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Proposed Budget Aids the State's Most Vulnerable Kids, but Doesn't Go Far Enough

May 11, 2017

 

OAKLAND, CA – The May Revision of the state budget is a mixed bag for the state’s most vulnerable kids. While the proposal does restore previously proposed cuts to child care and preschool, it doesn’t fully recognize the reality of working families who need quality early care options. On the positive side, the Governor does include needed funds to support foster youth living with family members.

The Governor reversed his initial proposal to “pause” last year’s commitment to incrementally raise reimbursement rates for state-funded child care and preschool programs to keep pace with the increasing state minimum wage and the rising cost of providing quality services. By returning to last year’s good faith deal, which also included expanding state preschool, the May Revise avoids seriously harming an already fragile and under-resourced system.

However, the May Revise ignores the staggering unmet need for subsidized child care across the state: over 1.2 million eligible low-income children are not receiving child development services. The proposal misses critical opportunities to counteract the impacts of poverty by not increasing the income eligibility limit for families receiving child care assistance, which is outdated by more than a decade, nor expanding the family eligibility period to 12 months, which would ensure greater consistency in children’s care and reduce bureaucratic burdens on working families and employers.

“We applaud Governor Brown for his wise decision to fulfill last year’s commitment to child care and preschool programs,” Children Now President Ted Lempert said. “Yet, because California’s future prosperity depends on quality early learning programs that give kids a strong start intellectually, socially, and emotionally, the May Revise still misses the mark by failing to leverage available resources to expand funding beyond the baseline commitment made last year.”

On the positive side, the Governor’s proposal finishes work started last year to support family members who take in foster children. Historically, these families received less financial support than non-relative caregivers. In 2016, the state established parity for relative caregivers in the foster care rate system. The budget proposal includes funding to expand this parity to foster children with developmental disabilities and foster youth with young children of their own, creating a fair rate system for all caregivers.

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Children Now is a nonpartisan, multi-issue research, policy development, and advocacy organization dedicated to promoting children's health and education in California and creating national media policies that support child development. Learn more about us at www.childrennow.org.

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