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Advancement Project works alongside community partners to transform public systems and shift investments to achieve racial equity. Children Now serves as a hub for supporting and connecting thousands of groups in California to create an unprecedented power base for young children birth through age 26, employing research, policy, communications, and advocacy strategies to advance a range of children’s issues: early childhood, education reform, children’s health, foster care and juvenile justice.

State Allies:

Advancement Project California • Los Angeles & San Francisco, CA
Children Now • Oakland, CA
Top Priorities for 2021

Advocate for an Office of Equity within the state’s early care and education infrastructure to establish clear guidelines for accountability and transparency to ensure equity. (Advancement Project California)

Promote the use of an equity-based formula to allocate funds to early learners and K-12 students most impacted by the pandemic. (Advancement Project California)

Advance the development of whole family wellness hubs in areas of highest need to provide children and families with a holistic approach to education, health, and wellness. (Advancement Project California)

Protect the early care and education budget and financing, especially support for children furthest from opportunity, such as infants and toddlers, children in foster care system, and dual language learners. (Children Now)

Develop policies and strategies that develop increased and aligned professional standards, link them to effectively financed higher compensation, and create a more coherent state-level workforce development infrastructure, including supports for dual language learners and educators. (Children Now)

Support the development and adoption of a cradle-to-career integrated data system that links child-specific data to systems, policymakers, families, and the public to inform decision-making. (Children Now)

California’s 2020 Early Childhood Policy Landscape and Progress:

Estimated FY20 State General Fund Expenditures

House (D), Senate (D)
Governor (D)

1,531,920 Young Children (0-8) are Below 200% FPL

Early in the year, the state faced a healthy budget surplus and optimistic outlook for the future. The pandemic shifted this landscape significantly. California now faces billions of dollars of potential deficit and lost revenue. This shifted the entire budget and legislative landscape as funding was cut or paused and bills streamlined.

Allies in California focused on preserving programs. The 2020-2021 final budget preserves funding for early learning and care programs to the greatest extent possible, given the constraints of the COVID-19 recession. Access, reimbursement rate levels, and quality investments have been maintained or have grown, with a specific focus on serving the children of income-eligible workers essential to the fight against COVID-19.

There were also successes in maternal health, paid family leave, children’s health, and tax credits for young children.

*Early childhood policy progress in a state is the result of numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

More from California:

California Early Childhood Policy Advocacy

Hard Work in California Wins Continuing Expansions of Evidence-Based Home Visiting

Alliance for Early Success’ California ally, Children Now, continues to push for expansion of voluntary evidence-based home visiting in California. Read about the state’s significant progress that is projected to double evidence-based home visiting, and about the critical work still ahead that will reduce complexity across funding streams and set the foundation for further expansion over the long term.

Read More »

Download the full 50-State report.

The Alliance for Early Success 2020 50-State Progress Report on Early Childhood Policy expands state data (disaggregating low-income young children by race) and provides high-level state policy trend analysis for the nation as a whole. Click the icon to download the report.

State Budget Data: National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), “Table 4: Fiscal 2020 State General Fund, Estimated (Millions); The Fiscal Survey of the States.” Spring, 2020

Low-Income Data (including disaggregation by race): National Center for Children in Poverty, “NCCP Analysis of ACS 1-year Estimates—Public Use Microdata Sample, 2019.”

State Action Data: Provided by state advocates, October-November 2020, with analysis and synthesis by Frontera Strategy for Alliance for Early Success, “Protecting Progress and Investing in Scale: The 2020 50-State Progress Report on Early Childhood Education Policy.”

Additional State Actions: Mincic, Melissa,  Early Care and Education, State Budget Actions, Fiscal Year 2020. National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), October 2020. 


The Alliance for Early Success is achieving large-scale, long-lasting change for the state’s young children by providing our allies with powerful advantages that help them shape California early childhood state policy.

Strategic, Outcomes-Focused Investments

Consulting and Strategy

Technical Support from National Expertise

Rapid Response Support

Connections/Access to Allies in Similar States

Roles in National Communities of Practice