California Budget Makes Key Investments in Early Education

The record high budget reflects a state economy that has recovered from the pandemic faster than anticipated
Blog Post
July 11, 2022

On June 30, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $308 billion budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year that began on July 1—a record high budget that reflects a state economy that has recovered from the pandemic faster than anticipated. The budget includes a $9 billion, or 13 percent, increase to the local control school funding formula, which determines funding levels for school districts and is districts’ single largest source of state money. It also includes substantial investments in child care, pre-K, and transitional kindergarten (TK). A full budget summary is available here. Below I break down notable investments in the budget that impact young children from birth to third grade.

K-3rd grade

The budget allocates $3 billion to the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program to allow elementary schools to add three hours of after-school programming along with six weeks of summer enrichment programs for students who enroll. Districts will be required to offer these expanded learning opportunities to all low-income students, English learners, and students in foster care beginning in 2023-24. Considering the negative impact of the pandemic on students’ academic achievement, it is vital that districts provide students with extended time during the school day and summer to engage in hands-on learning experiences.

On a related note, one of the big-ticket education items in the budget is a $7.9 billion allocation to create a Learning Recovery Emergency Fund to assist students in addressing learning loss caused by the pandemic. Districts have five years to use these funds to combat COVID-related learning loss through programs such as increased instructional time, tutoring, and mental health services.

Other notable budget investments impacting K-3rd grade include $250 million available over five years to train and pay for literacy coaches in high-poverty elementary schools as well as $35 million specifically set aside to provide math professional development with an emphasis on parent engagement for K-3rd grade.

Transitional Kindergarten (TK)

The 2022-23 fiscal year is significant because it marks the first year of expanded eligibility for transitional kindergarten (TK). Originally created in 2010 for four-year-olds who just missed the kindergarten eligibility cutoff of September 1, TK will expand over the next several years until it is available to all four-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year.

The budget provides just under $1 billion to support this expanded eligibility and add an additional staff member to each TK classroom to reduce student-to-adult ratios. According to a recent report from the Learning Policy Institute, more than 300,000 children will enroll in TK in 2025-26, a fourfold increase from 2019-20. Of course, this influx of additional TK students translates to a need for more TK teachers: the report estimates that districts will need to hire between 12,000 and 15,000 additional lead teachers and between 16,000 and 20,000 assistant teachers by 2025-26. As we’ve written previously, the state’s current early educators who teach in child care centers and family child care homes are well-equipped to meet this demand, but the state’s antiquated credentialing system remains a real barrier. The budget will increase the pipeline of TK teachers by allowing for the issuance of one-year emergency specialist teaching permits in early childhood education for individuals who meet certain education requirements. On a related note, the state’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing recently agreed to create a new teaching credential for pre-K through third grade that could provide more relevant preparation for TK teachers and will hopefully be more accessible for the state’s current early educators.

California State Preschool Program (CSPP)

The California State Preschool Program (CSPP) provides part- and full-day pre-K for approximately 78,000 three- and four-year-olds from lower-income families throughout the state. The budget includes over $21 million to temporarily waive family fees for the 2022-23 fiscal year for children participating in CSPP. It also expands access to the program from families at 85 percent of the state median income (SMI) to families at 100 percent of SMI. Additionally, the budget allows CSPP contractors to receive their full share of funding regardless of student attendance, ensuring more predictable and stable funding for providers. The budget also includes funds to help CSPP serve an increasing percentage of students with disabilities. Specifically, funds are provided to assist CSPP in slowly ramping up to serve at least 10 percent students with disabilities by July 2024 in addition to providing additional support services for dual language learners.

Child Care

The budget also makes investments in the state’s child care infrastructure. It allocates over $100 million of federal funds for the renovation and repair of child care facilities. Additionally, the budget temporarily extends family fee waivers for 2022-23 fiscal year for state-subsidized child care and provides funds to increase child care access to reach a goal of serving 200,000 more children by 2025-26.

For a comprehensive rundown of the funding levels including in the budget for early learning and care programs, check out this summary from Early Edge California.

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on what’s new in Education Policy!

Related Topics
Birth Through Third Grade Learning