California Legislature’s Budget Proposal Includes Funding for Child Care Meals

Published on Jun 2, 2021 in Child Nutrition, State Legislation, Young Children

On Tuesday, leaders in both houses of the Legislature announced early agreement on the state budget. The Legislature’s proposal includes critical investments to support child care meal service, including one time COVID-19 relief to account for the increased cost of serving food during the pandemic and ongoing funding to supplement the cost of serving child care meals. Now, negotiations turn to the Governor as the Assembly and Senate work to reach final agreement with Newsom before a June 15th deadline.

We applaud Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Nancy Skinner, Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon for reaching early agreement and this historic investment towards ending child hunger. We also thank Senators Becker, Hurtado and Limón for helping champion the funding.

$15.03 million in on-going funding for child care meals

The Legislature’s proposal includes $15.03 million in on-going funding for meals served in child care and early education programs and provides a cost of living adjustment for the program. California’s K-12 schools have long received dedicated state funding (~24 cents per meal) to help make up the difference between federal reimbursements and California’s high costs of meal service, but no state meal subsidies are available to child care programs who serve our youngest learners. This action would bring parity to child care meals, something advocates have long pushed for.

$33 million in one time COVID relief

The Budget deal also includes $33 million in one-time federal funds for pandemic-related nutrition costs. California’s child care programs continue to work on the front lines of the pandemic to make sure our youngest learners and even school-aged kids are nourished, but have yet to see any state relief. The reopening process has increased costs for meal programs and many programs are operating at a deficit to continue serving meals. The legislature provided fiscal relief for school meal service during the pandemic and this action would extend similar support to child care programs.

Historic investments in early childhood education

The proposal also calls for historic investments in early childhood education including 200,000 new child care spaces, updating the child care provider reimbursement rates with a $1.1 billion investment and cost of living adjustment, and waiving family fees through 2023.

What's next?

While today's news brings us one step closer to our goal, our work is far from finished. We need to let Governor Newsom know that investments in child care meals is a priority that can't wait. We also need to weigh in with leaders in the Senate and Assembly and encourage them to keep fighting for this critical investment. Take 5 minutes to call and email the Governor and state budget leaders. We only have a few weeks to push our shared goal over the finish line. Don't wait, make your voice heard today!