Status Report on Implementation of County Centralized Eligibility Lists (CEL) - 2006
The 2006-07 State Budget (Assembly Bill 1801, Chapter 47, Item 6110-196-0001, Provision 13) allocated $7.9 million for county Centralized Eligibility Lists (CEL) and requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to provide a status report on “implementing eligibility lists in each county, which shall include, but is not limited to, the cost of implementation and operation of the eligibility list in each county, and number of children and families on the list for each county.”
In response to the legislative mandate to implement a CEL in each California county, the CDE Early Education and Support Division (EESD) established a new contract type with specific program requirements. All county CELs were required to be operational by July 1, 2006, and to submit CEL data for the third quarter of 2006 by mid-October 2006.
The EESD formed a work group to help resolve implementation and administration issues. The EESD staff conducted meetings at statewide conferences to provide guidance on the fundamentals of program requirements. Without funding for additional staff for management and oversight, the CEL project has been a significant challenge. It was necessary for the EESD to redirect existing staff to provide the necessary instruction and training for a successful implementation.
The status report identifies actions the CDE has taken to assist counties with the implementation of their county CELs. It provides first-year expenditure information, information about committee work-group meetings, and very preliminary CEL data on the number of children and families in need of subsidized child care and development services. Counties spent most (46 percent) of their funds for staffing; the next most significant expenditures were for operating expenses that included CEL software and vendor expenses or other technology/systems development.
This report will present some preliminary family and child characteristics data collected from the county CELs, including over 130,000 families and 200,000 children waiting for services during July through September of 2006. While these preliminary results provide a current perspective on the possible number of families and children waiting for subsidized child care and development services, the data may not reflect complete implementation and may not accurately reflect the full participation of all required EESD contractors. The results should not be interpreted necessarily as reflecting the characteristics of all applicant families waiting on the CEL, and it would be premature to rely on these preliminary results for any major policy-making decisions.
Additionally, this report will discuss some of the first-year challenges that have been identified. These include the lack of full participation from all EESD contractors, which may be due to the inability to adapt to the sudden change in business practices this first year of implementation. Another challenge was the untimely enrollment and submittal of information on children and families to the CEL administrator due to required changes and modifications to their existing enrollment processes. Additional challenges include resources for adequate training and for the development of regulations to ensure county CELs have been implemented consistently throughout the state.