Today hundreds of early care and education advocates will descend on the state capitol for the 15th annual Stand for Children Day. Their voices are needed again this year as California faces another round of budget deficits, and low-income children face another round of devastating cuts to vital health and child care programs.
We’ll know more this month when the Governor’s May Revise is released. As the budget stands now, 62,000 low-income children would lose their child care and thousands more would be affected by reduced CalWORKs grants and time limits.
With personal and corporate income taxes falling $2 to $3.5 billion below the Governor’s original projections, I think it’s safe to say that the May Revise will once again be a budget that does not stand for children.
And that’s a shame since investing in early childhood is the long-term solution to California’s budget problems.
In the U.S., more than 1.2 million students drop out of school every year, and nearly half of all low-income students do not graduate from high school. Poor education outcomes lead to inequality, an inadequate workforce, and increased social spending.
But quality early childhood education offers one of the highest returns on any public investment – at least $7 to $14 for every dollar spent. It results in better outcomes in education, health, and economic productivity. It saves government spending on K-12 education, special education, public assistance, and the criminal justice system.
If we want individuals to produce more and need less government support (i.e. contribute to growth, not deficits) then we must invest in early childhood. The research is there, but unfortunately California has a deficit strategy; not a growth strategy for building our future workforce.
Early last month, the Governor urged legislators to “man-up” on state budget cuts (you know, cut more programs for very poor women and children). How about really showing some courage and standing for children – not just today, but every day.