In order to maximize new K-12 investments, California’s leaders must also begin investing more in early learning so all children enter kindergarten prepared to succeed in school.

Unfortunately, the 2013-14 State Budget only includes minimal reinvestment in the state’s early learning system, considering the over $1 billion in cuts made to the system over the past five years—which denied 110,000 vulnerable young children access to preschool and child care. However, the Movement’s efforts did help to block a misguided proposal to restructure the early learning system.

See the Movement’s joint letter of support for early learning that was sent to the state’s leadership.

Modest Gains

  • $50.8 million in additional funding for early learning programs is included in the 2013-14 State Budget. Specifically, this includes a $25 million increase for half-day public preschool. However, the Governor made this increase good for only one year so there is no guarantee that the funding will continue. Family fees for public preschool, which were assessed for the first time last year and have been connected to a drop-off in preschool attendance, will continue. There is also $15.8 million to help make up for impending child care cuts resulting from federal sequestration as well as the reallocation of $10 million in unspent funds from previous years for a small increase in child care access.

  • The budget does not move forward with the Administration’s proposal to restructure California’s early care and education system. The decision to keep early learning under the purview of the California Department of Education (CDE) is critical to strengthening its known connection to children’s success in K-12 and beyond. We encourage the Administration to work with the Legislature and the CDE to focus on expanding and improving the system instead of continuing to push for realignment.

What’s Next?

Our state’s leaders need to recognize that learning does not begin at the age of five (when children enter kindergarten), it begins at birth. There is still much work to be done to gain an increased, stable funding stream for early learning programs that reflects how vitally important they are to the educational continuum. We will urge the Governor and Legislature to commit to a much stronger reinvestment in early education in the coming budget year.