By Hannah-Beth Jackson and Cristina Garcia
Special to the Bee
Over the past two years, the women’s caucus has helped restore more than $500 million into these programs, reinstating child care and preschool for more than 45,000 children.
Even as we are making progress, it is remarkable how far we still have to go. When policymakers mention states doing groundbreaking early childhood education work, Oklahoma and Georgia are often lauded. California may be the world’s seventh-largest economy, but we are serving less than a quarter of all eligible children through state-supported child care.
We may be known as the home of technological innovation, but we fail to meet the needs of all our youngest learners. We are a state of great wealth, and yet we have the highest child poverty rate in the country. The women’s caucus, legislators and advocates wage a yearly battle just to recoup funding lost during the downturn.
While preschool funding is rebounding, support for child care continues to lag.
Even with this year’s additional money and record increases in Proposition 98 funding, the state will be offering 50,000 fewer child care slots than in 2008-09. Even before the recession hit, California had approximately 200,000 children on waiting lists. Now, that need is estimated at close to 300,000.