Early Childhood Highlights in New State Budget

We’re moving in the right direction! The state budget signed by Governor Jerry Brown restores funding for early care and education and addresses access barriers for children and families. Advocates across the state are applauding the effort made by early childhood allies, Speaker Rendon, Senate Pro Tem de Len and the Women’s Caucus for showing that families with young children are a priority. Below are some of the highlights:

Both houses of the legislature reaffirmed the promise made last year for multi-year funding to expand child care opportunities and increase provider reimbursement rates. Both houses also supported new investments to update eligibility for state subsidized programs following increases to the minimum wage and to ensure that foster families have access to child care support.

Highlights on children in the budget include:

Eligibility Update for Subsidized Child Care: Updates the state medium income requirements and ensures 12 month eligibility for subsidized child care ($25 million)

Preschool Access: Funds a full year of and expands full-day State Preschool for nearly 3,000 more children ($32 million)  

Provider Reimbursement: Increases reimbursement rates for State Preschool, center-based preschool (voucher and license-exempt) providers ($252 million)

Bilingual Educators: Fund professional development of bilingual educators ($5 million)

Access for Exceptional Children: Allows children with exceptional needs who do not meet income requirements to take up part-day State Preschool slots if all income-eligible children are served

Child Care Access for Foster Care Parents:  Provides short-term assistance program that would offer vouchers for foster care parents to use to cover the cost of early care and education services.  ($15 million.) Also, an increase of $31 million will fund on-going training for child-care providers to recognize and respond to signs of physical, psychological and emotional trauma.

Proposition 56 ($2 tobacco tax) Funds 

The estimated $1.3 billion from new tobacco tax revenues passed under Prop 56 in November 2016 for Medi-Cal services will go to:

  • Increase payments for medical professionals in 2017-18: $546 million (of the projected $1.3 billion in Prop 56 revenues) would go to Medi-Cal providers as "supplemental payments."

  • Additional Funding for Medi-Cal: The remaining funds will pay for ordinary spending growth with the Medi-Cal program, which could total up to $711 million in 2017-18. 

  • Contingency Plan: Supplemental payments will be disbursed only if: 1) California receives “all necessary federal approvals” to receive Medicaid matching funds (the proposed $546 million supplemental payment would receive a $613 million federal Medicaid match); and 2) The federal government does not cut funding for Medi-Cal from current projected levels.  

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First 5 Celebrates School Readiness Champions

    

On Monday, May 15, early childhood champions from across the county convened at the Alameda County Office of Education to celebrate 7.5 years of joyful, play-based, culturally competent school readiness programming. With presentations by Superintendent of Schools Karen Monroe and Supervisor Wilma Chan, the celebration honored the outstanding work of public parks and libraries that made up the Neighborhood Partnership cohort: 

  • Alameda County Library
  • City of San Leandro Recreation and Human Services
  • Hayward Area Recreation & Park District
  • Livermore Area Recreation & Park District
  • Oakland Parks, Recreation and Youth Development
  • San Leandro Public Library

Early experiences build the foundations for success in school and life, and as our county school readiness assessment found, only 44% of Alameda County’s kids are ready to learn when they reach kindergarten. Preschool experiences strongly correlate with school readiness, but not all families are able, or want to, enroll in formal early learning programs. That’s why public institutions like parks and libraries are the perfect partners for reaching young children in underserved communities.

These community institutions participated in staff trainings on best practices in family engagement, early learning and child development. They’ve collaborated with school districts and other community based organizations. Most importantly, they’ve committed to providing early childhood programming in English and Spanish through parent-child playgroups, story times and parent education classes. Because of their outstanding work, children across Alameda County have access to free, high quality early learning opportunities.

First 5 Alameda County works with a wide range of partners who engage with families from birth to kindergarten.  Starting with prenatal programs and delivery hospitals, through pediatric clinics, home visitors, early care and education settings and community centers like the libraries and parks. “These trusted institutions provide families with crucial resources," says First 5 Alameda County CEO, Janis Burger,  "and we hope they will continue to prioritize early learning for years to come.” 

First 5 Alameda County's New Video

We’re thrilled to present a new short video that gives a sense of the work we do and why it’s so important. Check it out and share!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjX-wEZuX-8

While you’re at it, did you know that First 5 has a YouTube channel? With stories about our grantees and our strategies, these uplifting stories of families, their young children, and the providers that care for them, are the perfect antidote to the gloomy news these days.

Check it out! https://www.youtube.com/user/first5alameda