Establishment of the Council
AB1542, Chapter 2-3 8499.3 and 8499.5 (Statutes of 1997) required the establishment of a Local Child Care Planning Council in every California county. Fortunately for children and families in Santa Barbara County, a similar body was already in place.
In 1991, the Council was convened to develop a local plan and priorities for distribution of the new Federal Child Care Block Grant Funds resulting from passage of the Federal Omnibus Budget Act in 1990. County Superintendent of Schools, William J. Cirone and the County Board of Supervisors, represented by Supervisor Diane Owens, supported the formation of the Council.
The Council was formally re-designated as the Local Child Care Planning Council by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Barbara Superintendent of Schools on April 28, 1998.
Initially, financial support for Council activities was provided entirely by in-kind services by Council members. Although financial support from the California Department of Education/Child Development Division (CDD) increased substantially in the early 2000s, Council activities are still strongly supported by in-kind services. The fifty percent reduction in funding from CDD in October 2010 dramatically reduced staff support for the Council and has placed further reliance on the volunteer efforts of its members.
From the beginning, Council members have worked to coordinate and plan the delivery of early care and education services in Santa Barbara County. The Council serves as liaison between the State Department of Education, Child Development Division and the local community.Child Care Planning Council members are advocates for accessible, and affordable, high quality early care and education throughout Santa Barbara County. In 1996 the Council prepared the Status Report Child Care in Santa Barbara County with staff support and funding from the County Human Services Division. The report was designed to present the facts with regard to the current status of child care in the county and to encourage local action in support of quality child care.
In 1999, the Council completed a needs assessment of early care and education in Santa Barbara County and subsequently developed a 5-year strategic plan for early care and education for the entire county. Two more Needs Assessments were completed in 2005 and 2010, informing the preparation and revision of The Santa Barbara County Strategic Plan for Early Care and Education, 2006 and 2015. Council members participate on ad hoc committees and engage other community stakeholders to support implementation of the Strategic Plan.
A $1.9 million, 3-year grant was received by the Council from the Santa Barbara County Children & Families Commission in July 2000, to initiate the Santa Barbara County Office of Early Care & Education. The Office, which became a program of First 5 in 2004 and is now the First 5 Santa Barbara County Early Care and Education Division, furthers the goals of the Strategic Plan by focusing on increasing early care and education capacity, eliciting government and business support for early care and education and family-friendly policies, and supporting program quality improvement for centers and family child care homes.
Since its inception the Council has advocated for high quality early care and education services for the children and families of Santa Barbara County and has actively supported efforts to improve the quality of programs available to families countywide. In 2009 the Council launched the Quality Child Care campaign with an informative website for all sectors of the community, qualitychildcaresb.org, tours of high quality early care and education programs and distribution of campaign materials. Efforts to engage the community in the high quality early care and education campaign continue. Since 2007, the Council has also spearheaded an ECE Leadership Development Project as a critical avenue to improved program quality.