Strong Investment in Young Children and Families Who Care for Them in California

In June, Governor Brown signed the 2016-17 California state budget—and it’s a strong investment in young children and the adults who care for and educate them!

The budget includes significant multiyear investments beginning with an additional $147 million in 2016-17 that is expected to grow to more than $500 million in 2019-20. These investments expand early childhood opportunities, sustain the infrastructure of early education and care programs, and set the stage for progress in the future.

The budget includes the following investments:

  • Provider Reimbursement Rates: Starting January 1, 2017, invests additional $67.6 million to increase standard reimbursement rates and $69.9 million to increase regional market reimbursement rates to address the minimum wage increase and help providers cover the cost of care.
  • Access: Starting March 1, 2017, invests additional $7.8 million to provide access to full-day state preschool for nearly 3,000 eligible children. Over four years, nearly 9,000 full-day state preschool slots will be added for $100 million.
  • Early Childhood Workforce: Invests $1.4 million in one-time funds for Los Angeles Trade-Tech Community College to provide job training, mentoring and college courses through an Early Care and Education Apprenticeship Pilot Program.
  • Quality: Requires the California Department of Education to develop a new quality funding expenditure plan that shall prioritize activities that support the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).

It’s clear early childhood and cross-sector advocates made a significant difference in elevating children, families, and providers in this budget. State policymakers heard our voices. The Brown Administration engaged in a meaningful conversation about early learning, legislative leadership stood up for investments in children, and the Legislative Women’s Caucus staunchly prioritized children in the budget.

In more good news, transitional kindergarten (TK) is officially safe and remains law! During the budget process, the Legislature rejected a proposal to merge early childhood funding and eliminate TK, a kindergarten readiness program with promising evidence of effectiveness, for as many as 125,000 young children. We thank legislators, the many K-12, early childhood, equity, faith, business, labor, and public safety leaders, and more than 3,200 mothers and other Californians, who voiced their support for TK.

This year’s investments were essential to stabilizing early learning programs, but there is more work ahead and California is now well positioned to make even greater progress in the future. We have a window of opportunity to provide more young children with higher quality early experiences that support their development and learning so they can reach their full potential. We also need to ensure the adults working with children are truly supported and prepared to promote the best outcomes for young children. There’s already promise for the future with the development of the Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Care and Education, which will serve to improve services for children 0-3 and to develop options for establishing Universal Pre-K for all 4 year olds.

We look forward to continuing to build on the progress that California has made this year so that we can help lift families out of poverty, narrow the achievement gap, and set children on a path to success.

-Deborah Kong, President, Early Edge California
(September 21, 2016)