FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KION) Speaking in Fresno on Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a set of bills to help transform early education across the state.
The bills aim to help identify dual-language learners and improve access to child care for migrant farmworkers.
Assembly Bill 1363
AB 1363, authored by Assemblymember Luz Rivas, makes California the first in the nation to create a standardized process to identify dual-language learners in state preschools. Students would be able to receive programs and services to develop both their home language and English.
"We're going to be telling these young four-year-olds that speaking another language makes them more competitive in the future in the global workforce," Rivas said during the press conference.
It will also allow state policymakers to make better-informed decisions for early learning programs to nurture and develop multi-lingual children. Early Edge California says 60% of children through the age of 5 speak a language other than English at home.
Senate Bill 393
Gov. Newsom also signed SB 393 into law, which modifies the Migrant Childcare Alternative Payment Program (MCAP) to align with other voucher-vased programs. MCAP was initially established with a set number of slots for children. Voucher-based childcare programs have no set numbers to accommodate for the fluctuating number of migrant workers.
"As a child, I grew up taking care and looking after my younger siblings. And that's the reality of a lot of children here across the Central Valley," said Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger), author of SB 393.
Migrant workers must sign up for the program through six counties (Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Tulare, and Fresno). They can then use those vouchers wherever they move to work in the state.
California Comeback Plan
Gov. Newsom also highlighted his $123.9 billion education package, part of his California Comeback Plan signed in July.
The package will provide free pre-kindergarten to all four-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year. The plan will also aim to reduce class sizes to an average of 1 adult for every 12 children, down from 24. There are expected to be 200,000 new child care slots by 2025-26.
The package also invests $1.9 billion to help start college savings accounts for 3.7 million low-income students, English learners and foster and homeless youth when they enter first grade.
Another $10 million will go toward expanding dual-language immersion programs.