The California Child Care Resource & Referral Network is hosting Memories and Metaphors – An Evening of Remembering and Celebrating the Life of Patty Siegel. This evening of celebrating and honoring Patty for her work in the child care field and her steadfast commitment to children, families, and child care providers will occur at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sacramento on Thursday, April 21st. The evening will include a reception from 5:00 to 6:30 followed by a dinner from 6:30 – 10:00 p.m. For more information about and to register for this evening, please click on the following link http://www.rsvpbook.com/CelebratingPatty.
For questions, please contact Cindy Mall, 415-494-4642, email@example.com.
It is with great sadness that we announce that Patty Siegel, founder and executive director of the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network (Network) from 1980 through 2011 passed away on December 25, 2015.
Patty was a tireless leader and passionate advocate for children, families, and child care providers in California and nationally. Since 1970, she had been actively involved in the development and delivery of child care services, combining perspectives as a teacher, as a parent-organizer, and as the founding director of one of the nation's first child care resource and referral agencies, the Childcare Switchboard in San Francisco, which is now the Children’s Council San Francisco.
Her career in child care began in the early 70’s when Patty and her husband Sandy had three small children, Toby, Tara, and Kelsey. Patty’s family, along with 11 other families, came together to form the Yellow Garage playgroup in San Francisco. Within two months of its opening, the Yellow Garage had a waiting list of more than 20 parents. At about that same time, the Rosenberg Foundation funded a study to look at the social service needs of young families in San Francisco. What the survey found was that families expressed a need for a “childcare switchboard” where parents could call to learn about their child care options. In 1972, the Rosenberg Foundation made a small grant to start up the Childcare Switchboard and Patty was one of the original staff members. And thus her journey in R&R was underway.
A few years later, shortly after being inaugurated in 1975, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation which would have expanded child care funding in the Department of Education by $10 million. In his veto message, he pledged to make an equal amount of funds available for an “alternative child care program” intended to expand parental choice, address geographic equity in the distribution of child care funds and services for low-income families, and test cost-effective models of providing service.
At about that same time, the Child Care Switchboard under Patty’s leadership and BANANAS R&R were involved in a dispute with the state over the limited child care options available to families as a result of county interpretations of state licensing regulations for family child care homes. Providers that did not speak English or were not married were denied child care licenses. Seeking a remedy to the injustice of this situation, parents and R&Rs were represented by the Employment Law Center in San Francisco which filed a lawsuit to remove the discriminatory licensing practices. In the course of the negotiations with the State of California, the plaintiffs caught the attention of one of Jerry Brown’s cabinet members who recognized that the issues in dispute seemed to apply to “alternative child care.”
It wasn’t long before the Governor’s office invited the attorneys and plaintiffs of the lawsuit to discuss how to achieve the objectives set forth in his alternative child care proposal. At that meeting, Patty Siegel, and Arlyce Currie from BANANAS, made the case for child care information and referral services arguing that parental choice could not be addressed without providing parents with information about their child care choices. This meeting formed the basis for AB 3059. AB 3059 provided $900,000 out of the $10 million of Alternative Child Care Program funds for child care information and referral services. With this initial state funding, 11 R&R agencies were funded. After two more pieces of legislation were passed, one sponsored by the Network, R&R services were available in every county in California.
As more and more state-funded R&Rs came into existence, the need for a coordinating entity that could provide support, technical assistance and training to the local R&Rs became apparent and in 1980 Patty founded the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network. In her role as Executive Director of the Network, Patty was an active participant in shaping state and federal policy for children and families. Patty valued the importance of data and research as a key part of advocacy and planning; she spearheaded the creation of the California Child Care Portfolio documenting the supply and demand of child care statewide and county by county. The report is now in its 10th edition. She was instrumental in creating the Child Care Initiative Project (CCIP), a statewide public-private partnership to expand the supply of licensed quality child care by recruiting and training new family child care providers, with special emphasis on infants and toddlers and Spanish speaking communities. She inspired and guided the development of Parent Voices, a grassroots parent-led, effort to engage and empower parents to actively and successfully participate in the policy process. She was also involved in the expansion and implementation of TrustLine, California’s registry of license-exempt caregivers. All three of these programs, CCIP, Parent Voices, and TrustLine continue to be active and thriving programs at the Network today.
Beyond her role at the Network, Patty was actively involved with a wide variety of state and national organizations and foundations committed to quality child care. She was integral to the establishment of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) now named Child Care Aware of America. She also served as one of the original state commissioners for the California Children and Families First Commission (First Five), represented California in the Children’s Defense Fund state child care advocates network, and had the honor of being invited by the Clinton administration to the White House to speak.
Patty was a voice at policy tables locally, statewide, and nationally-reminding governments, elected officials, corporations, foundations, the press, and anyone who would listen- about the role of child care as a vital component of the educational, economic, and social structure of communities.
Patty’s work in the child care field will impact generations of children and families to come as the people that she worked with, who heard her speak, who were her friends and neighbors, and even the people she met on the bus or on the street corner were changed by the Patty magic. These individuals have taken what they learned from and were inspired by Patty to do and they’ve lifted up their voices to advocate in their circles and communities.
Patty was the eternal advocate. Not only did she advocate for what was best for children and families but for what was best for the person right in front of her. Although she made amazing speeches, got to meet a U.S. president and sat with Governors, Senators, Representatives and others in leadership positions, she also took time to talk one-on-one with individuals she worked with, people she met at conferences and rallies, and those she met while shopping or travelling – she always made them feel like they were the most important person in the room.
Patty’s mission and life’s work was to speak truth to power for children, for parents and families, and for child care providers. She epitomized the Heart of R&R as she inspired generations of R&R staff to make their work not a job but a calling. A calling to provide parents and child care providers with information, support and training with the ultimate goal that families would be able to make informed child care choices and children would be cared for in safe, healthy child care environments by caregivers that supported their growth, encouraged their learning, and helped them thrive.
Patty’s family was always at the core of what she did. She often said she wouldn’t have been able to do what she did without the love and support of her husband of 49 years, Sandy Siegel. She was so proud of her children and her grandchildren, Declan, Caio, Oona, and Thiago and she was actively involved in their lives. Upon her retirement from the Network, she lovingly referred to herself as her grandchildren’s license exempt provider. She supported her grandchildren’s preschools, participated in her grandsons elementary schools as a volunteer and supported their school activities. She did this while also advocating at the school level and serving at the local level on the City and County’s Oversight and Advisory Committee of the Department of Children, Youth and Families. As she nurtured, guided and reveled in her family she also created and nurtured programs and services that will have a lasting impact on generations of children.
As we remember and honor Patty and her lifelong accomplishments, we open our arms wide and welcome all who are called to work on behalf of children and families to continue with renewed passion to speak truth to power and fight with purpose and resolve for parents, child care providers and most of all, children.
Please share your favorite memories of Patty here:
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Her spunk and ferocity were inspiring and her personal warmth and joy in the work made it fun to fight along her side, even when we lost! Patty’s development of a statewide R&R network and clearinghouse of child care data and resources, and her development of a grassroots Parent Voices coalition were stellar achievements.
I’m heartbroken that she left us too soon, and will miss a long and well-deserved retirement and the chance to see her grandchildren grow…but may they take some solace in her unique spirit.
Thanks for everything you did for California’s youngest kids, Patty!
Laurie True, California WIC Association
God bless her family in their time of sorrow.