At SVCF, our vision is a community where everyone can lead financially secure, safe and fulfilling lives. We believe that focusing on key and interrelated impact areas – early childhood development, housing for extremely low-income and very low-income communities, and financial security – will drive systemic change to help us achieve that vision. Today, we are announcing our Early Childhood Development strategic initiative, our strategy to ensure that all Silicon Valley children and their families have access to quality care, education and resources.
Why Early Childhood Development?
The care and education that children receive in their first years of life are crucial to their future success in the classroom, workforce and life. But when families struggle, babies and young children lack basic necessities like safe housing, healthcare, nutritious food, or access to the high-quality early care and learning experiences that we know can help to offset the effects of sustained stress and adversity often associated with living in poverty. Research shows that when young children do not get what they need, the negative impacts on their developing brains and bodies can last a lifetime, with costly implications to our society as a whole.
Silicon Valley is one of the most prosperous regions in the country, but the wealth inequality here is disgraceful. With the skyrocketing costs of living, many parents struggle to make ends meet, let alone find quality care and early education for their children. The COVID-19 has further exacerbated this fragile situation:
- Approximately one third of families report having skipped or reduced the size of meals
- A third of children have missed critical well-child medical visits
- Over forty percent of caregivers report worries about substance abuse or domestic violence in the home
- Childcare providers – who have played a key role in supporting our economic recovery and have risked their lives during the pandemic – are struggling with decreased capacity, lower income, and higher costs and many may be forced to close due to financial strain and health concerns
The pandemic has disproportionally affected children who are Black, Latinx, low-income, have undocumented status and/or special needs, and is threatening to undo our entire childcare system, much of which is owned and staffed by women of color.
Despite these grave circumstances, the needs of our community’s children facing the most vulnerable circumstances are often overlooked. In philanthropy, other trends and causes draw the attention of donors, and in government, our leaders are not doing enough to prioritize investing in our kids and their families. When we fail to make sure that all babies and children have what they need to get the right start in life, our entire society suffers.
Investing in our children
As a community foundation with a long history of commitment to early learning, SVCF has a unique opportunity to spur greater momentum for action and investment in early care and learning in Silicon Valley. Now, we are building upon the significant work of our Center for Early Learning and evolving those efforts into our Early Childhood Development strategic initiative.
Using our regional, state and federal advocacy voice, our ability to act as a neutral convener, and our grantmaking and investment dollars, we will catalyze philanthropic investment, activate leadership, support action and learning, and expand public and private investment in early care and education to advance policies that support the optimal development of young children. Our goals are to:
- Make childcare affordable for families, specifically of children who are Black, Latinx, low-income, have undocumented status and/or special needs
- Prepare a well-educated childcare workforce that is compensated fairly
- Open up access to capital for childcare facilities, specifically those owned by people who are Black, Latinx or low-income
- Remove barriers to childcare operation
- Ensure that childcare is a viable business and career choice
- Support research into emerging issues and provide responsive grants in times of crisis and great need
Our bold agenda calls for systemic change to early care and education in Silicon Valley, and requires investment, resources and collaboration with partners. We also recognize that social determinants of health – or the conditions in which children live, play and grow – are critical for a young child’s optimal development. As such, we will continue working closely with our donors and community partners to ensure that the needs of young children – particularly those from low-income communities of color, have undocumented status and/or special needs – are elevated.
Every moment during a child’s growth and development counts; right when children enter the world, the neurons in their brains begin forming a million connections per second. We can’t wait any longer. We must show up, speak boldly and ensure their voices are heard and their needs are met. We invite you to join us.
Learn more about SVCF’s Early Childhood Education strategic initiative here.
Support organizations in our local Early Childhood Care and Education Giving Guide here.
Learn more about SVCF’s public policy work here.