Historic funding for ECE in CA, but we still have work to do!
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Children’s Council is proud to have been at the forefront of child care advocacy over the past year. Together with early education advocates across the state, we celebrate that California made historic investments in early care and education in the latest State budget.
But what does this mean for California families as they reenter the workforce and want to ensure their children receive a quality education?
The new California budget makes groundbreaking investments in our Early Care & Education (ECE) system by:
(1) More than doubling the number of low-income children who can receive child care vouchers for free or reduced child care
(2) Providing critical investments to train and recruit new ECE educators to meet the needs of low-income children and
(3) Waiving family fees for the upcoming year. These investments will be huge for CA families with young children, if the implementation is successful.
However questions remain.
The State has proposed adding an additional 120,000 new child care slots next year and another 80,000 by 2025. This is an admirable goal, but one that simply cannot be met without substantial investments in Alternative Payment (AP) agencies who will have to process twice as many vouchers as usual, as well as for Child Care Resource and Referral agencies that will connect families to early education programs.
Without AP startup funding to hire enough staff to administer the new child care vouchers, the State will be unable to disperse all the vouchers to families in need. Organizations across the state, like Children’s Council, need to quickly increase staffing in order to facilitate this major increase in child care voucher distribution work.
Recently the Governor’s office reached an agreement with Child Care Providers United (CCPU), to raise educator rates to 75% of the most current (2018) Regional Market Rate (RMR).
We applaud both the 40,000 members of the CCPU for their tenacity and hard work, as well as our State leaders who came to the bargaining table, and we’re hopeful that this is the beginning of an ongoing discussion to bring our ECE workforce to 100% of the most recent RMR on an ongoing basis. These rate increases will allow early educators to earn a living wage, and attract new teachers to the workforce.
Currently, ECE educators make significantly less than K-12 teachers. Wage gaps between the set State rates and market rates will exacerbate the current workforce crisis for early education programs, particularly those serving low-income families of color. We will need additional quality educators in order to accommodate the increase in children in early education programs.
It’s been a historic year for child care champions in California, but there is still much work to do! Children’s Council will continue to monitor the state budget process and provide opportunities for action to our advocacy network: Sign up for our budget and advocacy email alerts and engage with us on Facebook.