March 16, 2012
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson
Leads Opposition to Child Care Cuts
Parents, Teachers, Business Leaders Join Call to Protect Early Learning
LOS ANGELES—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson joined parents, teachers, and business leaders today in opposing further cuts to California's beleaguered child care system, and called for the state to renew its commitment to quality early learning programs.
The proposed state budget would cut more than $500 million from child care programs statewide, cutting services to as many as 62,000 low-income children. The new cuts would come on top of nearly $700 million in reductions to these programs over the last four years—a 42 percent reduction in state funding.
"For decades, California has been committed to a simple but powerful idea: Children deserve more than just a safe place to wait while their parents work. They also deserve a chance to learn and to grow. It pains me to say it, but California's budget crisis has put that commitment to our children in jeopardy," Torlakson said at a news conference at Proyecto Pastoral's Centro de Alegría (The Joy Center), one of many child care providers threatened by the proposed budget cuts.
Torlakson was joined at the news conference by Assembly member Mike Eng (D-Alhambra); David Rattray, vice president of the Greater Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce; Rafael Ramirez, director of the Proyecto Pastoral Early Education Centers; Kathleen Malaske-Samu of the Los Angeles County Policy Roundtable for Child Care; and by parents who depend on the program.
"Early child care is key to helping young children develop the linguistic, cognitive, social, and emotional building blocks necessary to succeed in school and in life," Assembly member Eng said. "I believe this is especially true for children that come from low-income and working-class families. While I understand that reductions are necessary to balance our $9.2 billion deficit, I believe that slashing our support for child care and development programs is unwise and will ultimately cost the state more in the long run."
"California is experiencing a looming budget deficit and is faced with difficult decisions," said Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President David Rattray. "It is instrumental that through this painful process, we carefully maintain our investment and infrastructure of early childhood education, which is the foundation of a skilled future workforce."
"At Centro de Alegría we provide our children with high-quality learning experiences that will prepare them academically, socially, and emotionally not just to excel in kindergarten but to succeed in life," said Rafael Ramírez, Director of Early Education Centers at Proyecto Pastoral. "The proposed budget cuts could shut out half of the children we currently serve, and have a ripple effect on the community who relies on the programs."
As misguided as the proposed cuts to services is a proposal to also reduce the quality of these programs by severing the tie between providers and the California Department of Education (CDE), which provides training, curriculum, guidance, and oversight of quality preschool and child care programs statewide.
"These proposals fly in the face of literally decades of research into the benefits of strong early childhood education programs," Torlakson said. "The consensus is clear: invest in kids early, and reap the rewards of a better-educated, more productive workforce, and a healthier state, or pay the price later—with more high school dropouts and more young people headed for trouble.
"For decades, our early learning and child care system has been a model for the nation. Teachers are well-trained. The curriculum is carefully developed. And long-standing partnerships exist between the Department of Education and local providers," Torlakson said. "The proposal to sever that connection and place oversight of these programs in the hands of overworked county welfare offices—with no background, no training, and no support—would be a huge step backward for California. Elmo and Barney are great TV characters, but they're no substitute for a dedicated teacher and a quality early learning and child care program."
Early Childhood Education Fact Sheet
March 16, 2012
504,000 children receive services annually; in any given month, 307,000 children benefit from CDE-funded programs:
- 144,588 in state-subsidized preschool.
- 40,666 in General Child Care.
- 57,405 in CalWORKs Stage 2.
- 30,329 in CalWORKs Stage 3.
- 34,728 in Alternative Payment Programs.
- 2,103 in Migrant Child Care.
- 161 Severely Handicapped.
The Governor's budget proposes to cut more than $500 million to early childhood programs:
- $113.7 million, reducing payments to child care providers.
- $361.6 million, tightening eligibility requirements by requiring families to meet federal TANF work participation requirements and reducing the income eligibility.
- $41.5 million in foregone cost-of-living adjustments
The proposed cuts would be in addition to $677 million in reductions to early learning programs since 2008, bringing the total cuts to these programs to $1.1 billion from a total budget of $2.6 billion, a reduction of 42 percent.
In addition, the Administration has proposed severing the connection between these programs and the state's nationally recognized system of training and support for early learning—increasing administrative costs while reducing the quality of programs.
Impacts:Estimates indicate that more than 62,000 children statewide will lose access to child care—many of them children who are likely to enter kindergarten with a readiness gap that is likely to be reflected later as an achievement gap.
- 38,000 Latino children (more than 60 percent of those affected).
- 10,000 African American children (16 percent of those affected).
- 45,000 affected children are dual language learners (73 percent of those affected).
- 20,000 are being raised in single parent families (32 percent of those affected).
These reductions would be in addition to the more than 100,000 children who already have lost care since 2008.
Proyecto Pastoral: Impact
Currently 36 children aged 18 to 36 months are enrolled in the Infant/Toddler Program. The proposed budget would reduce the program by half in 2013 and the entire program would disappear by 2014 once services are shifted to the county.The preschool program provides services to 48 children from 37-60 months (3-5 years old); the budget would shut out 24 students and shift the program from full day, full year, to half day and nine months in 2013. The preschool program would also disappear in 2014.
Decades of Research Prove the Value of Early Learning Programs
- The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University briefing on Early Childhood Program Effectiveness concludes that "effective services build supportive relationships and stimulating environments. To develop strong brain architecture, babies and toddlers require dependable interaction with nurturing adults and safe environments to explore."
- Early childhood programs generate benefits to society that far exceed program costs. Extensive analysis by economists has shown that education and development investments in the earliest years of life produce the greatest returns. Most of those returns, which can range from $3 to $16 per dollar invested, benefit the community through reduced crime, welfare, and educational remediation, as well as increased tax revenues on higher incomes for the participants of early childhood programs when they reach adulthood.
- According to a review by the UC Berkeley Labor Center, the early childhood education industry "benefits the California economy by promoting and facilitating parents' ability to participate in the paid workforce. Research has found that high-quality and reliable child care increases worker productivity and improves businesses' bottom line."
- The same report points to the long-term benefits for children in early childhood education programs: "Neuroscientists as well as social scientists now know that fundamental skills begin to develop in infancy and are well-established by the time children enter kindergarten. This includes cognitive skills like development of language, but also "character" skills such as attentiveness, motivation, self-control, and sociability (Heckman & Masterov 2007)."