(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

(1) Providing children in California with a healthy start is one of the best investments the state can make.

Terms Used In California Education Code 8207

  • Children with exceptional needs: means either of the following:

    California Education Code 8208

  • Contract: A legal written agreement that becomes binding when signed.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Four-year-old children: means children who will have their fourth birthday on or before the date specified of the fiscal year in which they are enrolled in a California state preschool program, as follows:

    California Education Code 8208

(2) Research links early childhood interventions and improved life outcomes, including higher education levels, better health, and stronger career opportunities.

(3) All children, from birth through 12 years of age, should have access to culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate, nurturing, educational, and high-quality early learning and care opportunities.

(4) All families should have access to a variety of early learning and care settings that meet their needs and are affordable.

(5) Parents are more likely to be successful in school and work if they know that their children are safe and productively engaged throughout the day.

(6) Children who are emotionally, developmentally, and academically supported in an early learning and care setting are more likely to start school ready to learn and continue to excel once they are enrolled in school.

(7) High-quality early learning and care programs require a competent, effective, well-compensated, and professionally supported workforce that reflects the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity and needs of the children and families served, including children who are dual language learners and children with exceptional needs.

(8) Early learning and care programs must be integrated with other supports and services for children, families, and the workforce.

(9) Subsidized access to high-quality early learning and care programs requires funding sources that are adequate and sustainable to meet the costs of care, respond to the diverse needs of children and families, and adequately compensate and support the workforce.

(b) To guide the implementation of a well-aligned, comprehensive state early learning and care system, the Secretary of California Health and Human Services, or the secretary’s designee, in concurrence with the executive director of the state board, or the executive director’s designee, and in consultation with the Superintendent, or the Superintendent’s designee, shall enter into a contract with one or more nongovernmental research entities to review existing research and data and to conduct research on priority areas of study identified pursuant to subdivision (d). This work shall be compiled in a report, or series of reports, released on a continuing basis and shall be completed on or before October 1, 2020, and provided to the Governor, the chairpersons of the relevant legislative policy and budget committees, the Secretary of California Health and Human Services, the executive director of the state board, the Superintendent, and the Director of Finance.

(c) The report or series of reports prepared pursuant to subdivision (b) shall be designed to support and incorporate relevant components of the 2019 California Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education Final Report, and are intended to be used to develop a master plan to ensure comprehensive, quality, and affordable childcare and universal preschool for children from birth to school age. To the extent necessary and appropriate, the entities conducting research pursuant to this section shall engage a diverse group of stakeholders and experts, including families and providers, to inform their recommendations. All reports shall take into account fiscal sustainability and include costs to implement the recommendations and strategies for prioritizing investments into the recommendations over a multiyear period.

(d) The amount appropriated for purposes of this section in the Budget Act of 2019 shall be allocated for the following priority areas of study:

(1) A fiscal framework that provides options for ongoing funding to significantly expand early learning and care in the state, including options to generate needed revenues and examine alternate funding streams. This framework shall incorporate the principles of shared responsibility, fiscal sustainability, and regional variability, including by examining the appropriate role for government, businesses, and parents in meeting high-quality, affordable childcare and prekindergarten education needs.

(2) Early learning and care facility needs statewide, including surveys of subsidized early learning and care providers to collect information regarding ownership or rental of the facilities, monthly facility payments, ancillary costs, interest in expanding existing facilities, and any associated challenges, including ongoing facility maintenance. This study shall identify areas of the state most in need of early learning and care facility expansion and shall recommend the most appropriate setting types given the unique geographic and capacity characteristics of the region. Additionally, this study shall also seek input from relevant regional entities to identify existing publicly owned facilities that could house early learning and care programs with modifications to meet health and safety requirements, including those facilities owned by school districts, county offices of education, cities, and counties.

(3) Need for early learning and care services by families eligible for subsidies, including those not currently receiving services. The study shall include, but not be limited to, surveys of parents to collect information on current early learning and care arrangements, hours of care needs, key considerations regarding choice of provider and setting, and data about the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of eligible families. This study shall include the need for early learning and care with a priority focus on those children from birth through 5 years of age, but shall also include children from birth through 12 years of age, and shall highlight regions of the state with the lowest relative access to care. The study shall also make recommendations on how to support and promote types of early learning and care that meet families’ cultural and linguistic needs.

(4) An actionable quality improvement plan that includes, but is not limited to, both of the following:

(A) A cohesive set of minimum quality and program guidelines for all subsidized childcare providers by and across settings that balances the improved social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development of children with the resources available to providers, and that takes into account gender, class, race, language access, implicit bias, and lived experience in the construction of quality.

(B) An accessible and cohesive career pathway for all types of childcare professionals, including those whose primary language is not English, that considers a ladder of mobility, aligned with the state’s system of provider reimbursement, based on competencies that are evidence based and driven by characteristics of quality, and that may consider educational attainment to produce a trained and stable workforce.

(5) Necessary steps to provide universal prekindergarten education for all three- and four-year-old children in California, including by considering both of the following:

(A) Recommendations to address the overlap between the transitional kindergarten, state preschool, and Head Start programs, and ensure that all children, regardless of family income, have access to the same level of prekindergarten program quality.

(B) Recommendations to align prekindergarten education with the subsidized childcare system and the elementary and secondary education system, to ensure that children have access to a full day of care, as needed, and ensure seamless matriculation to elementary and secondary education.

(e) The Secretary of California Health and Human Services shall report to the Department of Finance and the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on the proposed expenditures of funding for research identified pursuant to subdivision (d) before entering into any contract for this purpose.

(f) For purposes of subdivisions (b) to (d), inclusive, the California Health and Human Services Agency may enter into exclusive or nonexclusive contracts with nongovernmental research entities on a bid or negotiated basis. A contract entered into or amended pursuant to subdivision (b) shall be exempt from Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 14825) of Part 5.5 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, Section 19130 of the Government Code, and Part 2 (commencing with Section 10100) of Division 2 of the Public Contract Code, and shall be exempt from the review or approval of any division of the Department of General Services.

(g) Notwithstanding any other law, the one or more nongovernmental research entities may subcontract as necessary in the performance of its duties, subject to approval of the Secretary of California Health and Human Services.

(Added by Stats. 2019, Ch. 51, Sec. 1. (SB 75) Effective July 1, 2019.)