Building Strong Foundations
Early childhood experiences have important lifelong impacts. That's why parents, educators, and state leaders strive to create educational environments where children can learn and thrive. As Assembly Budget Chair, I'm proud our latest state budget helps build these strong foundations, getting kids ready to excel in school and pursue their dreams.
After a hard-fought process to secure funding to stabilize the subsidized child care industry, which many lower income families rely on, we are taking the first steps to mitigate a crisis caused by workers leaving and facilities shuttering. Pending union agreement, the latest state budget includes a 20 percent wage increase over two years for child care providers in all state-supported child care programs. Many of these caregivers are immigrant women of color and have not seen a pay raise since 2016. There's also funding for healthcare benefits and for the creation of the nation's first retirement plan for child care providers. We hope this is enough to keep child care doors open and prevent more closures, while we look for long-term solutions. Child care is essential to keeping our economy strong because it allows parents to go to work.
The 2023-24 budget plan is likewise a win for families who rely on these providers. A recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found California ranks in the Top Ten when it comes to child care costs, ranging from $11,000 to $13,000 a year. Beginning October 1st, households earning below 75 percent of the state's median income will pay no fee for subsidized child care, while fees will be capped at one percent of the family's income, for those making above 75 percent of the state's median income. Lower or no co-pays help parents meet other expenses.
The state is also on track to achieve Universal Transitional Kindergarten (TK) by 2025, phasing in eligibility. Please contact your local school district for more information on how or when to enroll your four-year-old.
My hope is these investments will put thousands of California kids on a path to bright futures, ready for the academic road ahead.