Joint Committee to Develop a Master Plan for Education
Affordability of A High-Quality Education System
Early Childhood Education
The State should develop and fund a per-child allocation model for financing early child care and education, sufficient to meet the new system's quality standards and organizational infrastructure requirements.
Today, young children and their families are served by a variety of agencies with various funding streams. Each has specific eligibility guidelines and requirements. This arrangement provides neither the level of funding nor the efficient coordination needed to ensure the well-being and school readiness of California's young children. California therefore needs to develop an equitable per-child allocation model for financing early child care and education. This model should include creating an allocation for all children, birth to kindergarten, to provide school readiness services to them and their families through local School Readiness Centers, and an initial allocation, to be phased in until it becomes a guarantee, to fund early child care and education services and flexible support services for all low-income families with children from birth to age three.
The allocation model also should fund the organizational infrastructure of the new early child care and education system, including professional development, to quality improvement and data collection, for better accountability. To accomplish these recommendations, we propose the following:
The State should consolidate, under the California Department of Education, all child development funding sources, including those from the departments of Education and Social Services, and create new sources of revenue to augment existing funds.
The State should create a Financing Task Force to calculate the per-child allocation needed to fund high-quality early education services and organizational infrastructure for low-income newborns to three-year olds, and for school readiness services for families with children, from birth to kindergarten.
The State should improve the availability, quality, and maintenance of early education facilities.
In the absence of explicit attention from policymakers, shortages of qualified facilities are likely to hamper expansion of preschool and early child care programs. Pressures will intensify as preschool programs expand toward universal access, although encouraging the participation of existing child care and preschool providers in state-approved programs will help. However, as employers and individuals become increasingly aware of the benefits of providing high-quality child care and preschool opportunities in their businesses and communities, the State will have an opportunity to collaborate broadly to reduce the direct costs of building an entire network of facilities for providers. Specific actions needed to advance this recommendation include the following:
The State should increase the number of school facilities serving young children.
The State should provide incentives to stimulate facility construction and development.
The State should provide incentives for employers to implement family-friendly policies geared to helping parents carry out their responsibilities for nurturing and facilitating the readiness of their children for success in formal schooling.