State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson, State Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg Announce Preschool Expansion Slots

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced that the California Department of Education has allocated $67 million to add 7,500 preschool slots for low-income Californians.
“This is a great investment in our future. The expansion of high-quality preschool gives more children the opportunity to obtain the emotional and social skills they need to become lifelong learners,” Torlakson said. “It will help them succeed in school, at the workplace, and in their communities.”
These funds are part of the $264 million that will be spent on expanding early childhood education this budget year, which includes adding a total of 11,500 preschool slots and 1,000 slots with priority given to infants and toddlers. Eventually, the state will be creating preschool opportunities for an additional 31,500 young children.
“By age five, low-income children are more than two years behind in language development,” said Steinberg. “They bring this achievement gap into kindergarten and through no fault of their own, before they even started school, California’s kids have fallen behind. It is smarter and more prudent to make this investment in success up front, than paying for the costs of failure at the end.”
The state also has allocated an additional $10 million for facility renovation and safety improvements and $50 million to improve the quality of early learning by assisting California State Preschool Programs (CSPP) that will increase parental involvement in children’s education, provide developmental screening, and hire teachers with a bachelor’s degree.
During the recession, 100,000 subsidized preschool and child care slots were eliminated because of the dramatic decline in state revenues, causing hardships for working families.
Torlakson and Steinberg made their announcement at the Ralph Hawley Elementary School, which houses a YMCA preschool program. The program, which serves about 60 students, will receive about $177,000 to add slots for 20 more preschool children.
Torlakson called the current expansion a big step forward, but said more needs to be done to make sure that all children have access to high-quality preschool.
Providing low-income families access to high-quality preschool helps eliminate gaps in learning, saving society more than $7 for every dollar invested. These children are less likely to drop out of high school or commit crimes and have higher lifetime earnings than their peers who do not attend high-quality preschool.
For additional information please visit the CDE Early Education and Support Division’s Child Development Web pages.

October 16, 2014

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