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State Analyst Says Nix Newsom's Early Childhood Plan

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Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to streamline the complicated web of agencies that support early childhood in California by creating a new state agency.

Not so fast, says the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

On Friday the nonpartisan agency tasked with advising the legislature released a report recommending lawmakers reject the proposal.

“That’s primarily because of the lack of detail we received to be able to analyze this proposal,” fiscal and policy analyst Sara Cortez told LAist. “It’s really unclear if the proposal addresses the problems.”

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California currently subsidizes childcare and preschool for an estimated 413,000 kids through more than a dozen programs and initiatives managed by three different state agencies.

Newsom's proposed Department of Early Childhood Development would consolidate many of those programs under one agency.

“We’re not saying that having a new department to administer these programs is particularly a bad idea, but what we’re saying is we would just need more information to be able to analyze if this is the best option for administering childcare and preschool programs,” Cortez said.

Here are some of the questions the Legislative Analyst's Office wants answered:

  • What is the underlying problem the Department of Early Childhood Development would address, and how does the new governance structure specifically address that problem?
  • How would the new department result in better services for children and families?
  • How would it eliminate duplication or overlap of government services?
  • What's it all going to cost?

STATE PRESCHOOL

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The LAO also recommended cutting the proposed number of new state preschool slots from 10,000 (at a cost of $32 million) to 1,000.

“We think the State Preschool program is unlikely to accommodate such a large increase, since more than half (about 5,400) of the additional 10,000 slots provided in 2019‑20 will go unused,” the report says.

One reason? Providers aren’t expanding fast enough.

The state doesn’t have data as to why, but the LAO’s report suggests a shortage of facilities and challenges recruiting and retaining staff are part of the problem.

LAist has reached out to the Governor's office for comment.

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