On October 13, Governor Gavin Newsom made his final legislative actions for the year, signing or vetoing dozens of bills. In making his decisions, the Governor prioritized fiscal restraint, citing concerns that California will soon be facing an economic contraction. Overall, it was a historic year of investment in Early Childhood Education, and we expect more progress in the years to come.
The Governor signed the following bills relating to early childhood:
- AB 378 permits childcare providers in California to unionize and collectively bargain with the state. Governor Newsom’s signature caps the end of a fifteen-year battle to allow workers to unionize – similar bills have passed the Legislature and been vetoed six times by Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Brown. This new law will lead to higher-quality early learning across the state by improving training, professional development, and retention for the caregivers of our youngest infants and children through their ability to collective bargain.
- AB 1004 requires pediatricians who serve Medi-Cal patients to use appropriate, evidence-based screening tools and regularly assess for developmental disabilities in young children. Despite such screenings being a Medi-Cal requirement, currently only 36% of children receive screenings at the appropriate time, and many physicians rely on informal observations rather than objective assessments. AB 1004 builds on the $54M investment that the Legislature allocated earlier this year to provide developmental screenings for young children.
- AB 577 provides mental health services to mothers on Medi-Cal with postpartum depression for up to 12 months after the birth of their child. Previously, such services were capped at 60 days.
- AB 464 requires all providers who work with pregnant women and new mothers to receive implicit bias training. Currently, African-Americans face maternal and infant mortality rates that exceed other populations, and there is a growing body of evidence that African-American women are often treated unfairly and unequally in the health care system. Implicit bias training is an effort to create better birth outcomes and reduced maternal mortality for black mothers.
- AB 406 requires that the application to receive paid family leave be translated into languages spoken by 5% or more of people eligible for the program. Currently, women of color are far less likely to take paid leave (which is paid for through employee contributions) after the birth of a child than other mothers. This bill will help families apply for benefits to which they are entitled.
- SB 234, the “Keeping Kids Close to Home Act,” will increase childcare availability by allowing family childcare providers to operate a large childcare home (up to 14 children) without having to comply with additional permitting or regulations from the city or county in which they live. Previously, small providers who wished to expand were sometimes prevented from doing so by local laws that required expensive permitting or regulations they could not comply with (for example, by providing a certain number of parking spaces). This law will allow providers to serve more children, providing families with greater flexibility and choice.