New study confirms California's children fall behind before they start school, and some never catch up

Early Childhood Care and Education in California

Stanford’s Deborah Stipek has published a new study outlining the consequences of California’s Byzantine approach to early childhood care and education. From her report:

More than 24 million children ages 5 and younger live in the United States, and about one in eight of them—a little over 3 million—lives in California. Compared to the rest of the country, California has about twice as many children ages 5 and under who are first- or second-generation immigrants and live in families in which the adults are not fluent in English. About one in five of all children ages 5 and younger in California live in poverty, and nearly half of California’s children live in households that are at or near the poverty level. While their parents are at work or in school, about 1.2 million of California’s young children are cared for by relatives or attend preschool, a child-care center, family home care, Head Start, or a combination thereof.

Given the rapid brain development during a child’s first five years of life, which lays the foundation for all future learning, California has a compelling interest and responsibility to ensure that these programs provide a safe, socially supportive, and effective educational environment for young children. Considerable research shows that children attending high-quality preschool programs receive significant benefits. California has many good providers; but for a state that once led the nation in early childhood education, early childhood education today is marked by diminished investments in quality, low wages, and highly fractured oversight.

It’s clear that California is letting our youngest children down. We need the next governor to take swift action to solve this crisis.

Read more about the study in the LA Times or access the full report.