Workforce Equity Screen Tool
Across the state and country, communities of color and low-income communities––the very same communities that make up a large percentage of the Expanded Learning workforce––are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. CAN rapidly convened Expanded Learning stakeholders across California to surface the impact of COVID-19 on the Expanded Learning workforce. To ensure the Expanded Learning field advances equity- and justice-centered recovery strategies, an equity strategy screen was developed: Considerations for an Equitable Recovery for the Expanded Learning Workforce.
The tool is intended to ensure that recovery decisions, policies, and strategies best meet the needs of employees most negatively impacted by COVID-19. The equity screen consists of questions that are designed to guide the development of solutions in sections listed below:
- Overarching Equity Considerations
- State-Level Policy, Funding, and Advocacy
- Staff Retention and School Day Partnership
- Staff Emotional and Physical Safety
- Basic Needs of Staff
- Professional Development, Training, Skills, and Competencies
*Each Equity Screen section is available to the right along with a downloadable file.
Additional Equity Screen Tool Information
EXL Workforce Demographics
The EXL Workforce is largely made up of people of color, in part-time employment with limited to no benefits. A 2012 study found that 69% of the afterschool workforce in California are people of color, 65% are female, and 69% are part time workers. For the largest Expanded Learning providers in the state, 78% live in the communities they work in.
As a result, it is imperative that the needs of the EXL Workforce are addressed while they carry out this essential work supporting communities most negatively impacted by COVID-19.
For more information on the Expanded Learning workforce in California, check out:
- 2012 Afterschool Workforce Survey Findings, CalSAC
- The Expanded Learning Workforce: Essential, Frontline Workers Serving Kids & Families, Partnership for Children and Youth
Key Definitions in the Equity Screen
Expanded Learning (EXL) refers to before and after school, summer, and intersession learning experiences; that develop the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs and interests of students. EXL opportunities should be hands-on, engaging, student-centered, results-driven; involve community partners, and complement learning activities the regular school day/year.
The EXLD is the California Department of Education’s Expanded Learning Division.
The System of Support for Expanded Learning (SSEL) is the regional and statewide structure designed to build the capacity of Expanded Learning programs to meet all grant requirements defined in California statute and to promote high-quality programs and services. The SSEL consists of EXLD staff, designated county leads/staff, and contracted TA providers.
About the Equity Screen
Building upon the Recommendations for the Development of a Diverse and Thriving Expanded Learning Workforce developed in 2019, over 40 stakeholders responded to a survey and convened twice for two-hour meetings in May 2020 and June 2020 to rapidly identify the workforce challenges in the context of COVID-19, and inform solutions that center low-income workers and workers of color.
As a result, the equity screen was developed. The tool is informed by representatives from EXL programs throughout California as well as various stakeholder groups including the SSEL, EXL TA providers, CBOs, and higher education.
It is intended to support the Expanded Learning Division (EXLD) of the CDE, technical assistance (TA) providers, program providers, district leadership, and policymakers with ensuring solutions that are explored best meet the needs of employees most negatively impacted by COVID-19.
The following questions should be considered in any decision related to policies and programming that impact the EXL Workforce:
The COVID-19 Workforce Advisory Group determined that EXL providers need continued direction and guidance from the CDE on grant requirements, legislation, and education code changes that impact them. Senate Bill 98 provided much-needed flexibility, allowing EXL providers to continue to support youth and families, partner with the instructional day, and keep EXL staff employed.
Pre-COVID-19, many EXL providers already faced recruitment and retention challenges. As various program structures emerge, consideration of how potential structures impact the job functions of EXL positions, and thus the existing and potential workforce, is needed. More virtual and distance learning environments could result in fewer returning staff, while some staff may not be able to provide physical programming but could utilize their skills in other areas.
Ibram X. Kendi describes the nation in the midst of two crises: “a racial pandemic within the viral pandemic-older than 1896, but as new as COVID-19, and the murder of George Floyd.” Like youth and families, EXL staff may be experiencing overwhelming anxiety, stress, feelings of isolation; “survivor’s guilt”, and other traumas.
Like youth and families, EXL staff may be experiencing increased hardships in securing their own basic needs including child care, housing, food security, stable internet, adequate technology devices; stable hours and income, healthcare, and home care for other residents in the home. Some staff may be wondering if and how they will complete post-secondary education, or how their or their families’ immigration status might affect their ability to access available resources.
EXL must be prepared to both deal with the way programs will be restructured operationally, including but not limited to: extended hours, strict safety guidelines, and evolving reopening plans. Staff also need to be equipped with specific skills and competencies to respond to the social-emotional needs of children, youth, and their families. While many EXL providers and staff quickly moved to emergency response teaching and learning, shifting to true distance learning will also require additional training and development.