, we help create a world where every child can do well, no matter where they come from. First 5 San Mateo County provides the kinds of resources children need to thrive, and when those kinds of services are not being accessed equitably, we take steps to ensure families and providers of color are getting what they need.
Understanding families’ experiences, in their own words, helps us create the future that parents want to see for their children. Read about how we are breaking down stigmas around developmental delays and early interventions in the Black community, and watch stories from our community about their strength, resilience, and life enduring the inequitable impacts of the pandemic and it’s recovery.
We thought carefully about how to advance racial equity in our work, and determined that belonging was a key piece of the puzzle. Black families need to feel like they belong in these systems and programs, and for a community that has been historically left out, that means we have work to do. Read about the updates in our research and evaluation practices to account for what Black families and children really need. Using this data in a meaningful way to drive equitable impacts is imperative. We need to transform our early childhood systems so that they are advancing equity, now. This work has been imperative, and underlies everything we do and how we plan for the future of our investments.
This February and beyond, let’s continue the journey toward a more inclusive, equitable, and vibrant future for all, recognizing the significant influence of Black caregivers in our community.
Visit blackece.org/ to read more about their vision, and the great work they’re doing to ensure California’s ECE system is culturally affirming for Black children, families, educators, and providers.