SAN JOSE, CA – Hundreds more children in Santa Clara County will have access to high-quality child care following the signing on September 24 of Assembly Bill 2368 by Governor Jerry Brown that will ease restrictions for low-income families. Authored by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, representing California's 24th District, and co-sponsored by the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) and child care provider Kidango, the new law gives the county government limited flexibility regarding child care subsidy funds.
AB2368 authorizes Santa Clara County to develop and implement an individualized child care subsidy plan from January 1, 2017 until January 1, 2022, but it does not change the total amount of funds allocated to the county for subsidized child care, nor does it result in additional statewide assistance costs.
"Simply put, this law will enable Santa Clara County child development agencies to provide high-quality preschool and child care to more low-income children and their families," said County Superintendent of Schools Jon R. Gundry.
The double-edged sword of living in Silicon Valley is the high cost of living brings competitive wages, but this also pushes many families over the state eligibility requirements allowed for child care assistance. In addition, reimbursement rates for child care providers based on a statewide index don't provide enough to cover local program costs. This resulted in the county returning approximately $9.3 million to the state in unused state subsidized child care contracts in 2014-15, according to the county's Local Early Education Planning Council, which equates to about 1,100 more children who could have been served.
As the largest early learning provider in the county — offering a variety of programs for young children, families and districts, including Head Start, Early Start and State Preschool — the SCCOE has long been a champion for early learning to prepare students for kindergarten and academic success throughout school. In 2012, the SCCOE convened Strong Start, a coalition of community leaders, early education providers, nonprofit organizations, elected officials, members of the business community, and other key stakeholders who are committed to expanding access to high-quality early learning opportunities for children age 0 to 8 in Santa Clara County.
The coalition meets monthly to find local solutions to help increase access to high quality early education and advocates for legislation at the state level to encourage increased investments in early learning. In May, a delegation of Strong Start representatives visited Bay Area legislators in Sacramento to advocate for early learning programs, including AB 2368, and has been actively supporting the bill every step of the way.
AB 2368 was co-authored by Assemblymembers Kansen Chu, Evan Low, and Mark Stone, and Senators Jim Beall, Jerry Hill, and Bob Wieckowski.
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