Eligibility, Suspension and Expulsion. Last year’s state budget contained language that aims to expand Transitional Kindergarten (TK) offerings to all four-year-olds by the start of the 2025-26 school year. With the likelihood that students will be shifting out of the California State Preschool (CSPP) system and into TK programs, the state has started to look at expanding eligibility for the CSPP to different age groups. In addition to looking at eligibility, another bill looks to limit suspension and expulsion for children enrolled in CSPP or Family Childcare Home Network programs, as well as how to adequately deliver mental health services to children in those settings.
· AB 2806 (Rubio, Blanca) – Would limit the circumstances under which a child could be expelled or suspended from a CSPP or a Family Childcare Home Education Network. Specifically, the bill would prohibit a program from expelling/unenrolling a child unless it first pursues and documents reasonable steps to maintain the child’s safe participation in the program. The bill would also specify that suspension of a child shall only be used as a “… last resort in extraordinary circumstances when there is a serious safety threat that cannot be reduced or eliminated without removal.” In addition to limiting instances of suspension and expulsion, the bill also contains provisions expanding the types of services to be provided under an early childhood mental health consultation service.
· SB 1047 (Limón) – Would expand eligibility for the CSPP to children who are less than three years of age, but who are at least 18 months of age. The bill specifies, however, that it would not authorize local educational agencies (LEAs) operating a license-exempt CSPP classroom to serve children other than four-year-old children. Additionally, the bill would expand eligibility to children who come from households where at least one person is certified to receive benefits from one of a list of various programs (Medi-Cal, CalFresh, etc.)
Universal Preschool? While LEAs across California work to implement Universal TK, there are other conversations percolating around the Capitolpertaining to expanding access to preschool for all four-year-olds. SB 976, authored by Senator Connie Leyva (D-Chino), was amended just recently to include statutory changes that would launch a true paradigm shift in how the state delivers early childhood education. Some of the major provisions of the bill include:
1. Changing the “California State Preschool Program” to the “Universal Preschool Program”
2. Removing eligibility requirements and making the Universal Preschool Program free, inclusive, and open to all three- and four-year-olds
3. Removing certain requirements related to fee schedules
4. Requiring all full- and part-day Universal Preschool Programs to operate for a minimum of 246 days per year
5. Prohibiting public funds from being paid, directly or indirectly, to an agency that does not pay at least “a living wage” to each of its employees
6. Ensuring that the standard reimbursement rate provides for at least a living wage for all universal preschool site supervisors, teachers, and staff
These proposed changes to the CSPP will certainly serve for a weighty policy debate around how the state offers early childhood education services. Governor Newsom continues to champion adding “an entirely new grade” to the K-12 system by expanding TK access to all four-year-olds. This dynamic will play largely into the politics around, and ultimate outcome of, SB 976.
Other pieces of legislation. In addition to the three bills highlighted above, below is a summary of the other active bills in the early learning space that we are currently tracking. We will continue to monitor them as they move through the legislative process. In the meantime, as always, please reach out to any of us at Capitol Advisors if you have questions about these or any other bills.
Legislative Analyst | Capitol Advisors Group