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California Budget Spares Cuts To Early Childhood Programs

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California's budget for the next fiscal year preserves many existing child care programs, but falls short of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s aspirations to extend those services to thousands of new children.

Child care providers who serve low-income families were spared a 10% cut in their rates, proposed to help offset the state’s projected $54 billion budget deficit.

“That's a big win because providers have been out. They stayed open,” said Cristina Alvarado, executive director of Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles. “They have been providing the services.”

In mid-April more than half of licensed L.A. preschools and child care centers had closed, but most home providers remained open.

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The state budget also includes:

  • Funding through the end of September for essential workers who received subsidized child care during the pandemic. Newsom previously set aside $50 million for these workers.
  • An outline of how to spend $350 million in federal aid for child care. About 40% of the money will reimburse the state for coronavirus-related expenses.
  • $2.3 million to transfer child care programs to the state’s Department of Social Services. The creation of a new state agency to oversee child care programs was shelved.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District is voting on a budget that also maintains the early childhood programs that enrolled almost 22,000 kids last school year.

There’s about $100 million for a “primary promise” initiative, announced by Superintendent Austin Beutner on April 20, “to make sure every child has a foundation in literacy, math skills, and critical thinking before they finish elementary school.”

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