Where Does California Stand in the “Raising of America”?

Helping low- and moderate-income families afford early care and education services allows kids to thrive and provides assistance for working parents. A new documentary series, The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of Our Nation, highlights just how critical it is to support families with young children with a variety of public policies, including those that expand access to high-quality early care and education. In fact, investing in high-quality child care and development programs can have long-term payoffs that we cannot ignore, such as greater academic achievement and less involvement with the criminal justice system. This short trailer from The Raising of America highlights what’s at stake in investing in young children:

Unfortunately, when faced with severe budget shortfalls during and after the Great Recession, state policymakers cut support for California’s child care and development system by about 40 percent, resulting in the loss of around 110,000 child care and preschool slots. The state has made progress in recent years in restoring some of these cuts, but despite these gains, funding for child care and preschool slots is still more than 20 percent lower than funding levels in 2007-08, after adjusting for inflation.

Support for Child Care and Preschool in 215-16 Remains More Than 20 Percent Below Pre-Recession Levels 11.20.15

Available for free online streaming through November, The Raising of America illustrates that the child care system in the US is failing many of our youngest children. Yet, California’s policymakers can take steps to help address this problem. As we head into the next state budget cycle, it will be crucial to continue restoring funding for California’s child care and development system in order both to increase the number of children served and to support providers with adequate reimbursement rates. Increased support is essential for the state’s most vulnerable children, for low- and moderate-income families just trying to make ends meet, and for the child care and preschool teachers in the state that provide this vital care.

— Kristin Schumacher