Last Friday, January 10th, Governor Newsome presented his Budget Proposal. The summary document is over 250 pages and his presentation lasted almost three hours. Compared with last year’s record-setting reinvestment in early care and education (ECE), the proposed funding increases for child care and preschool are relatively modest.

The largest increase is $32M in 2020-21, and $137M thereafter, for 10,000 more State Preschool slots for non- school district providers beginning in April 2021. The proposal also suggests using an additional $10.3M from the Cannabis Fund to support an additional 621 child care slots and switching funding for an additional 3,000 slots from the General Fund to the Cannabis Fund. Anticipated changes in the CalWORKS caseload will require an additional $54M to maintain services for eligible families in that program and the Governor has also proposed additional funding of $34M to increase the amount of money that flows directly to CalWORKS families. Following on from last year’s facilities investments, the Governor suggested providing an additional $75M in funding for inclusive early education projects, and to take a portion of unused full-day kindergarten expansion funds for school districts to build preschool facilities.
The proposal also included $250M in one-time special education funding to school districts based on the number of children ages 3-5 with disabilities to increase or improve services, $10M for an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) cross-sector training program, and expanded job protections for parents using paid family leave.

Perhaps the most significant change was the proposal to create a Department of Early Childhood Development, in the California Health Human Services Agency, that would include most of the state’s array of early childhood programs. This would consolidate the Early Childhood Policy Council created in last year’s budget, CalWORKs, voucher-based and direct contract childcare programs, Head Start and Early Head Start coordination, the developing ECE data system, the state’s county-based Local ECE Planning Councils, the emergency Child Care Bridge for foster children, and ECE quality programs in a single department. The California Department of Education would continue to operate the State Preschool Program.

Additional details on these proposals will be included in the various budget trailer bills that will be introduced beginning next month. A revised Budget proposal will be released in mid-May before negotiations with the legislature and final passage of the State Budget in June.