Late Monday night the California Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown reached agreement on the state budget. As California showed surpluses for the first time in years, the Legislature’s proposals included restoring $257 million in prior cuts to early learning and child care. That $257 million investment was drastically scaled back in the final budget, meaning some children will have access to preschool and high quality child care, while many more of California’s children will be left out.
Raising California Together, an emerging coalition of diverse advocates for early childhood care and education, expressed dismay at the failure to fully restore funding for California’s children and families:
“California has to do better. The budget deal that the Legislature and Governor Brown have agreed to does not include anywhere near sufficient funding to promote affordable early childhood care and education for California’s children. Our kids can’t afford the status quo anymore, as a pre-school teacher I see first hand the devastating impacts that years of cuts have had on our system of early learning and child care,” said Karen Cisneros a pre-school teacher in Southern California. “That’s why we delivered a joint letter signed by 55 organizations, leaders and individuals supporting restoring $257 million to early childhood care and learning in the annual budget as a much-needed investment in our children’s education and California’s economy.”
“Eliminating more than half of the $257 million the Assembly sought to re-invest in early childhood care and education means thousands children are losing out on access to care and early learning that are crucial to a child’s development,” said Maria Elena Meraz, Executive Director of the Parent Institute for Quality Education. “California has massive achievement gaps in its K-12 system, the key to leveling the playing field for all of California’s children is to invest in the early childhood care we know is so critical to child development and long term academic success. We know that the years from zero to five are the most important in our children’s life, and if children start behind, they stay behind. We call on Governor Brown and the Legislature to restore these cuts in the final version of the state budget. Tens of thousands of children are counting on our elected officials doing the right thing.”
Raising California Together is an emerging alliance of child care providers, parents, clergy, community groups, progressive and civil rights organizations, elected leaders and employers uniting to press for comprehensive reform of our broken system of early learning and child care.