Early-childhood programs will be at the top of the agenda for incoming California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who takes office Jan. 7.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Newsom, a Democrat and the former mayor of San Francisco, is proposing to spend $1.8 billion on several programs in the state aimed at young children. About $750 million, would be used to expand the number of facilities offering full-day kindergarten. Another part of the proposal would help train child-care workers and expand state-subsidized child-care facilities. Additional funding would also go to home-visiting programs, which provide trained counselors to support at-risk parents through pregnancy and a child’s early years.
Child-care advocates in the state said that the proposal from Newsom avoids competition between child care and prekindergarten programs.
“The reality is we need to expand both simultaneously,” Ted Lempert, the president of the California advocacy group Children Now, told the Times.
Newsom campaigned on a promise of expanding early-childhood education, and Democrats enjoy large margins in both houses of the state legislature. His focus on early childhood, however, might be a practical decision to focus on an area of popular agreement. From the Times:
Emphasizing a policy area with broad appeal in his first state budget could reflect Newsom's political sensibility about the challenges ahead. Democratic lawmakers and interest groups will be especially eager to see how Newsom addresses the demand for an overhaul of health care coverage in California—especially after a 2017 effort to create a single-payer, universal system fizzled. The path forward on health care is complex and costly, making early childhood education a more achievable goal in the governor-elect's early tenure.
However, the governor-elect has also been tempering spending expectations, according to the Sacramento Bee, which said Newsom wants to make changes gradually over his four-years in office. For example, universal preschool would require “years and years” to build, Newsom told the newspaper.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.