A Case Study of Alameda County Child Development Corps
This report on the second year of the implementation of Alameda County’s Child Development Corps (the Corps) as a childcare retention–incentive program describes perspectives and experiences of various stakeholders regarding several components of the program’s structure, implementation, and effects. These findings are drawn from focus group data: group interviews were conducted with program planners and funders, program staff, stipend recipients, and other members of the early care and education (ECE) community in Alameda county. In addition to detailing perspectives on the implementation and effects of the program in Year 2, this report provides guidelines and lessons for policymakers, program planners, ECE advocates, and others who are planning similar initiatives to improve retention. This study is part of a larger evaluation of Childcare Retention Incentive (CRI) programs in San Francisco and Alameda counties being conducted by PACE at the University of California, Berkeley.
Stated program goals for the Alameda Corps program in Year 2 include (1) creating an incentive for ECE staff members to continue their training and remain in the field; (2) encouraging and organizing professional development experiences for ECE staff; and (3) building support for this community and establishing a strong network of ECE professionals.
Stipend recipients were, by and large, satisfied with the application and stipend distribution processes, and with the quality and availability of program staff, but some disagreements surrounded the specificities of stipend awards for those who were bilingual and for those who possessed a graduate degree.
In terms of program effects, recipients valued the monetary and professional recognition conferred by the program, as well as opportunities for professional development, networking, and advocacy. In particular, Alameda’s program was characterized by its rigorous professional development/training criteria for continuing stipend eligibility and perceived impetus for educational advancement. However, focus group participants representing various constituencies felt that the program could not function alone in addressing ECE staff retention—the stipend would not necessarily cause staff to stay in their jobs. They agreed that solutions for these staffing problems need to be implemented within a larger system of support and advocacy for the field, which includes raising public awareness of issues facing the ECE workforce, expanding local opportunities for professional development, and exerting pressure on policymakers for funding to augment ECE staff salaries permanently.