Final CA Budget Must Prioritize Child Care, Programs That Support Families

ALAMEDA, CA (June 15, 2020) – Child care and other programs that support families must be prioritized in the final 2020-21 state budget, which now awaits Governor Newsom’s action, said First 5 Association, First 5 California, and First 5 LA on Monday.

Specifically, First 5 believes the following elements must be included in a final budget in order to ensure the health of California’s people and economy, and maintain the administration’s commitment to equity, as the state addresses the COVID-19 pandemic and aftermath:

  • Maintain reimbursement rates for child care providers: Do NOT impose a 10% cut. Many child care providers operate on razor-thin margins, and a 10% cut to reimbursement rates would cause more providers to go out of business, disproportionately affecting communities of color. COVID-19 has shown the essential nature of child care to our emergency response, and it will be critical to our economic recovery as the state opens up and more parents return to the workplace.
  • Protect child care providers with a hold-harmless provision that waives reporting and attendance requirements for contracted child care programs. This will help providers plan for and adapt to uncertainty from COVID-19, adding stability to the child care system.
  • Extend the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit to ITIN filers with children under age six. Hundreds of thousands of immigrant families who earn low wages and pay taxes are excluded from these credits, further widening the economic disparities they experience.
  • Protect the jobs of individuals who take paid family leave (PFL), and allot $1 million to help small businesses comply with 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Most workers contribute to the state’s PFL program but their jobs aren’t guaranteed when they return to work, making them effectively unable to use the leave. Lack of job protections is most likely to affect workers with low wages, who tend to be women, and Black and Latinx workers.
  • Maintain funding for the Black Infant Health (BIH) program; Do NOT impose a $4.5 million cut.  Given the large health disparities between Black mothers and infants and their white counterparts, maintaining this program is essential to pursuing the governor’s goal of a California for All.
  • Maintain Prop 56 value-based payments for physicians to improve care for Medi-Cal patients, including developmental screenings for children 0-5 years old, at a time when well-child visits and immunizations have declined due to COVID-19.
  • Preserve CalWORKS Home Visiting for current families so they continue to receive this critical family strengthening program during a particularly challenging time for parents and young children. COVID-19 is introducing or exacerbating stressors that challenge families and can result in increased risk of a child being abused or neglected. Home Visiting programs not only work with high-risk populations directly but also help families navigate the different service systems and supports during crisis and transition.
  • Defer discussion of the nicotine-based tax on vaping products until after the budget is finalized, to allow more time for an inclusive stakeholder process around policy implications and unintended consequences. First 5 is concerned the current proposal bypasses existing tobacco taxes, which will accelerate our declining revenues. Now is not the time to accelerate cuts to primary prevention programs that help build strong families and support children’s development and well-being.

“As we work harder than ever in communities across the state, First 5 has seen firsthand what a difficult time this has been for families and young children, and how families need support like never before,” said Kim Goll, president of First 5 Association of California. “A budget that prioritizes primary prevention for our youngest residents, through access to quality child care and programs that support optimal development and family strengthening, is critical to ensuring the health and well-being of Californians as we reopen our economy.”

“A true California for All budget will not impose cuts to the most essential services and supports for vulnerable families in California,” said Camille Maben, executive director of First 5 California. “Governor Newsom and the Legislature must continue to show leadership and the prioritization of children and families in this most important budget we’ve seen yet.”

“A budget is a statement of priorities and values; now more than ever, it is time for our state elected leaders to recognize family-serving systems, especially quality child care for working families, as a critical piece of our state’s economic infrastructure and recovery,” said Kim Belshé executive director of First 5 LA. “And, it is past time to shift the conditions that hold children and families back and contribute to racial disparities. This means making the early learning, child health and family strengthening systems that focus on families, work for families, especially for families of color. We are committed to working with the Governor and legislators to address the disparities that have become barriers to achieve more equitable outcomes for young children and their families.”