This weekend, California’s lawmakers released the Legislature’s joint budget proposal, expanding access to state-funded preschool to all four-year-olds living in neighborhoods where more than 80% of the children are eligible for free or reduced lunch. This means that working families who currently are not eligible for subsidies but often struggle to afford the high cost of preschool programs will now have access to high-quality preschool.
The Legislature’s proposed budget shows a commitment to significantly increasing investment in Early Learning. In addition to funding preschool expansion, the budget supports training for Early Learning teachers, funds additional childcare spaces, provides initial funding for a statewide Early Childhood Education data system and removes the requirement that families be working or in school in order to access full-day state-funded preschool. You can learn more about the proposed Early Learning Budget here.
This budget proposal is aligned with the goals of AB 123 (McCarty), co-sponsored by Early Edge and Kidango. While AB 123 proposes to expand access to state preschool to all four-year-olds living in districts where 70% of children are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, the budget expands access to state preschool to four-year-olds living in neighborhoods where a greater percentage (80%) of children are disadvantaged.
We applaud the Legislature for supporting the goals of community eligibility and preschool expansion, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to achieve Governor Newsom’s goal of universal preschool for all California children.