Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 15:08 EDT

PACE Statement: Massive Damage To Early Childhood Education Programs A Blow To Children, Parents And Providers

May 21, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Drastic cuts to California’s early childhood education program proposed by Governor Brown will more than triple costs for low income families, depriving children of a vital first step that can make the difference between future success and failure.

“This program serves the state’s poorest families. A low income family with three children in the program pays a maximum of $250 to $300 under the current system. Those costs would triple to nearly $3,000 for daycare from private providers,” according to Lisa Wilkin, executive director, Child Development Consortium of Los Angeles.

Without this vital link to childcare many parents will be doomed to continued dependence on welfare. Low income children are already behind when they get to preschool. “If we can get low income children into these programs when they’re infants it helps to catch up to more advantaged children. It’s well documented that children who have a high quality preschool experience do much better in school than those who don’t,” continues Wilkin.

Approximately 30,000 of California’s lowest income children will lose access to early education programs if the $500 million in proposed budget cuts are approved by the California Legislature. Early childhood education has faced a total of a 42 percent funding reduction in just four years.

“The consequences of cutting these programs are significant,” said Tim Fitzharris Ph.D., legislative advocate, Child Development Policy Institute. “For every dollar spent you avoid seven dollars later in welfare, unemployment, and criminal justice. You can pay now or wait until middle school when they fail and you have to start making arrests and building new prisons.”

“California has long been committed to the principle that children deserve to start life with a chance to learn and grow. We need a budget that acknowledges the fundamental role quality child care plays in the future of our children and the competitions of our state. Cutting support for child care would fly in the face of decades of research into the benefits of strong early childhood education programs,” says State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

“These cuts will also drive many small centers out of business, resulting in more than just a business closing; it removes a child care infrastructure that will be difficult and costly to replace,” according to Giuliana Halasz, CEO of the Professional Association for Childhood Education Alternative Payment Program (PACEAPP). “Early childhood education adds 200,000 jobs and $11 billion to California’s economy. This proposal is a job killer for the clients we serve. Women are the losers here. They are a majority of the clients, small business owners and teachers. Governor Brown’s drastic budget cuts are a direct attack on our children and their future,” Halasz states vehemently.

Maria Hurtado, who has a bi-lingual pre-school, Los Amiguitos in Fresno, is already on a limited budget and will get less reimbursement under Governor Brown’s proposal, but her costs will stay the same. She continues, “We really want to serve all of the children, as we have done for the past 37 years.” But the reality is she may forced to close her doors.

She mentioned one parent who is a part time student/part time worker. The budget cuts will also delete pay for part time workers, forcing her to drop out of school plus lose her childcare. In order to work or go to school she will have to leave her son with unlicensed caregivers and no regulations, no education program. Maria sees it as, “ruining the lives of both the child and parent.”

She reminded us of what the Governor has possibly forgotten, “Our children are our hope for tomorrow.”

About PACE (www.pacenet.org)

The Professional Association for Childhood Education (PACE) is a non-profit, California statewide organization established in 1955. PACE members operate in excess of 1,000 centers, serving more than 55,000 children in California.

Giuliana Halasz
CEO, Professional Association for Childhood Education Alternative Payment Program (PACEAPP)

SOURCE The Professional Association for Childhood Education (PACE)

Source: PR Newswire