April 23-24, 2015 | Napa, CA


Children demonstrate the highest cognitive, emotional, and developmental growth in the early years of their lives when the appropriate interactions and conditions are set-up for them to succeed. In the last several years, we have continued to see a growing demand for quality early childhood services, and California, like many other states across the country has taken the initiative to develop an early learning plan that aims to meet the needs of families and young children. It is vital to understand the short-term and long-term benefits such services can generate for children and families, economic growth, workforce development, and public safety.

Early childhood education services consist of a variety of sectors, both formal and informal, that aim to deliver quality early education services to children and families. In order to have a robust early learning infrastructure at the state or local levels, attention must be placed on the appropriate regulatory, governance, finance, and accountability systems. Given the vast diversity of families in the state, it is also important that all educators are equipped with the right tools and competencies needed to provide a quality learning environment for children that not only prepares them academically, but also one that values children’s cultural assets, such as different family structures and home languages. This convening will highlight how policymakers, institutions of higher education, service providers, community-based organizations, and families can work in tangent to design high quality early education services to produce positive and lasting outcomes for children, families, and communities.

This convening, is part of the NALEO Education Leadership Initiative (NELI) which aims to provide Latino public servants with the enhanced capacity and governance skills they need to become effective advocates for their students, families, and communities. Participants attending this two-day convening will hear from leading experts from the public, private, and non-profit sectors who will tackle pressing early learning policy topics.

The Institute will include a curriculum that covers:


  • Access to Quality Early Education in California
  • Enhancing Early Educator Professional Development
  • Diversifying the Early Education Workforce
  • Making the Vision of Early Childhood Education for All a Reality
  • Identifying Effective and Sustainable Early Learning Models: Systems and Funding


Institute Foundation Sponsors
Alliance for Early Success
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Institute Investor Sponsors

California Resources Corporation
Wells Fargo & Co.

Institute Investor Sponsors

JPMorgan Chase & Co.


  • Tuesday, April 23
  • Wednesday, April 24

11:00 AM – 12:00 p.m.

Registration & Lunch

12:00 p.m. – 12:10 p.m.

Welcome and Introductory Remarks

• Ms. Erica Bernal-Martinez, Deputy Executive Director, NALEO Educational Fund

• Dr. Rosita Ramirez, Director of Constituency Services – Education, NALEO Educational Fund

12:10 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Session I:


Access to Quality Early Education in California

Latinos now represent the largest population group in the state of California, including over 4.7 million children between the ages of birth through eight. Years of research demonstrate that the development of the brain is most rapid and sensitive in the earliest years of a child’s life, therefore it is vital that quality early childhood education services become readily available to all families. This session will provide an overview of the demographic trends and needs in early education, while highlighting the long-term societal benefits of supporting early education initiatives and how these can lead to building a stronger economy, workforce, and safer communities.

Session Chair: Dr. Barbara Flores, Board President, San Bernardino City Unified School District; President, California Latino School Boards Association; Professor, California State University San Bernardino

• Ms. Cecelia Fisher-Dahms, Quality Improvement Office Administrator, California Department of Education – Early Education and Support Division
PRESENTATION | Resources: 1 | 2 | 3

• Ms. Araceli Sandoval-Gonzalez, Director of School and Community Engagement, Early Edge California

1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Session II:


Enhancing Early Educator Professional Development

Given the range of student needs and educator services available it is critical that the early childhood education workforce has the adequate skills needed to provide a safe, equitable, and engaging environment for young learners. Although educators’ qualifications and experiences vary based on the type of service provider they work for, it is critical that they all comply with early learning statewide standards. Less than one fourth of the educator workforce has been trained through a formal program and nearly half operate unregulated as home-based services. Professional development programs need to be multi-pronged to engage the varied types of educators who are undergoing or seeking training in institutions of higher education. This session will highlight the essential competencies and content areas early childhood educators should possess to effectively deliver the best culturally-relevant and linguistically-inclusive practices for Latino children and families.

Session Chair: Hon. Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, Board Member, Azusa Unified School District; NALEO Board Member

• Dr. Marlene Zepeda, Professor Emeritus, Department of Child and Family Studies, California State University – Los Angeles

• Hon. Mayra E. Cruz, Faculty, Child Development and Education Department, DeAnza College; Trustee, San Jose/Evergreen Community College

3:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Session III:


Diversifying the Early Education Workforce

A key component of a high quality early learning program is the quality of their teachers. Given California’s changing demographics it is imperative that the composition of the educator workforce in early learning facilities also reflect and meet the needs of children and families from those local communities. In order to recruit and retain the most qualified professionals, compensation and working conditions must be improved for childcare staff. This session will highlight trends in the workforce and provide strategies on the practices and policies that need to be in place to strengthen the current and potential early learning workforce.

Session Chair: Hon. Briseida Gonzalez, Family Support Specialist, Los Angeles Universal Preschool; School Board Member, Lynwood School District

• Dr. Marcy Whitebook, Director, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California-Berkeley

Resources: 1 | 2 | 3

• Ms. Mary Gutierrez-Khopkar, Child Care Campaign Director, SEIU California

Resources: 1 | 2

4:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Adjourn for the Day

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.