Response to 2016 CA Budget RE: Support of Women's Caucus $800 Million Proposal
Advancement Project, in collaboration with partners from across the state, sent a letter on April 4, 2016 to The Honorable Marty Block, Chair of the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Sub. 1 on Education, The Honorable Kevin McCarty, Chair, Assembly Budget Sub. 2 on Education Finance, The Honorable Holly Mitchell, Chair, Senate Budget Sub. 3 on Health & Human Services, and The Honorable Tony Thurmond, Chair, Assembly Budget Sub. 1 on Health & Human Services, asking that they “Invest in Quality Early Education Funding in the 2016-2017 Budget”.
The letter stated that, in order to strengthen the deteriorating foundation of our state’s early learning system for today and tomorrow, the Coalition highly encourages the California Legislature to prioritize significant investments in several fundamentally linked areas: affordability, access, quality, and infrastructure.
In it, we applaud the call of the Legislative Women’s Caucus for a down payment of $800 million in the 2016-2017 budget to stabilize the system and move toward ensuring that all working families have access to quality, affordable early care and education opportunities.
It is essential to prioritize our youngest children and their families in this year’s state budget and urge our Legislative partners to address the long-term challenges facing the early learning system.
Governor’s Early Education Block Grant Proposal
On January 7th, Governor Jerry Brown debuted his January budget proposal for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Below is the text of a letter sent to Governor Brown on February 18, 2016 in response to the proposal about the Early Education Block Grant.
Dear Governor Brown:
Thank you for the opportunity to share our input on the Early Education Block Grant (EEBG) through the stakeholder process. While we appreciate the Administration’s focus on early learning, particularly in terms of prioritizing children from low-income families, dual-language learners and children with exceptional needs, we are writing to express our concerns about the creation of EEBG, as proposed. We note that the EEBG is described as being modeled after the successful K-12 Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and we urge that the Administration to follow that model’s appropriate recognition that sweeping system changes require significant additional investments and a meaningful stakeholder process that requires more than a few months to be fully vetted.
We believe that what the Administration has proposed is significant, and in order for EEBG proposal to be a viable option, it needs to be substantially changed. Therefore, we urge the Administration to consider the following recommendations as we move forward:
- Remove Transitional Kindergarten from the EEBG proposal: The Administration’s proposal to eliminate average daily attendance (ADA) funding entitlements for children in transitional kindergarten (TK) is problematic and alarming. The proposal artificially caps funding for transitional kindergarten students based on existing program sizes, reduces the stability of funding for school districts, limits the ability of schools districts to expand early learning services to children who need them, and eliminates access to K-12 Proposition 98 funding for a population that is—and historically has been—entitled to it even before the creation of TK. TK is an integral part of the public education system and we urge that it stays that way.
- Any policy change to early care and education should be accompanied by significant additional funds provided by the state: It is commendable to model the EEBG after LCFF, but it is important to note that the successful K-12 LCFF reform was accompanied by a large influx of new investment, which is absent from this proposal. Increasing access to quality early care and education (ECE) programs must be accompanied by additional funding, so we are not robbing one set of children who are currently in the system to pay for another set of children. The state should strive for more access to ECE, not less.
- Weight EEBG funding based on student need: We are in full support of the EEBG’s focus on low-income and at-risk children but believe that by adhering to the LCFF model more closely, the block grant could do more to support these children and the programs they attend. The first step towards prioritizing the needs of vulnerable early learners is actually ensuring that ADA is retained for TK students. The proposal should have a base grant for all children and should include supplemental and concentration grants based on student needs to ensure they receive equitable educational opportunities.
- Include and prioritize quality improvement funds within the block grant: In order to have the largest impact on young children, early learning experiences need to be of high quality. It is necessary to include in the block grant funds that are set aside for quality investments and improvements so that we can build and increase quality as we construct the system.
- EEBG should include a comprehensive 0-to-5 approach: If the Administration is serious about making significant policy changes to the ECE system, then we urge the Administration to plan for intentional investments in all of our youngest learners, including infant and toddlers.
- Ensure that resources and coordination are prioritized to support the mixed delivery ECE system in California: Our state’s early learning system is based on a mixed delivery model, with services being delivered by many different types of providers, but the EEBG proposal provides funds only to local education agencies (LEAs). Intentional focus on supports for and coordination with non-LEA providers should be an important part of the stakeholder process discussions. We should encourage continued implementation of the mixed delivery model that benefits many children and their families across the state.
Early care and education is critical to the current and long-term economic and educational viability of our state. Study after study has shown that high-quality early learning programs are among the best investments we can make to impact child outcomes and increase economic sustainability for families. Advancement Project looks forward to working with you to make quality early care and education a reality for all children who currently do not have access to it.
Kim Pattillo Brownson
Managing Director of Policy and Advocacy
Khydeeja Alam Javid
Manager of Governmental Relations
Bookmark this page as we intend to expand our analysis and response as the budget process continues.