California’s Educational Code states that families who meet certain requirements are eligible for federal and state subsidized child development services, such as child care and preschool. The requirements to qualify are based on criteria including income and need of the family.
Under existing law, parents that meet income criteria and are engaged in vocational training courses leading directly to a trade or profession are eligible for state supported child care services. However, current legislation doesn’t specify that courses in English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or High School Equivalency Certificate (HSE) can be consider as a type of vocational training under programs funded by the California Department of Education.
Parents that are taking classes to improve their English language proficiency or working to earn their HSE certificate are taking foundational steps needed to enter vocational training, but usually don’t qualify for subsidized child care for their children because related legislation is not clear.
Many families require state supported child care services in order to continue with their education and work towards a profession. Costly child care services may prove burdensome for lower income families, disproportionately impacting single mothers and women of color.
According to the California Budget & Policy Center, in 2015, the average single-mother could expect to spend over two-thirds of her income to cover the cost of child care.
EdSource, a policy and research nonprofit, reports that a lack of access to quality early learning experiences not only widens the achievement gap for children of color, but also contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Additionally, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports that 29% of immigrants in California live in households where no one older than age 13 speaks English “very well.” Among immigrants with less than high school diplomas, 67% speak English “not at all” or “not well.”
It is well documented that individuals who are proficient in English have higher occupational mobility, with better job prospects and the opportunity to earn higher wages. Parents are also better prepared to support their children as they enter the K-12 system.
Ensuring opportunity to access to state child care services for those enrolled in ESL and HSE courses promises increased socioeconomic mobility for both parents and their children.