Legislation Introduced to Establish Department of Early Child Development

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Sacramento – Assemblymember Eloise Reyes (D-San Bernardino) Chair of the Assembly Human Services Committee introduced AB 2581, which establishes under the umbrella of the California Health and Human Services Agency, a new Department of Early Childhood Development (DECD).  This new department would centralize the state’s administration and leadership of early child development policies and programs.  It will further centralize, and build, a coherent and whole person early learning and care system to improve the service delivery for children, families, and providers by maximizing federal, state, and local resources.

“The current nature of California’s early childhood education requires a variety of state departments, a mixed methods delivery system, and the inclusion of a diverse array of stakeholders with varied needs,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “With a strong, centralized governance structure for all early learning and care programs, California can begin to more effectively and efficiently support children, families, and providers in our early learning and care programs.  AB 2581 creates the Department of Early Childhood Development to house all early learning and care program, which help support the healthy development of California’s children, supports their families in the process, and uplift the providers who care for them.  This new Department will be the driving mechanism of enhancing access and equity for all of California’s children, families, and providers.”

“Early Edge California is pleased to sponsor AB 2581 to advance the Governor's goal of improving access to quality early learning and care programs for California families and children. By establishing a multi-agency work group to begin integrating critical programs that serve the whole child and the whole family, AB 2581 will ensure that families, children, and providers do not go without the support they need. We are especially pleased that the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education report is informing the best path forward. We can’t go wrong when we focus on what’s best for children and their families while supporting the professionals who serve them,” said Patricia Lozano, Executive Director of Early Edge California.

The California State Assembly Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) released its draft recommendations on March 11, 2019.  The report identified amongst its findings the need for a strong centralized office to direct inter-agency coordination, support parent and provider needs within childcare settings, and implement the growing expansion of Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs.  Furthermore, because of the multi-agency nature of ECE programs, many families end up having interruptions in the programs their children can attend due to the lack of efficient paperwork transfers and communication between state agencies, county agencies, and the family.

In addition to creating DECD, AB 2581 creates an interagency working group made up of  the directors of the DECD, California Department of Education, and representatives from the California Department of Public Health, the California Department of Health Care Services, the California Department of Developmental Services, and the California Department of Social Services.  Further, AB 2581 provides that the working group shall build on the work of the 2019 California Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education’s Final Report, the strategic plan for the Preschool Development Grant, and the state’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care to continue to expand and enhance California’s service delivery, and overall alignment across other departments and agencies.