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Early Learning Roadmap

Cover of the Marin County Early Learning Roadmap showing the title and a photo of a father and child on a hike

The Challenge

Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is a new grade in California public school education, open to children who are age 4 by fall. It is changing the landscape of early care in California, because many more children can receive a full year of pre-school learning for free–an important step in California’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) effort. As more 4-year-olds attend TK, other ECE programs–child care centers, Family Child Care Homes, and preschools–are gearing up to serve younger children. 

It’s not a simple switch, however. Fewer infants and toddlers can be in each early learning class or program than preschool-aged children due to more stringent teacher-child ratio requirements. So, programs receive less payment. In high cost of living places like Marin County, this is a significant challenge to maintaining a robust, qualified workforce. Marin County’s early childhood stakeholders, led by the Marin Community Foundation, knew that they’d need to be proactive to support this critical workforce and strengthen the entire early learning system so it will work for families and early educators.

How can a planning process put all stakeholders in the driver’s seat to shape a vision and define actionable strategies? 


The Approach

VIVA’s approach to constructing an Early Learning Roadmap was a co-creation model from beginning to end. This means that ECE stakeholders, parents, and the workforce were engaged in defining: operational terms, the goals and desired outcomes of the Roadmap, and ultimately, the strategies within the Roadmap. 

The co-creation effort required extensive community engagement in English and Spanish with both in-person and virtual events located throughout Marin County. This process evolved as learnings were gathered, with key decisions made along the way to deepen and expand the engagement of community members. Read more about the community engagement process and how it evolved.

The resulting plan maps out each significant area of Marin County’s early childhood system. It sets goals and actionable strategies for supporting families and the ECE workforce through the UPK transition and beyond.

A Task Force consisting of the Marin Community Foundation, County of Marin, Marin County Office of Education, First 5 Marin, Marin Child Care Council (MC3), and Marin County Child Care Commission (MC4) served as stewards to the co-creation process.

Marin Early Learning Roadmap Cover showing title and image of man and child on a hike in the woods


“Thank you, VIVA, for your process in co-creating the Early Learning Roadmap with Marin County stakeholders. The extensive community engagement resulted in a plan that reflects our vision, ideas, strengths, and needs.”

Don Jen, Education Director, Marin Community Foundation