Expansion of California’s preschool program proposed
The California State Preschool Program currently serves the state's low-income three- and four-year-olds. Edsource reports the new proposal to expand the program to children as young as two is part of the K-12 "trailer bill," clarifying policies related to the state budget for 2022-23.
Typically, the governor revises the proposed budget in May and the Legislature is required to approve it by June.
Currently, the state has almost three million children under the age of five. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, at Rutgers, California trails behind other states in terms of access to early education, with only 37 percent enrolled in transitional kindergarten and the state's subsidized preschool program.
Some childhood advocates see this proposal as a big step forward, particularly for working families and communities of color.
Cost is a key reason this expansion of the state's preschool would be a game-changer for working families struggling to make it in a high-cost state. About six-of-10 California children under 12 live in a family where all parents are working, according to the California Budget and Policy Center. While the need is high, 60 percent live in a child care desert with limited access to caregivers.