First 5: 2021-22 State Budget Prioritizes Equity, Supports Whole-Child, Whole-Family Wellbeing

ALAMEDA, CA (July 13, 2021) – First 5 congratulates and appreciates the Legislature and Governor Newsom for their hard work to create a 2021-22 state budget that supports the wellbeing of young children and their families, and focuses especially on those farthest from opportunity. SB 129 was signed into law yesterday. 

“After a year that has taxed children, families, and early childhood professionals like no other, the Legislature and governor worked out a budget that supports the whole child and whole family in both the short and long term,” said Melissa Stafford Jones, executive director of the First 5 Association of California. “Investing equitably in young children and families’ mental and physical health, financial stability, and access to child care is a true investment in the future of our entire state.” 

First 5 cheers especially those elements of the budget that support an equity-based approach to improving the wellbeing of families, including: 

Child Care

  • A comprehensive package to stabilize and bolster the child care field through an array of strategies, such as:
  • annualizing an increase in provider reimbursement rates to 75% of the 2018 Regional Market Rate, and allocating one-time federal money to bring all providers to 85% for the next two years
  • adding 120,000 new child care slots in 2021-22, and increasing to 200,000 new slots by 2024-25
  • waiving family fees for one year
  • continuing hold harmless payment policies
  • expanding funding for child care facilities
  • Provision of one-time funds for early childhood mental health consultation to support child care providers in addressing children’s social-emotional development, using trauma-informed practices, and promoting health and wellbeing for children and families impacted by the pandemic

Mental and Physical Health 

  • Five-year extension of Medi-Cal eligibility for postpartum individuals to 12 months after birth 
  • Creation of a Medi-Cal dyadic care benefit to improve preventive care for young children and their parents/caregivers, address social-emotional needs, and support maternal mental health 
  • Addition of doula services as a covered Medi-Cal benefit
  • Addition of Community Health Workers to provide culturally responsive care to Medi-Cal clients
  • Creation of a Children & Youth Behavioral Health Initiative to reimagine mental and behavioral health supports for individuals ages 0-25
  • Continuation of financial support to work across systems to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)

Developmental Screening and Services

  • Extension of Early Start services for children with developmental delays up to age 5, and allocation of federal IDEA funds to improve coordination between state and local agencies to support the Part C to Part B transition
  • Continuation of Prop. 56 supplemental payments that incentivize well-child visits and screenings for ACEs and developmental delays 

Family Strengthening and Supports

  • Extension of the current 60%-70% wage replacement for paid family leave for low-income families until the end of 2022
  • Dedication of a total of $12 billion in Golden State Stimulus payments that will reach two-thirds of Californians, with $600 direct payments to all taxpayers who make up to $75,000/year and didn’t receive a first payment; and additional direct payments for families with dependents, including undocumented families 
  • Increase of the CalWORKs Maximum Aid Payment 

“The governor and lawmakers have clearly recognized that investing in building more effective systems of support for families and children is not only the right thing to do, but crucial to California’s future,” said Kim Belshé, executive director of First 5 LA. “The state budget Governor Newsom signed this week prioritizes supports that promote optimal child development, maternal health, and family stability. As California navigates the early phases of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring that families can access health care and child care resources must continue to be the strong focus of our shared efforts.”

First 5 recognizes that this budget is only the beginning, and we look forward to continuing conversations with the administration and Legislature on critical issues such as ensuring that children 0-5 who are not directly connected to K-12 schools will have a pathway to access social-emotional and mental health supports. We also anticipate partnering on efforts to provide continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children 0 to 5 years of age, and to increase wage replacement for families with low income who take paid family leave. Additionally, as this budget invests robustly in discrete programs and safety net responses, it highlights the opportunity to build more integrated systems of care that address the holistic needs of young children and families and break down silos. 

“This budget addresses the most critical needs faced by California’s children and families and begins building a path towards greater health and prosperity for all,” said Camille Maben, executive director of First 5 California. “I commend the Governor and the Legislature for making transformative whole child, whole family investments, and Senator Connie Leyva for her determined pursuit of rate reform for child care providers. We look forward to working with our State’s leaders to ensure these investments continue to meet the needs of California’s children.”

“We still don’t know the full impact the pandemic will have on young children and families, in areas ranging from mental health, routine vaccinations and screenings, early learning, social-emotional development, family stability, and much more,” said Kim Goll, president of First 5 Association’s executive committee and executive director of First 5 Orange County. “First 5 is committed to working arm in arm with the administration, lawmakers, and other partners at the state and local level to ensure families with young children get all the support they need as we emerge from this singular period in our state and nation’s history.”