California's Plan to Create Affordable Child Care
California For All Kids has finally revealed its Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: Making California for All Kids.
Kids Konnect Preschools has previously spoken about the child care crisis in the US and the Golden State. The cost of child care continues to rise, and most families now spend 20% of their income on child care. The master plan presents a way forward for early learning and care in California, and we’re excited that families will be able to choose their preferred type of care.
However, we do have some concerns about the plan, and how it will work alongside President-Elect Joe Biden’s nationwide child care initiatives. Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated public funds and child care providers received no extra public funding. Kids Konnect is lucky that our families have managed to stay with us, and we are incredibly grateful that we can continue to serve our communities.
So, what is the plan and why is it needed?
The Child Care Crisis in California
Currently, much child care is out of reach for low income families. Approximately, half of California’s children from birth to aged 3 are in home-based care, and only 1 in 3 children are eligible for publicly funded programs. This puts more stress on families as parents won’t be able to work and some have to leave jobs to raise their children.
There is also a disproportionate amount of children of colour in poverty, unable to access child care.
Tackling the Child Care Emergency
Now the Master Plan has been published, we can realistically understand what the next decade of child care in California will look like, and what it means for parents.
Governor Newsom commissioned California For All Kids to draft a plan that delivers universal child care. The plan focuses on four key areas: increasing access for birth through aged 3 programs, increasing the competency and abilities of child care providers, increasing funding for providers and families, and improving how families experience the system with data.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the plan:
- Increase Paid Family Leave (PFL) to better support families who earn under 70% of the state average and increase the duration of PFL
- Support small businesses with training and temporary workers when a member of their team takes PFL
- Phase-in universal preschool for all 4-year-olds
- Phase-in income-eligible preschool for 3-year-olds
- Develop career pathways and incentivize care providers to increase their competency
- Require specialized training and development for care providers to look after dual language children and children with disabilities
- Legislate that 10% of a provider’s childcare slots be reserved for children with disabilities
- Create a tiered reimbursement rate structure for providers/programs receiving subsidiaries
- Streamline public funding eligibility for families and prioritize those in need
- Provide extended periods of childcare for families in high-risk groups
What the Master Plan Means for Bay Area Families?
Theoretically, much like President-Elect Biden’s plan, the California For All Kids plan will help vulnerable families by enabling parents to go back to work, and making the system fairer and more equitable for low-income families. It will also help improve daycare and preschool programs’ education standards as providers will have to regularly prove they’re competent.
Kids Konnect Concerns
At Kids Konnect, we are delighted California has developed a framework that aims to help many families in the Bay Area re-enter the workforce and give every child access to vital early learning development.
However, we do have some concerns.
Mainly, questions remain about the plan’s costs, the funding’s sources and how the government will legislate and roll out the initiatives. We’re also concerned that the plan won’t be able to fulfill its promise to pay early learning teachers a living wage, even after the government subsidies career pathways and teacher training.
Kids Konnect believes the Master Plan is a promising step forward, and we will wait for the government to iron out the finer details. Whatever happens, we will champion reducing the financial burden on families while maintaining a quality early learning program at our daycare centers and preschools.
If you want to read the full plan, you can download it here