California Children’s Report Card: Little Progress, Some Momentum, and a Long Way to Go


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Every year Children Now, the not-for-profit organization that advocates for California’s children, publishes a comprehensive report card evaluating California’s investments in the supports and services needed for all kids to reach their full potential. The report grades 30 different facets of child well-being, under the categories of Health, Education, Family Supports, Child Welfare, Adolescents & Transition Age Youth. 

This year’s report, released on January 28th, notes that when it comes to educating our youngest (0-5) Californians, the results are mixed.

Examples from the 2020 Report

Infant and Toddler Care earned just a D+, the same grade it earned in 2018.

More than 1.5 million families with infants and toddlers live in California, and most of them qualify for child care assistance.  Yet, the state has failed to ensure sufficient subsidies and spaces for the vast majority of income-eligible children– only 14% have access, which means that families struggle to find affordable, stable, quality child care.” (Children Now 2020 Report Card, p. 24)

Preschool & Transitional Kindergarten received a B grade.

While California has shown increased commitment to early learning by expanding investments in its State Preschool Program and establishing transitional kindergarten, states across the nation are making faster progress expanding access and investing in quality improvement efforts.  Specifically, the State Preschool Program lacks sufficient funding to serve all 3- and 4-year-olds, and transitional kindergarten is not designed to serve all 4-year-olds nor does it target the most vulnerable kids.” (Children Now 2020 Report Card, p. 26)

Early Learning Workforce Compensation & Training received a grade of C-, unchanged since 2018.

(Yet) the educational requirements for staff remain low even though the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively support young children are complex.  In addition, due in part to low reimbursement rates, poor compensation is a significant problem, with 58% of the ECE workforce relying on public assistance to make ends meet. This results in high staff turnover, and leaves professionals without clear pathways to further their education, develop their skills, and advance to higher-paid positions.” (Children Now 2020 Report Card, p. 28)

Click here to see the 2020 California Children’s Report Card, or to read Children Now’s excellent issue briefs. 

Reason for Optimism in the Early Learning Field

The good news is that early learning issues have moved up to the top of the priority list for California’s governor and many of its legislators. See the articles below for more information. 

ECE Advocates Urged to Continue Pressing for Funding Increases  

Gov. Newsom Signs SB 234, the “Keeping Kids Close to Home Act”  

Governor’s Budget Proposal Emphasizes Early Childhood Investment  

Please Let Your Voice Be Heard!

ECE is a key issue in this year’s race for state senate in San Mateo County. Please be sure to vote on March 3rd!  Click here for San Mateo County voter information.

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