Overview

California is home to more than 10 percent of the nation’s children and 25 percent of the nation’s Latinx children. Over 450,000 children born each year in the Golden State and more than $5 billion in federal and state funds are invested annually in over a dozen early childhood services and programs and across a diverse range of settings. Governor Gavin Newsom has been a champion for early childhood support throughout his career and has put forth a comprehensive state agenda for children and families. During the first year of his administration there have been over $2 billion in new investments including a commitment to develop a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care in the coming year.

The following funding annual breakout, map, and program and service descriptions are not exhaustive of all early childhood expenditure but are intended to be a primer on the state’s complex early childhood system.

Annual Early Childhood Funding Breakout

*Budget data represents total allocation for children 12 and under.
**Budget data for children 0-5 is not available.

Map of California’s Early Childhood Funding

Community-based early childhood center

Licensed providers of early learning and care for groups of children in a commercial facility.

K-12 schools

Schools with preschool, Head Start or other early childhood service offerings

Family child care home

Licensed providers of early learning and care for groups of children in a private home.

Family, friends, and neighbors

License-exempt individuals who care for children in a private home.

Child and family support entities

Organizations and agencies that provide a range of services including home visiting, special education, nutrition and other health related supports.

Hospitals and clinics

The public and private hospitals and clinics that provide health services to children.

Map Demo

Click each service/program name to view the funding stream

Types of Program & Service Descriptions

Click for more detail

Head Start

Head Start (HS), Early Head Start (EHS), Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships, Migrant Head Start, Tribal Head Start
  • What is the program/service?
    Head Start is a program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that provides comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children from birth to age 5 and their families. Many Head Start programs also provide Early Head Start (EHS), which is a comprehensive child development program for low-income pregnant women, infants, and toddlers (from birth through 2), including young children with disabilities. California also has Tribal and Migrant and Seasonal Head Start as well as Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships.
  • Who is the provider?
    K–12 schools, operators of community-based early childhood centers, some family childcare homes, and child and family support entities.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $1.1 billion (FY17)

    Head Start funds are awarded directly to eligible program operators at the local level. Operators can use contract funds for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology. Additional funds for professional development are also included in grants and may be used for technology as well. Regional technical assistance centers receive separate funding and may choose to leverage technology.

  • Who benefits?
    A total of 104,585 children are served in Head Start (81,932), Early Head Start, including Child Care Partnerships (15,583), Migrant Head Start (6,574), and American Indian Alaskan Native Head Start and Early Head Start (496) (FY17).

California State Preschool Program (CSPP)

  • What is the program/service?
    The California State Preschool Program (CSPP) is a child development and school readiness program that provides full- and part-day preschool for 3- and 4-year-old children from low-income families. It is a center-based program provided through LEAs and community-based early childhood centers.
  • Who is the provider?
    K-12 schools and operators of community-based early childhood centers.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $1.24 billion (FY17)

    Contracts are awarded by the California Department of Education to eligible program providers. Operators can use contract funds for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    103,000 children are served in part-day programs and 67,000 in full-day programs (FY18).

Title I Preschool

  • What is the program/service?
    K–12 schools and other local education agencies (LEAs) with a concentration of low-income children receive targeted funds under Part A (Title I) of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA), which provides financial assistance to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards. Title 1 funds may be used by LEAs to fund early childhood education programs for eligible children that are subject to the performance standards of the Head Start Act.
  • Who is the provider?
    K–12 schools.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    Data on the amount of Title 1 funds allocated to preschool and early childhood programs is not available.

    School districts have flexibility in how they spend their Title 1 funds to help ensure all children are able to meet academic standards, including for a wide range of program expenses such as operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    Data on numbers of children served not available.

General Child Care and Development Programs

  • What is the program/service?
    General Child Care and Development programs offer subsidized spaces in licensed ECE programs for children 0–12 years old from low-income families. Federal Child Care and Development Funds (CCDF) are blended with state funding to support these programs in California.
  • Who is the provider?
    K–12 schools, operators of community-based early childhood centers, and family childcare homes.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $360 million (FY17)

    Contracts are awarded by the California Department of Education to eligible program providers. Operators can use contract funds for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    28,563 children 0–12 years old (FY17).

CalWORKs vouchers

Alternative Payment Program vouchers
  • What is the program/service?
    These programs provide voucher-based childcare subsidies to low-income families. These vouchers are funded with state and federal funding from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • Who is the provider?
    Operators of community-based early childhood centers, family childcare homes, and family, friends, and neighbors.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $1.98 billion (FY19) including $1.44 billion for CalWORKS childcare and $536 million for the Alternative Payment Program vouchers.

    This funding is used to issue voucher payments to the childcare provider of the family’s choice, with some funding set aside for administering agencies’ overhead costs. Operators and individuals that accept children with voucher subsidies can use funds for a wide range of expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    125,224 children ages 0–12 whose parents are part of the CalWORKs program and 29,804 children 0–12 through the Alternative Payment Program (FY17).

Migrant Child Care

Migrant Child Care Programs, Migrant Alternative Payment Programs
  • What is the program/service?
    Migrant childcare programs serve children whose parents are engaged in migrant or seasonal work, particularly farm workers. In California, there are migrant alternative payment (voucher) programs and migrant childcare and development programs that serve children from birth to age 12.
  • Who is the provider?
    Operators of community-based early childhood centers, family childcare homes, and family, friends, and neighbors.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $35 million (FY17)

    Operators and individuals can use contract funds for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    3,046 children ages birth to age 12 (FY17).

Transitional Kindergarten (TK)

  • What is the program/service?
    Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is a school operated pre-k program for children who turn 5 between September 2 and December 2. Funding for Transitional Kindergarten is provided to school districts through California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the state’s primary school funding formula.
  • Who is the provider?
    K–12 schools
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $861 million (FY18)

    Schools can use TK funding in the same way they expend funds in other grades for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    90,000 children (FY18).

Special Education

Special Education Preschool Program, Early Start Program
  • What is the program/service?
    California’s Special Education Preschool Program provides educational and support services for children (3–5 years old) with special needs. Early Start is California’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers (from birth to age 3) that have been diagnosed with or are at risk of developmental delays or disabilities. The program funds parent education and early intervention services. Both programs are funded through a combination of state funds and federal funding through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — Early Intervention through IDEA Part C and Early Childhood Special Education through IDEA Part B.
  • Who is the provider?
    K–12 schools, operators of community-based early childhood centers, child and family support entities, and hospitals and clinics.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $232 million total (FY15)

    Special Education Preschool Program — $97 million federal IDEA, Part B funds, and $75 million California Proposition 98 General Funds. Early Start Program — $55 million in federal IDEA, Part C funds, and $5 million California General Fund (Non-Proposition 98).

    Funding can pay for assistive technology for children. Other service delivery funds may be spent on operations, professional development, and technology. Preschool special education services under IDEA Part B are generally subject to greater strictures in allowable expenditures than IDEA Part C services for infants and toddlers.

  • Who benefits?
    36,895 children 0–3 years of age and 45,398 children 3–5 years of age (FY15).

State and County First 5 Initiatives

  • What is the program/service?
    First 5 funding — revenue from tobacco taxes implemented under Proposition 10 — is used to promote the healthy development of children prenatally to age 5 and to support parent education. Eighty percent of statewide tobacco tax revenue funds are dispersed by the 58 First 5 county commissions, and the remaining 20 percent is dispersed by First 5 California to fund statewide programs, research, and media campaigns.
  • Who is the provider?
    First 5 funds support a broad range of services offered across all settings including K–12 schools, community-based early childhood centers, family childcare homes, family, friends, and neighbors, child and family support entities, and hospitals and clinics.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $408 million (County Commissions and State Commission) (FY17)

    Funds allocated by First 5 have varied purposes and funding requirements and expenditure restrictions. Many of the funds can be used for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    747,499 children received services by local First 5 Commissions (FY17).

Home Visiting

California Home Visiting Program, CalWORKS Home, Visiting Pilot Program, Local First 5 Home Visiting Initiatives
  • What is the program/service?
    California’s home visiting programs are voluntary parenting programs offered to at-risk pregnant women and parents with children from birth to age 5. Funding for these programs comes from various sources, including: (1) locally controlled Proposition 10 tobacco tax revenues that fund First 5 county commissions; (2) federal grants to local providers as part of the Early Head Start program; and (3) federal grant funds available through the state-administered Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. In addition, California’s 2018–19 budget included $26.7 million for a new, voluntary CalWORKs Home Visiting pilot program.
  • Who is the provider?
    Child and family support entities as well as hospitals and clinics. Services are generally provided in the child’s home.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $321.9M (FY18)

    CalWORKS Home Visiting (expected to serve 18,500 cases) $89.6M general fund and federal TANF funds and $167M ongoing general fund.

    California Home Visiting Program and Black Infant Health Program (under Dept of Public Health) $34.8M in ongoing reimbursements and $30.5M ongoing general fund.

    Operators that provide home visitation service can use contract funds for a wide range of program expenses including operations, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

  • Who benefits?
    43,000 children 0–5 (FY 2015–2016)

Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
  • What is the program/service?
    The California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a federally funded health and nutrition program that provides supplemental foods, nutrition education, and referrals to health care, at no cost, to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are determined to be at nutritional risk.
  • Who is the provider?
    Community-based early childhood centers, K–12 schools, hospitals and clinics including migrant health centers and camps, Indian health service facilities, county health departments, and child and family support entities including community centers and public housing.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    $1.2 billion (FY18)

    WIC funds go to state agencies to operate the program. Funds are used for a variety of purposes including food acquisition by participants as well as funds for eligible services. Some funds may be used for program operation including technology.

  • Who benefits?
    1.1 million California residents each month, of which approximately 837,000 are infants and children (FY19).

MediCal and Children‘s Health Insurance Program

  • What is the program/service?
    Medi-Cal and Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT): Provides health coverage to eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government. The federal-state (50/50) Medicaid program is administered by the California Department of Health Care Services according to federal requirements.

    The Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit provides comprehensive and preventive health care services for children under age 21 who are enrolled in Medicaid including preventive, dental, mental health, developmental, and specialty services. Under this program, California must provide eligible children with periodic screenings to determine their medical needs, including physical, mental, developmental, dental, hearing, and vision.

    Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) serves uninsured children up to age 19 in families with incomes too high to qualify them for Medicaid. California’s CHIP is a joint federal-state program, with the state having broad discretion in setting eligibility standards.

  • Who is the provider?
    Hospitals and clinics as well as child and family support entities.
  • How much funding is there and what is it for?
    Data on the amount of Medicaid and CHIP funds expended on services for children 0–5 is not available.

    Subject to applicable statutes and regulations, these funding streams can be used to cover a range of services, and a variety of technologies are used for the diagnosis and treatment of patients.

  • Who benefits?
    Data on numbers of children 0–5 served is not available.

This report was made possible by the generous support from Omidyar Network.