Katie Kurutz-Ulloa | First 5 LA Communications Specialist

January 28, 2021

In early December 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration announced the release of the state’s 112-page Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, a visioning document and 10-year roadmap to improve supports for California’s youngest children. With multiple components, the plan’s primary aim is to increase access to early care and education, but also has components aimed at supporting the “whole child.” The plan will be a guiding document for the state for many years to come.

Newsom announced his intentions to develop the Plan early on in his governorship, stating that it would do for the state what the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education had done so many years ago for college age residents — establish affordable, publicly accessible education, but this time for young children. “We’re looking forward to being around for the long haul over the course of the next many years as we build out the architecture to provide that universal access,” said Newsom about the effort.

The first step in developing the Plan was the creation of the Early Childhood Action Research Team, which was charged with ensuring the development and delivery of the report by October 1, 2020.  Newsom’s office announced the official creation of the Action Team in November of 2019, which included members of respected California-based organizations like Child Trends, RAND, Parent Voices, American Institutes for Research, Stanford University’s School of Education, and others. He also announced the creation of an Early Childhood Policy Council, which would serve in an advisory role in the creation of the Plan.

Led by education think tank West Ed, the Action Team, despite the global pandemic, spent the majority of 2020 developing the plan. Building on prior work by the state’s Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education, as well as the Lifting Children Out of Poverty Task Force and the Rate Reform Work Group, the Action Team also engaged partners and parent groups to inform the Plan. The pandemic did cause some disruption to the original target due date of October 1, 2020; however the Action Team and West Ed were able to publish the document just two months later on December 1, 2020.

Since its release, the Plan has been met with mixed reactions from California’s early child development leaders. With its heavy emphasis on increasing preschool and transitional kindergarten availability, some expressed disappointment that the Plan did not address the immediate needs of the state’s child care sector which has suffered amid the pandemic. Others shared concerns over the lack of a budget commitment, although in his January budget announcement, Newsom did propose a $500 million investment toward the long-term goal of universal preschool.

However, some elements of the Plan, like a focus on Dual Language Learning and Paid Parental Leave, have garnered praise. Overall, advocates are looking at the document, along with the state budget, as a signal of the state’s continued commitment to young children. To help our readers better understand California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, we have assembled a compilation of articles and opinion pieces that explore the elements of the Plan and what it might mean for the future of the state’s children. We hope these pieces help give insight into how to view and engage in conversation about the document.

Early Mentions of the Master Plan

EdSource: California governor expands commitments to young children, low-income families
Governor adds funds and moves along master plan to overhaul state’s early childhood programs. (Stavely, 5/10/19)

EdSource: California needs a master plan for early childhood
Gov. Newsom committed a $2.5 billion-dollar total investment in early childhood in the 2019-20 budget, focused on the whole child, and composed of new one-time funds and ongoing funding. That is something we should all be praising. (Lozano, Alvarez, and Moore, 10/7/19)

Announcement of the Early Childhood Action Research Team

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom: Governor Newsom Announces Early Childhood Policy Council and a Team to Develop Master Plan for Early Learning and Care

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the selection of diverse experts, practitioners and parents to guide California’s efforts on early learning and care. (11/22/2019)

EdSource: Parents, other experts named to guide California’s early education reforms

Newsom announced appointments Friday to two groups that will help expand access to early childhood education. The first is a group of nine organizations that will select representatives to develop a Master Plan for Early Learning and Care by next year.  (Stavely, 11/25/2019)

Announcement of The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care

LAist: Coming Soon: A Master Plan For California Child Care And Early Learning 
It’s the latest in a decades-long effort to improve child care and development programs for California’s kids. It has been touted as the next step toward universal preschool in the state — but that was before the coronavirus pandemic took a big bite out of California’s budget reserves. (Hurley, 11/17/20)

Office of Governor Gavin Newsom: Governor Newsom Releases the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: California for All Kids

Recommendations include expanding access to paid family leave, providing universal preschool for all 4-year-olds and income eligible 3-year-olds and prohibiting suspensions and expulsions in subsidized early learning programs. (12/1/2020)

The Los Angeles Times: California unveiled a blueprint for the future of early education. Critics say it’s built on shaky ground
After months of delays and pandemic upheaval, California officials on Tuesday released the long-awaited Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, a 113-page blueprint to remodel the state’s Byzantine child-care system and dramatically expand public preschool. (Sharp, 12/1/20)

EdSource: Inside California’s new master plan to reshape early education and child care
California’s long-awaited roadmap to reshape early childhood care and education in the state took a critical first step on Tuesday with the release of a first-ever 10-year master plan, but some advocates say more specifics are needed to ensure progress. (D’Souza, 12/1/20)

LAist: Future California Might Have Universal Preschool, But It Will Take Billions (For Starters)
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ambitions to expand California’s early care and learning programs are outlined and explained in a strategic plan that was released today. (Dale, 12/1/20)

CalMatters: New plan for children offers comprehensive system to meet learning needs
California’s new “Master Plan for Early Learning and Care” creates an equitable and inclusive Early Learning and Care system for all children. (Lozano & Alvarez, 12/3/20)

LAist: A 10-Year Plan For Early Childhood In California With Uncertain Next Steps
“I think the streamlining eligibility for programs is an example of ‘how do we make this support easier for parents to navigate complex resources’ to support their child’s development,” said First 5 LA senior vice president Christina Altmayer, one of the plan’s contributors. (Dale, 12/4/20)
Also featured on KPCC Take Two (Minute 22:01)

KTLA: Critics say California’s new blueprint for the future of early education is built on shaky ground
After months of delays and pandemic upheaval, California officials on Tuesday released the long-awaited Master Plan for Early Learning and Care, a 113-page blueprint to remodel the state’s Byzantine child-care system and dramatically expand public preschool. (Sharp, 12/4/20)

EdSource: Preschoolers learning English need to be identified, supported, says California’s master plan
Young children whose first language is Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic or another language other than English could get more help in becoming bilingual in child care and preschool under California’s new Master Plan for Early Learning and Care. (Stavely, 12/4/2020)

EdSource: New Master Plan for early learning points way to California for all
As public servants and mothers whose life work is dedicated to maximizing the potential in all children from birth through young adulthood, we stand together as partners in an effort to transform how we provide every infant, toddler and preschooler a successful start that carries them through school and life. (Darling-Hammond & Johnson, 12/7/20)

CalMatters: Will Newsom mend the gaps in state’s new plan for early learning?
California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care is a “starting point,” but many advocates point to serious gaps that need to be fixed. (Karpilow, 12/9/20)

EdSource: Another step toward universal preschool in California?
Long a goal of early childhood advocates, universal preschool came a step closer to becoming reality this week. (D’Souza, 12/10/20)

EdSource Podcast: What’s next for the new early education Master Plan?

The 112-page report from the Newsom administration outlines plans to expand preschool, child care and paid family leave, and boost pay and training for the early childhood workers over the next decade. (12/11/20)

EdSource: How California plans to increase access to Paid Family Leave to support early childhood
California became the first state in the nation to offer parents Paid Family Leave in 2014. Now, more than a quarter million parents use this lifeline to take care of their newborn babies every year. (D’Souza, 12/14/20)

EdSource: It’s time we gave women and young children their due
California’s Master Plan for Early Learning and Care may seem at first glance like an overly forward-looking plan in this time of urgent need. (Simons, 12/17/20)

January Budget Announcement and The Plan

LAist: California Budget Proposal Expands Transitional Kindergarten, But Does Little To Support Child Care Industry In Crisis
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal calls for a $500 million investment toward the long-term goal of universal preschool, but promises little immediate relief for parents and providers struggling to operate during the pandemic and lacks critical details on how the state will spend new federal dollars for child care. (Dale, 1/8/21)
Also featured in The Los Angeles Times (Multiple Authors, 1/9/21), EdSource (D’Sousa, 1/8/21)

New America: California Governor Proposes Expanding Public Pre-K, Dollars for School Reopening

As schools face enormous challenges, a new budget proposal in California brings the possibility of investment crucially needed for young children. (Jackson, 1/24/21)