First 5 Counties: 2020-21 State Budget Prioritizes Young Children & Families on Multiple Fronts

ALAMEDA, CA — The 58 First 5 county commissions greatly appreciate the collaborative effort undertaken by Governor Newsom and the legislature to pass and sign a budget that prioritizes young children and their families, and maintains our shared vision of an equitable California.

Amid the challenges wrought by a global pandemic, this budget supports policies and programs that First 5 has long elevated as essential to our state’s health and economic well-being. These include quality early care and education; early identification and intervention; infant and maternal health; paid family leave; and tax credits for working families — all in service of helping families most in need.

“With a budget that preserves many investments in young children and families, the governor and legislature have made clear they understand the needs of families with young children during this moment, and are committed to meeting them,” said Kim Goll, president of First 5 Association and Executive Director of First 5 Orange County.  “Focusing on primary prevention for our youngest residents will help ensure the long-term health and well-being of our residents and state as we move toward recovery.”

Specifically, the 2020-21 final budget:

  • Maintains reimbursement rates for subsidized child care providers, and holds harmless subsidized programs serving families both in person and through distance learning.
  • Adds new child care spaces through federal funds; gives stipends to child care providers offering care to low-income children during the pandemic.
  • Extends child care vouchers for essential workers, at-risk children, and children with disabilities for 90 days with federal funding from the CARES Act, and gives the workers priority for available year-long subsidized slots, as long as they meet income requirements.

“Early care and education is fundamental to strong children, strong families and a strong economic recovery,” said Kim Belshé, executive director at First 5 LA. “This was a challenging budget for our elected leaders to craft. By maintaining investments in such critical supports as child care and preschool, the Governor and legislators recognized the contribution of early care and education to supporting economic recovery and closing the gap in opportunity experienced by young children of color.  We remain committed to working with the Governor and legislators to address the barriers that keep us from achieving equitable outcomes for all children and families.”

  • Preserves funding for the Black Infant Health program.
  • Preserves Prop 56 value-based payments to improve care for Medi-Cal patients, including for developmental screenings for young children and ACEs screening and provider training, until July 1, 2021.
  • Preserves supplemental rate increases for developmental services providers, including Early Start, and keeps Regional Centers whole.
  • Maintains CalWORKs home visiting for families currently receiving services. A one-time program cut of $30 million will be restored in FY 2021-22.
  • Extends the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit to ITIN filers with children under age six.

Additionally, two critical issues to First 5 will continue to be debated in the weeks ahead. Job-protected Paid Family Leave (PFL), which was part of the budget negotiation, will move through the legislative process through SB 1383, and the Nicotine-Based Vaping Tax (“vape tax”) has been deferred and will be addressed in August.

“We will continue to build the case that workers who pay into and qualify for leave shouldn’t lose their jobs or be demoted for taking time to bond with a new child or care for a family member, “said Mary Ann Hansen, chair of First 5 Association’s Policy Committee and Executive Director of First 5 Humboldt County. “Additionally, First 5 looks forward to participating in upcoming discussions around the Vape Tax, in order to ensure young children and families receive their fair Prop 10 equivalency of the tax.”

“Inevitably, there were disappointing cuts to the budget that will defer the vision of building out robust early childhood systems of care as quickly as we had once hoped,” Ms. Goll said. “But First 5 is committed to working with legislators and the administration to keep this vision front and center, as we navigate together toward renewed health and vitality for all Californians.”


About First 5 Association

First 5 Association of California is the voice of the 58 First 5 county commissions, which were created by voters in 1998 to ensure our kids are healthy, safe, and ready to learn. Together, First 5 touches the lives of more than one million kids, families, and caregivers each year, and strengthens our state by giving kids the best start in life. Learn more at