California is making unprecedented investments in young children. EdSource is tracking 27 early childhood bills introduced in the Legislature this session that focus on a host of issues, from expanding paid family leave to improving access to preschool. This list will be updated as the bills make their way through the Legislature. Bills that have stalled are shaded gray. Last updated on July 11, 2019.
Access to child care, preschool and kindergarten
Pre-K for all (AB 123)
What it would do: AB 123 would add more subsidized preschool slots for all low-income 3-year-olds and to all 4-year-olds, regardless of income, in school neighborhoods where at least 70 percent of students qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch. The bill would also increase state preschool reimbursement rates and require head preschool teachers to earn a bachelor’s degree by July 1, 2028, with an emphasis in early childhood.
Why it’s important: There are not enough subsidized preschool slots for all low-income children. Only about 1/5 of eligible 3- and 4-year-olds are currently enrolled in a full-day state-subsidized program. Gov. Gavin Newsom campaigned on a promise to eventually offer preschool to all 4-year-olds, regardless of income.Bill status: The portion of this bill expanding preschool eligibility to all 4 year-olds who live in high-poverty neighborhoods was signed into law in the 2019-20 budget. The rest of the bill is on hold and expected to be revised and heard in 2020.
Stage 1 CalWORKS (SB 321)
What it would do: SB 321 would allow families who are just beginning to receive cash aid through CalWORKS to receive full-time subsidized child care for a full year.
Why it’s important:As reported by EdSource, when families are just beginning the CalWORKS program, they have to apply for an authorization for child care for each workshop, interview or orientation they have to attend.Bill status: Identical legislation signed into law in the 2019-20 budget.
Funding for expanded TK (SB 443)
What it would do: SB 443 would allow districts to get funding from average daily attendance (ADA) for more 4-year-olds attending transitional kindergarten. Districts would get funding for transitional kindergartners who turn 5 between Dec. 2 and the end of the school year. Currently, districts only get ADA funding for transitional kindergartners who turn 5 between Sep. 2 and Dec. 2. They can admit 4-year-olds who turn 5 before the end of the school year, but they cannot get funding for those 4-year-olds until they turn 5.
Why it’s important:Many 4-year-olds do not currently attend preschool and enter kindergarten less prepared than their peers. This bill would encourage school districts to expand transitional kindergarten to more 4-year-olds who turn 5 between Dec. 2 and the end of the school year.Bill status: Held in suspense by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Preschool and TK for special needs children (SB 217)
What it would do: SB 217 would provide school districts with more funding for preschool children with special needs and would allow 4-year-olds with special needs to enroll in transitional kindergarten, as long as they turn 5 before the school year ends. Currently, school districts can only enroll 4-year-olds who turn 5 between Sep. 2 and Dec. 2 in TK. They can also enroll 4-year-olds who will turn 5 after Dec. 2 and before the end of the school year, but they cannot receive Average Daily Attendance funding for those children until they turn 5.
Why it’s important: All school districts are required to provide preschool to 3- and 4-year-olds with disabilities, but federal funding has declined. Transitional kindergarten, an extra year of kindergarten, is currently only available in all school districts to 4-year-olds who were born between Sep. 2 and Dec. 2.Bill status: The portion of this bill establishing grants for school districts for preschool children with special needs is included in the 2019-20 budget. The rest of the bill, expanding TK, was not made law.
Full-day kindergarten (AB 197)
What it would do: AB 197 would require all schools offering kindergarten to offer at least one full-day kindergarten class. About 19 percent of school districts do not yet offer full-day kindergarten, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. The bill would require the state to reimburse districts for necessary costs. State law currently provides districts the same per-student funding rate for part-day and full-day programs.
Why it’s important: Advocates say it’s important that all students are able to attend full-day kindergarten, because it gives them more minutes of teaching and learning each day. Gov. Gavin Newsom also proposed additional funding for schools to build full-day kindergarten classrooms. As EdSource reported, however, most schools in low-income communities already offer full-day kindergarten, and those that only offer part-day kindergarten are mostly located in higher-income communities.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate..
Child care for infants and toddlers (AB 167)
What it would do: AB 167 would establish a grant program worth $4,000 annually per child for child care centers and family child care homes that provide full-day, full-year child care for children 0-3 years old and agree to meet federal Head Start performance standards.
Why it’s important: There is more need for child care for infants and toddlers under 3 years old than any other age group. In addition, child care for this age group is more expensive than preschool for older children. The median annual cost statewide for an infant under 2 in a child care center is $15,300. Only 1 in 9 low-income infants and toddlers who are eligible for subsidized child care are enrolled, according to the California Budget and Policy Center.Bill status: Held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Child care vouchers (AB 194)
What it would do: AB 194 would allocate $1 billion toward more subsidized child care for low-income children.
Why it’s important:There is a huge need for more subsidized child care in California. According to the California Budget and Policy Center, about 745,000 eligible children aged 0-5 are not enrolled in a full-day subsidized program. The 2019-20 budget currently includes $130.5 million for subsidized child care.Bill status: Held by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Paid family leave
Paid family leave (AB 196)
What it would do: AB 196 would increase the pay for workers who take paid family leave to care for a newborn or ill family member, to 100 percent of their wages. Currently, the pay is 60 to 70 percent, depending on income.
Why it’s important: Research shows paid leave helps reduce maternal stress and has been found to increase breastfeeding rates and improve children’s health. As EdSource reported, low-income parents are the least likely to take advantage of paid parental leave benefits, partly because they often can’t afford to lose any of their income.
Note: The 2019-20 budget requires the governor to consider increasing family leave reimbursement to 90 percent of wages for low-income workers.Bill status: Passed the Assembly. Stalled in the Senate. Could return in 2020.
Translated applications (AB 406)
What it would do: AB 406 would require the application for paid family leave benefits to be translated into all languages other than English spoken by a substantial number of applicants, and would go into effect Jan. 1, 2025, to coincide with a new application system.
Why it’s important: Currently the paid family leave application is only available in English, though some forms and brochures are available in other languages. The author hopes that making the application available in other languages will help Californians who speak another language at home obtain access to paid family leave.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Paid pregnancy leave for teachers (AB 500)
What it would do: AB 500 would require school districts, charter schools and community colleges to provide at least six weeks off with full pay for teachers or faculty members who cannot work because of pregnancy, miscarriage or childbirth.
Why it’s important: Schools’ pregnancy disability and paid family leave policies vary by district, but teachers often have to first use their vacation and sick leave before receiving the pay left over after schools pay for a substitute for a period of up to five months. The author says that the bill would help schools recruit and retain teachers. School and community college administrators oppose the bill because of the cost for school districts.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Job protection (SB 135)
What it would do: SB 135 would prohibit employers with five or more employees from refusing to grant paid family leave or firing their employees during paid family leave, as long as they have worked at least 180 days there.
Why it’s important: Low-income parents are the least likely to take advantage of paid parental leave benefits, partly because if they work for a small business with fewer than 20 employees, they are not protected by state or federal law from being fired while they are on paid family leave. The bill is supported by several nonprofit organizations that advocate for children and parents, and opposed by a host of business associations who say it would overwhelm small employers.Bill status: Placed on hold by author. Could return in 2020.
Facilities bonds (AB 48)
What it would do: AB 48 would put two bond measures on the ballot, in March 2020 and November 2022, to allocate state funds for the replacement of school buildings that are at least 75 years old, for lead testing and repair, and for building and modernizing preschools run by school districts.
Why it’s important: One of the biggest barriers to providing more subsidized care in California is the lack of classrooms and buildings, as reported by EdSource. According to the Learning Policy Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization in Palo Alto, some counties have had to turn away state funding for subsidized care because they did not have the facilities to house new programs.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Facilities grants (AB 452)
What it would do: AB 452 would change the revolving loan fund for building or re-habilitating child care and preschool facilities into a grant fund. The fund could be used either to build new child care centers or to renovate, repair or bring up to code existing child care centers or family child care homes.
Why it’s important: One of the biggest barriers to providing more subsidized care in California is the lack of classrooms and buildings, as reported by EdSource. Many nonprofit child care providers and school districts cannot afford to pay back loans and report having difficulty finding adequate sites to open up new centers. Family child care providers often cannot afford the fees to bring their sites up to code if they wish to expand.Bill status: Similar language was signed into law in the 2019-20 budget.
Family child care homes (SB 234)
What it would do: SB 234 would prohibit cities and counties from requiring business licenses or from charging taxes or permit fees for large child care homes. Currently, only small child care homes that serve up to six children under 6 years old are exempted from the fees and permits. The cost of these fees varies from city to city, but in some places can add up to several thousand dollars.
Why it’s important: One of the biggest barriers to providing more subsidized care in California is the lack of space. Family child care homes serve a large portion of California’s children. In order to expand to serve more children, large family child care homes in some cities have to apply for zoning permits, in addition to the usual licensing and fire safety requirements. The cost of those permits is prohibitive for many providers.Bill status: Passed the Senate and currently in the Assembly.
Local planning councils (AB 124)
What it would do: AB 124 would require local planning councils to provide information to cities and counties regarding facility needs for early childhood education in their jurisdictions. Originally, the bill would have established a $500 million bond measure for preschool construction.
Why it’s important: One of the biggest barriers to providing more subsidized care in California is the lack of space. Advancement Project California recommends requiring cities and counties to include early childhood education in their land-use plans, just as they have to for traffic circulation and housing.Bill status: Held in suspense by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Child care providers
Reimbursement rate reform (SB 174)
What it would do: SB 174 would increase reimbursement rates for child care and preschool programs that enroll low-income children, based on regional cost. It would also establish a pilot program to allow programs that improve their quality to receive higher reimbursements.
Why it’s important: More than half of California’s child care workforce have such low wages that they receive public assistance. Those low wages and challenging working conditions drive high turnover. At the same time there is a need for educators who have more specialized preparation in child development and early learning. Early education experts have advocated for increasing reimbursement rates as a way to increase educator wages.Bill status: Passed the Senate and currently in the Assembly.
Reimbursement rate reform (AB 125)
What it would do: AB 125 would assign higher reimbursement rates to subsidized child care programs with higher quality standards — for example, higher education level of preschool teachers, lower teacher-to-student ratio, and smaller classroom size — and tie the rates to the regional cost of providing care. Currently, only programs that provide subsidized care through Alternative Payment Plan vouchers have reimbursement rates tied to regional market rates. Other subsidized child care programs are not reimbursed based on regional cost.
Why it’s important: More than half of California’s child care workforce have such low wages that they receive public assistance. Those low wages and challenging working conditions have driven high turnover. At the same time there is a need for educators who have more specialized preparation in child development and early learning. Early education experts have advocated for increasing reimbursement rates as a way to increase educator wages.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Professional development (AB 324)
What it would do: AB 324 would provide professional development stipends to child care providers who work in centers and homes that receive state subsidies for low-income children. The stipends would allow providers to attend classes or trainings to attain a degree or additional early childhood development units.
Why it’s important: California ranks behind many other states on quality of early education programs, and specialized preparation for early education workers is linked to children’s academic achievement and higher-quality classrooms. This bill would help increase the typically low wages that have driven high turnover of early education workers.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Collective bargaining (AB 378)
What it would do: AB 378 would allow family child care providers who care for children in their own homes to form and join unions to collectively bargain for child care subsidies from the state.
Why it’s important: More than half of California’s child care workforce have such low wages that they receive public assistance. Those low wages and challenging working conditions have driven high turnover. The Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission recommends allowing providers who receive subsidies to care for low-income children to collectively bargain for increased reimbursement rates.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Child care meals (AB 842)
What it would do: AB 842 would repeal a policy that reimburses family child care homes for meals served to low-income children at 75%. It would also require every part-day state preschool program to provide at least one meal per day to each child enrolled, and every full-day program to provide two meals or one meal and two snacks. Currently, part-day preschool programs can serve either a meal or a snack, and full-day programs can serve one meal and one snack or two meals.
Why it’s important: This bill aims to help child care providers provide healthy food for the children they care for. According to California Food Policy Advocates, more than 1.7 million fewer meals were served in child care centers in 2016-17 compared to 2010-11, the year before cuts to meal reimbursements.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
CSU early care pilot program (AB 1154)
What it would do: AB 1154 would add an early care and education major as a pilot program at four campuses to allow students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a teaching credential in child development within 4 years.
Why it’s important: There is a shortage of early childhood education providers with specialized preparation, which has been linked to children’s academic achievement and higher-quality classrooms.Bill status: Author put on hold. Could return in 2020.
Data and administration
Early childhood education branch (AB 6)
What it would do: AB 6 would establish an Early Childhood Education Branch within the California Department of Education to “ensure a holistic implementation of early childhood education programs and universal preschool” and coordinate with the Department of Social Services and the California Health and Human Services Agency.
Why it’s important: There are so many different early education programs in the state, administered by different state agencies, that it can be confusing and difficult for families and child care providers to navigate. Advocates have pushed for one state-level governing body, a concept other states have already implemented to improve efficiency.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Strategic planning councils (AB 1001)
What it would do: AB 1001 would change the name of local child care councils to “strategic planning councils” and require them to regularly submit plans to their counties addressing facility needs, workforce needs, family access, and quality.
Why it’s important: Local child care planning councils were established in 1997 to bring together stakeholders to identify needs and priorities. Due to a lack of funding, they often don’t have the capacity to fully assess and plan for child care needs. One of the recommendations of the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission was that each county should have a local coordinating body and that the state should adequately support these bodies, in part to identify the areas with the most need.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Pupil identifiers (AB 776)
What it would do: AB 776 would require that pupil identifiers be given to students who attend federally or state-funded child care programs operated by providers other than school districts, so that the data on those students can be added and tracked as they move on to elementary and high school.
Why it’s important: Collecting and analyzing data is one of the key components used by other states to successfully expand and improve early education programs, and to convince legislatures that programs are working and they should continue to fund them.Bill status: Passed the Assembly and currently in the Senate.
Corporate taxes (SB 37)
What it would do: SB 37 would increase the state income tax rate on financial institutions and corporations with net incomes of more than $10 million. The revenue would offset the fiscal impact of any child tax credit and would support expanding or improving the quality of early childhood programs and other educational programs.
Why it’s important: There’s a need for more funding in order to expand and improve early childhood education programs.Bill status: Stalled in the Senate. Could return in 2020.
Learning readiness measures (AB 1256)
What it would do: AB 1256 would require the superintendent of public instruction to give recommendations to the Legislature and the governor on best practices for measuring learning readiness and how to use those measures to influence policy for young children.
Why it’s important: The author wrote, “California does not have a clear definition of what makes pupils ‘learning ready.’ Without this definition, the impact of California’s early learning programs on learning readiness is unknown.”Bill status: Author put on hold. Could return in 2020.
Child savings accounts (AB 15)
What it would do: AB 15 would establish college savings accounts for every child born a California resident on or after Jan. 1, 2020 and would require the state to deposit an amount of at least $25 in each one. The board could choose to add more funds for low-income children and/or children who have good school attendance. The funds could be used for tuition, room and board, or required fees at a college or university. If not used, the funds would be returned to the state to be used for other savings accounts.
Why it’s important: According to the Campaign for College Opportunity, the total cost of attending college in California has more than doubled in the past 15 years. The average student loan debt for students who graduated from public and private nonprofit 4-year institutions in California in 2017 was $22,785, according to the Institute for College Access and Success. The 2019 budget bill also includes $50 million for children’s savings accounts for college.Bill status: Similar language signed into law in the 2019-20 budget.