Early Learning & LCFF
LCFF Can Facilitate Early Learning and Development
Research shows that publicly funded Early Learning investments are among the most cost-effective initiatives districts can pursue to improve the outcomes for kids and should be a prominent component of any K-12 reform strategy. Children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development from birth to kindergarten greatly influences how well kids will be prepared for kindergarten and a lifetime of learning.
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) provides a great new opportunity to better prepare our children for success by providing high-quality Early Learning programs at the local level. The planning and accountability requirements provided by LCFF will prioritize strategies that have significant and lasting impact on all students, especially those traditionally underserved students – English learners, low-income and foster youth – for whom LCFF’s supplemental and concentration funding is intended.
There are five key strategies for districts and community members to promote and expand Early Learning in their local communities through new opportunities created by LCFF:
1. Promote ELD to meet specific state priorities
ELD research and LCFF can be directly linked through the specific state priority areas that must be addressed in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). Numerous studies have demonstrated that quality Early Learning programs can contribute to several LCAP areas, such as student achievement and engagement, school climate and parent involvement.
2. Build relationships to be an effective partner
LCFF requires authentic engagement between communities and districts that will be specifically outlined in a district’s LCAP. There is a critical distinction between community engagement that simply meets requirements and community engagement that is authentic and effective. For community members to position Early Learning effectively within LCFF implementation, they must build enduring and effective partnerships with school districts and stakeholders.
3. Understand the local landscape
While LCFF creates new opportunities for communities to engage in district budget decisions, the district planning process itself is not new. LCAP preparation and focused Early Learning conversations will not happen in a vacuum. It is critical community members understand where they can be most effective, what barriers they will face and what opportunities exist to promote ELD.
4. Tailor an approach to best meet community needs
Early Learning partners should determine what is the most appropriate Early Learning approach the best fits the community’s needs. This may include augmenting and improving an existing local program or ensuring that Early Learning is included in district wide initiatives, such as professional development.
5. Pursue a multi-year vision
The LCAPs that districts will be adopting this year must consider multi-year planning and strategies. Similarly, any local approach to Early Learning should have long-term goals and address how the district will continue to support these opportunities in future years.