LOS ANGELES, June 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- In a significant victory for California's youngest children, their families and early education professionals, early childhood funding will increase by nearly $500 million by 2019-20 as part of the state budget agreement approved by the Legislature today. The additional funding will add almost 9,000 new full-day slots to the California State Preschool Program and increase reimbursement rates for providers to help address increases to the state's minimum wage.
"These investments are important to improve access and affordability for California families seeking to prepare their children for success in school and later in life," said Kim Belshé, Executive Director of First 5 LA, a leading public grantmaker and early childhood advocate. "We want to thank Governor Brown, Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leon and the Budget Conference Committee for making young children a priority."
"We also particularly want to thank members of the Legislative Women's Caucus who have made early childhood issues a centerpiece of their agenda and have committed to fight for more investments and for making improvements to these programs so they best serve the needs of children and their families," Belshé added. "California still has not returned to the level of investments in children it was making before the recession. Nonetheless, this budget increase is certainly a step in the right direction. There are thousands more children who would benefit from a high-quality early education and the early childhood workforce deserves to receive the wages and professional development equal to their education and training."
Speaker Rendon also has announced plans to form a Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Care and Education. The commission will develop a plan to improve services for children birth to age 3 and explore how the state can provide preschool for all 4-year-olds.
"We are encouraged by our leaders' desire to find ways to improve the programs that serve California's youngest children and their families," Belshé said. "We look forward to playing a role in developing new ideas and innovative approaches to help hard-working families and ensure our most disadvantaged children are given the chance to succeed."
With the Legislature's approval of the budget, the Governor has until June 29 to sign the budget bill into law.
ABOUT FIRST 5 LA
First 5 LA is a leading early childhood advocate organization created by California voters to invest Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues in Los Angeles County. In partnership with others, First 5 LA strengthens families, communities, and systems of services and supports so that all children in L.A. County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. Please visit www.first5la.org for more information.
SOURCE First 5 LA