Though several bills were introduced this year dealing with various pieces of the early care and education (ECE) space, ultimately most of the actual policy change that happened in 2023 came via the state budget process – which is increasingly the case in many areas of education policy in California.
Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Rollout to Continue on Schedule.
In the TK arena, the most important thing to know is that the rollout of universal TK is slated to continue on schedule. The state committed funding in the 2023 Budget Act for additional TK students via “rebenching” of the Proposition 98 Guarantee to cover those additional students, and appears poised to do so into the outyears. As a reminder, that means the birth date ranges for enrollment of eligible children into TK programs will expand as follows:
- For the 2023-24 school year, any child who has their fifth birthday between September 2 and April 2
- For the 2024-25 school year, any child who has their fifth birthday between September 2 and June 2
- For the 2025-26 school year, and in each school year thereafter, any child who has their fourth birthday by September 1
Specifically, the state committed $597 million of General Fund to cover additional TK students in the 2023-24 school year, and another $165 million to help school districts and charter schools with the costs of maintaining 1-to-12 adult-to-student ratios in TK classrooms.
Other, more significant changes in TK came by way of some of the requirements for school districts and charter schools operating these programs. Included in the Budget Act were the following changes to note:
- Language to require, beginning in the 2025-26 school year, TK classrooms to maintain a 1-to-10 adult- to-student ratio (with intent language to provide funding for this purpose).
- NOTE: Prior statute included funding contingency language to trigger the 1-to-10 ratio, essentially saying no school district or charter school would be required to meet that standard unless the state provided funding to do so – the budget struck the contingency language and replaced it with the above-mentioned “intent”
- A delay in the requirement for teachers first assigned to a TK classroom after July 1, 2015, to have 24 units of ECE by August 1, 2023 – the new date for this requirement is August 1, 2025.
Budget Act Provides Clarity on TK “Early Enrollment Children.”
Current law authorizes school districts and charter schools to enroll children in TK programs outside of the applicable birthdate ranges, with the understanding that they will not receive funding to do so, and so long as that child has their fifth birthday during that same school year. However, we have heard from many school districts that there has been confusion about enrolling “summer babies” in TK – specifically, those children whose birthdays fall over the summer before the start of a new school year, a time which may not be considered “during the same school year”.
To address this confusion, the Budget Act also included several new parameters around what the state refers to as “early enrollment children.” For school districts and charter schools that are interested in enrolling all four- year-old children into TK immediately, it is important to note the following new rules for children whose birthdays fall over the summer:
- An “early enrollment child” is defined to mean a child whose fourth birthday will be between June 2 and September 1 preceding the school year during which they are enrolled in a TK
- Commencing July 1, 2023, and for the 2023-24, and 2024-25 school years, any school district or charter school that offers TK to early enrollment children must concurrently offer enrollment in a California State Preschool Program (CSPP) that is operated by the school district or charter school.
- Early enrollment children do not generate average daily attendance until their fifth
- School districts or charter schools may only enroll early enrollment children if all of the following conditions are met:
- Any classroom that includes an early enrollment pupil shall maintain an adult-to-pupil ratio of at least 1:10.
- Any classroom that includes an early enrollment pupil shall not exceed a classroom enrollment of more than 20.
- The school district or charter school prioritizes assigning credentialed teachers that meet at least one of the requirements related to the 24 ECE units for TK teachers.
- There will be fiscal penalties similar to those that exist in current law for TK programs related to staff ratios and class size for school districts and charter schools enrolling early enrollment children, and that fail to meet the above requirements.
The entire early enrollment child statute sunsets on July 1, 2025, which coincides with full deployment of universal TK, at which time any four-year-old may be enrolled into a TK program.
Changes to CSPP, Family Fees, and Other ECE Programs
In addition to all the changes to the TK program, there were a handful of other statutory changes to other programs:
- The requirement that 5% of a full-day or part-day CSPP contracting agency’s funded enrollment be reserved for children with exceptional needs, has been pushed out to July 1, 2025.
- The requirement that 10% of a full-day or part-day CSPP contracting agency’s funded enrollment shall be reserved for children with exceptional needs, has been pushed out to July 1, 2026.
- Three-year-olds have been added as a third enrollment priority for full-day
The state also provided $56 million to reimburse childcare providers for waived or reduced family fees, and, commencing October 1, 2023, family fees shall not exceed 1% of a family’s monthly income and a family with an adjusted monthly income below 75% of the state median family income shall not be charged or assessed a family fee.
Childcare Providers Union Reaches new Agreement with State.
In 2019, Governor Newsom signed AB 378, by then-Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-San Luis Obispo). The bill authorized child care workers in California the right to unionize, ultimately culminating in the creation of Childcare Providers United. The first agreement between the Union and the State expired on July 1, 2023. A new agreement was reached on June 30, 2023, and SB 140 contained the relevant language for the ratified agreement with the state. While not an exhaustive list, some of the major provisions of the agreement include:
- Allocating funding to the CDSS and the Department of Education (CDE) to provide a monthly “cost of care plus rate” per child to all subsidized child care
- Establishing that all subsidized child care providers shall be reimbursed at 100% of the contract maximum reimbursable amount or net reimbursable program costs, whichever is less, through June 30,
- Requiring CDSS to begin the process of rate reform by defining elements of the state’s proposed single rate structure for setting childcare rates, and reporting to the Legislature on progress made to conduct an alternative methodology by February 15, 2024.
- Defining “part-time” as care certified for a child for fewer than 25 hours per week, and defines “full-time” as care certified for a child for 25 or more hours per week, for purposes of all subsidized child care programs and the CSPP.
This new agreement runs until July 1, 2025.
The Governor signed the following early childhood bills:
- AB 110 (Committee on Budget) – Early childcare and education
This bill reappropriated one-time federal funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 to provide an additional, temporary rate supplement for all state-subsidized child care and preschool programs and extended the family fee waiver from June 30, 2023 to September 30, 2023 for all child care programs. The bill, in coordination with SB 100, also authorized the CDE to extend the family fee waiver from June 30, 2023 to September 30, 2023 for the full day preschool program.
Chapter 4, Statutes of 2023
- AB 116 (Committee on Budget) – Early childcare and education
This bill, the Early Childhood Education omnibus trailer bill, authorizes the Department of Social Services (CDSS) to develop and conduct an alternative methodology in order to inform reimbursement rates for state- subsidized childcare and development services. It also:
- Extends the COVID-19 era hold harmless policy for child care program and preschool reimbursement to September 30, 2023;
- Streamlines state preschool eligibility determination;
- Delays the implementation date for preschool special needs service set aside increases by two years;
- Changes the childcare and preschool family fee structure to no more than 1% of the family’s monthly income for families above 75% of the state median family income; and,
- Suspends the statutory cost-of-living adjustment for all childcare and preschool programs, in deference to a system reimbursement rate increase, subject to
Chapter 41, Statutes of 2023
- AB 393 (Rivas, Luz) – Childcare: dual language learners.
This bill requires the Director of CDSS to develop procedures for general or migrant childcare and development contractors to identify and report data on dual language learners (DLLs) in General Childcare and Development Programs (CCTRs) or Migrant Childcare and Development Programs (CMIGs). The bill further requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Director of CDSS to coordinate their efforts in developing procedures and reporting data regarding DLLs.
Chapter 435, Statutes of 2023
- SB 722 (Ochoa Bogh) – Daycare facilities: incidental medical services plans
This bill requires CDSS to develop, by January 1, 2025, template forms for plans of operation and incidental medical services plans in daycare facilities. This bill allows licensed daycare facilities that submit an incidental medical services plan using the template form to enroll a child prior to departmental approval.
Chapter 631, Statutes of 2023
Capitol Advisors Group has produced a set of comprehensive client briefs detailing new education laws that were passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2023. Each brief is organized by subject area and includes an executive summary highlighting major changes we think you should know about. Bills signed by the Governor take effect on January 1, 2024, unless the bill specifically states otherwise.
- Posted by CCIS
- On December 27, 2023