California Budget Adds $271 Million to Support Child Care
The 2017-18 (fiscal year) California State Budget will add about $271 million to support child care and early education for the state’s working families and their children. The increases will affect San Francisco’s working families in a big way.
Combined with the roll-out of the new Early Learning Scholarship system by the city of San Francisco, and a local $6.1 million proposed increase in our city child care budget, this will mean substantially better care for our kids and support for our families and early educators.
Last month the governor and state legislators approved a budget that addresses long-standing policy issues limiting families’ access to subsidized child care and early education. Plus, rates paid to child care providers and early educators will go up – much closer to a living wage than at any time since the recession.
With this increase, and those in recent years, the State will have made up about 75% of the billion dollars in cuts to child care and early education funding during the recession.
Here’s why these changes matter!
The access issues:
- Eligibility for child care and early education programs is based on family income. Since the recession, the income eligibility ceiling has been frozen at 70% of the 2005 state median income (adjusted for family size). With the new budget, the legislature finally thawed the eligibility ceiling, updating it to current state median income, allowing families to receive assistance until their incomes reach 85% of the state median income. With this change, families can accept pay increases and extra hours of work without jeopardizing their child care subsidies.
- In the past, families were required to report any changes in work hours, pay or school enrollment in order to maintain their subsidies. Parents were in constant jeopardy of losing eligibility or approved hours for their child’s enrollment in child care and early education programs. Now families across the state will only need to certify their eligibility for child care once per year. (Note: San Francisco is part of a pilot program that requires families re-certify only once every 24 months.) This policy reduces stress on both families and child care providers and enables children to have more consistent care.
The rate issue:
- The rates paid by the state to child care providers do not cover costs or provide adequate wages for early educators in San Francisco. The new budget includes rate increases of over 10%, depending on setting and type of subsidy. Pay rates continue to fall short of the actual cost of care in San Francisco, but this increase is a step in the right direction.
There is still work to be done
While we celebrate this progress, we cannot forget that hundreds of thousands of subsidy-eligible children throughout the state still do not have financial assistance to pay for care because state funding remains far below need.
There is no more important investment than caring for our children in the first five years of their life—helping parents afford child care, so that they can work and advance economically, and helping children get the quality education they need to be ready for school and for life!
Please join us to achieve our goal of making quality child care and early education a reality for all children in our city and our state.
Share this with your network via the social media buttons below!