January 14, 2020

Big promises for little kids: Has CA governor delivered on early education?

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Governor Newsom’s total spending for child care and preschool during his first year in office is an unprecedented $5.5 billion. That’s not nearly enough to provide affordable, quality education for all the young children who need it. CA has more young children than any other state, and more than half of them are low-income. In addition, years of cuts and lack of investment in early education has left the state lagging behind others in quality of care and access. Hundreds of thousands of children are still not enrolled in subsidized early education programs, even though they meet the income requirement — currently $80,623 or less for a family of four.

Perhaps most importantly, Newsom has invested in planning for the future. He appointed a team of researchers and experts that has already begun meeting to come up with a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, which is meant to be a guide for improving the quality of and access to child care. It will also address how to fulfill another of his campaign promises — universal pre-K, making state-subsidized preschool or transitional kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds, regardless of income.

For parents of young children and some advocates, the wait for widely available and affordable high-quality child care or preschool can be frustrating. But experts say it’s smart to proceed slowly. Early childhood researchers and advocates largely applaud Newsom’s efforts in 2019 and say the steps he took will lay the groundwork needed for building a more comprehensive early education system.

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