On June 27, 2018 Governor Brown signed a $200 billion budget that includes critical wins for the early care and education (ECE) field. While significant gaps in funding for ECE remain, the budget will help more families gain access to child care, and help early educators improve and expand their facilities and access to professional development. Key ECE highlights in the budget include:
- 13,407 new Alternative Payment Program slots, which provide flexible child care options for working families
- $167.2M for an Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program, designed to increase the availability of early education and care for children ages 0 to 5, especially in low-income, high-need areas of the state. Program funds may be used for one-time infrastructure costs, such as training, equipment and facilities renovation.
- $158.3M for a voluntary CalWORKs Home Visiting Initiative pilot program. This program will provide up to 24 months of home visiting services to pregnant women and families with a child under the age of two, with priority given to first-time pregnant women and parents. The purpose of the program is to help young families reach self-sufficiency by improving family engagement practices, supporting healthy development of young children living in poverty, and preparing parents for employment.
- $39.7 million to increase the reimbursement rate adjustment factors for child care providers serving infants, toddlers, children with exceptional needs, and severely disabled children.
- $10 million for an Inclusive Early Care Pilot Program to expand existing or create new programs to support the inclusion of children with exceptional needs in child care and early education settings.
- $5 million for licensed child care teacher professional development
- $5 million for the California Child Care Initiative, which recruits and trains family child care providers
- The budget also honors the commitments made in the FY 2016-17 budget to increase provider reimbursement rates, to provide for preschool cost of living adjustments, and to fund an additional 2,959 full-day State Preschool slots.
The new investments of state and federal dollars in this year’s budget represent important strides toward building an ECE system that provides a great start in life to all of California’s most vulnerable children. The diversity of ECE investments reflected in the budget also demonstrates the need to bolster multiple elements of the state’s ECE system. Currently, only 33 percent of low-income families with children from birth to age 5 have access to subsidized care, and only 14 percent of ECE providers participate in the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The need to do better by our youngest learners is clear, as the zero to five range represents the most critical window for children when the architecture of their brains is being developed. Child360 looks forward to working with the legislature, the incoming Governor and fellow ECE advocates to expand access to, and improve the quality of, early learning opportunities for California’s children when they need it most.