SACRAMENTO - Today, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) introduced a groundbreaking legislative proposal to ensure that all children have access to preschool regardless of their family’s income. Under the provisions of AB 47, the California Department of Education will be required to work with the Legislature and the Department of Finance on how to bridge the preschool gap for the children of low income parents who aren’t already covered by the state’s preschool coverage efforts, which passed earlier this year as part of the state’s budget.
“I applaud Governor Brown in signing last year’s budget and beginning the process of providing preschool for low income kids.” Assemblymember McCarty noted after introducing AB 47. “But in a state as fundamentally important as California, we can’t afford not to cover all children, regardless of their economic status. Given the recent increased budget projections by the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the time to invest in our future is now. And there’s no better way to do that than focusing on the next generation.”
As part of the 2014-2015 State Budget that the Legislature passed, only children in families who made less than twice the federal poverty level were provided preschool. But that would leave many children not adequately covered. In Sacramento County alone, over 3000 children are eligible for preschool but cannot afford it and aren’t covered by last year’s budget action. According to a RAND report on early childhood education, the groups of children with the largest school readiness and achievement gaps are the least likely to attend high-quality early learning programs. Additionally, educational studies have shown that children who attend preschool are more likely to attain higher paid jobs and avoid prison terms. As an immediate result, children who attend preschool are more prepared to enter kindergarten than their non-preschool counterparts, leading to higher rates of educational attainment and literacy.