Code Section Group

Education Code - EDC


  ( Title 1 enacted by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010. )


  ( Division 1 enacted by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010. )


  ( Part 6 enacted by Stats. 1976, Ch. 1010. )

CHAPTER 2. Early Education Act [8200 - 8488]

  ( Heading of Chapter 2 amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 1. )

ARTICLE 1. General Provisions [1600 - 1976]
  ( Article 1 repealed and added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 798, Sec. 2. )


This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Early Education Act.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 2. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


The purpose of this chapter is as follows:

(a) To provide an inclusive and cost-effective preschool program that provides high-quality learning experiences, coordinated services, and referrals for families to access health and social-emotional support services through full- and part-day programs.

(b) To encourage community-level coordination in support of preschool and early childhood services.

(c) To provide an inclusive, developmentally appropriate, and culturally and linguistically responsive preschool environment that is nurturing for all children in the programs.

(d) To provide family engagement activities that support positive parenting practices and enhance understanding of human growth and development.

(e) To promote strengthening families and access to resources that prevent and address child abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

(f) To support the cognitive and social emotional development of all children, including children with exceptional needs, children experiencing developmental delays, and children experiencing trauma.

(g) To promote and support home language and development of multilingual capabilities to ensure all children attain their full potential.

(h) To establish a framework that promotes equitable access to quality early learning experiences through the expansion of preschool services.

(i) To empower parents and family choice by providing information and resources for choosing a high-quality preschool program that meets the needs of the family.

(j) To inform parents and families of their right to understand and evaluate the quality and health and safety requirements of the preschool program.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 3. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


It is the intent of the Legislature that:

(a) All families have equitable access to a high-quality preschool program, regardless of race or ethnic status, cultural, religious, or linguistic background, family composition, or children with exceptional needs. It is further the intent that subsidized preschool services be provided to persons meeting the eligibility criteria established under this chapter to the extent funding is made available by the Legislature and Congress.

(b) The physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth and development of preschool children be supported in a healthy, developmentally, and culturally appropriate manner.

(c) Families are supported to seek opportunities through employment, training, and education to attain financial stability, while maximizing learning opportunities for their children through participation in preschool programs.

(d) Local- and community-level coordination of various funding streams and programs to support preschool services and preschool to third-grade alignment.

(e) Programs allow for maximum involvement of families in planning, implementation, operation, and evaluation of preschool programs, recognizing that parent and family engagement is integral to the well-being of the child.

(f) Parents and families be fully informed of their rights and responsibilities to evaluate the quality and safety of preschool programs, including, but not limited to, their right to inspect childcare licensing files.

(g) Planning for expansion of preschool programs based on ongoing, coordinated, and comprehensive local needs assessments and other state-level data.

(h) Support for staff, including administrators, program directors, site supervisors, and teachers, to reduce bias through professional development opportunities.

(i) Investments in preschool programs be leveraged to improve equity and reduce the opportunity gap through a targeted universalism approach.

(j) Preschool programs provide fully inclusive early learning experiences that contribute to closing the school readiness gap, especially for children from low-income families, children with exceptional needs, and children who are dual language learners, and partner with elementary schools to support smooth transitions and sustain early learning gains.

(k) The Superintendent of Public Instruction, in providing funding to agencies offering preschool programs, promote a range of services that will allow parents the opportunity to choose the type of care most suited to their needs. The program scope may include the following:

(1) Programs located in childcare centers or family childcare homes.

(2) Services provided part day or full day.

(l) The Superintendent of Public Instruction be responsible for the establishment of a public hearing process or other public input process that ensures the participation of those agencies directly affected by a particular section or sections of this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 4. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall develop standards for the implementation of high-quality preschool programs. Indicators of quality shall include, but not be limited to:

(a) A physical environment that is safe and appropriate for preschool children and that meets applicable licensing standards.

(b) Program activities and services that are age appropriate for preschool children and meet the developmental needs of each child.

(c) Program activities and services that meet the cultural and linguistic needs of children and families.

(d) Family engagement including, but not limited to, opportunities to participate on parent advisory committees and parent education.

(e) Community engagement, coordination, and local partnerships that support successful transitions from preschool to the early elementary grades.

(f) Efficient and effective local program administration.

(g) Staff that possesses the appropriate and required qualifications or experience, or both. The appropriate staff qualifications shall reflect the diverse linguistic and cultural makeup of the children and families in the preschool program. The use of intergenerational staff shall be encouraged.

(h) The promotion of inclusive experiences through program activities and support for parents to access services that meet the needs of children with exceptional needs and their families.

(i) Support services for children, families, and early learning staff and administrators.

(j) Program activities that support equity by eliminating implicit bias, exclusionary discipline practices, and discrimination through staff development and training.

(k) Provision for nutritional needs of children, including nutrition education at preschool and, when appropriate, shared resource for families.

(l) Social services that include, but are not limited to, identification of child and family needs and referral to appropriate agencies.

(m) Health services that include referral of children to appropriate agencies for services.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 5. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


(a) The Superintendent shall administer a QRIS block grant, pursuant to an appropriation made for that purpose in the annual Budget Act, to be allocated to local consortia for support of local early learning quality rating and improvement systems that increase the number of low-income children in high-quality preschool programs that prepare those children for success in school and life.

(b) (1) For purposes of this section, “early learning quality rating and improvement system” or “QRIS” is defined as a locally determined system for continuous quality improvement based on a tiered rating structure with progressively higher quality standards for each tier that provides supports and incentives for programs, teachers, and administrators to reach higher levels of quality, monitors and evaluates the impacts on child outcomes, and disseminates information to parents and the public about program quality.

(2) For purposes of this section, “local consortium” is defined as a local or regional entity, administered by a lead agency, that convenes a planning body that designs and implements a QRIS. A local consortium shall include representatives from organizations including, but not limited to, all of the following:

(A) Local educational agencies.

(B) First 5 county commissions.

(C) Higher educational institutions.

(D) Local childcare and development planning councils.

(E) Local resource and referral agencies.

(F) Alternative payment programs.

(G) Other local agencies, as appropriate, which may include, but are not limited to, nonprofit organizations, that provide services to children from birth to five years of age, inclusive, tribal representatives, childcare licensing regional offices, special education local plan area, the county social services department, the local public health department, the local behavioral health department, regional centers, and Head Start and Early Head Start grantees.

(3) For purposes of this section, “quality continuum framework” means the tiered rating matrix created and adopted by a local consortium for purposes of implementing a QRIS. The tiered rating matrix shall include three common tiers shared by all participating local consortia. Changes to the common tiers shall be approved and adopted by all participating local consortia.

(c) The QRIS block grant shall build on local consortia and other local QRIS work in existence on or before the operative date of this section.

(d) For the 2014–15 fiscal year, if a county or region has an established local consortium that has adopted a quality continuum framework, the local consortium’s lead administering agency shall be provided the first opportunity to apply for a QRIS block grant.

(e) Local consortia shall do all of the following to be eligible for a QRIS block grant:

(1) Implement a QRIS that incorporates evidence-based elements and tools in the quality continuum framework that are tailored to the local conditions and enhanced with local resources.

(2) Set ambitious yet achievable targets for California state preschool program contracting agencies’ participation in the QRIS with the goal of achieving the highest common tier, as the tier existed on June 1, 2014, or a higher level of quality.

(3) Develop an action plan that includes a continuous quality improvement process that is tied to improving child outcomes.

(4) Describe how QRIS block grant funds will be used to increase the number of sites achieving the highest common local tier and to directly support classrooms that have achieved the highest common tier, as that tier existed on June 1, 2014, or a higher level of quality.

(5) Develop information and resources that help families understand why preschool matters and how to identify a quality preschool program that meets the needs of the family.

(f) The Superintendent, in consultation with the executive director of the state board, shall allocate QRIS block grant funds to local consortia that satisfy the requirements of subdivision (e) based on the number of California state preschool program slots within the county or region.

(g) (1) Local consortia receiving QRIS block grant funds shall allocate those funds to contracting agencies of the California state preschool program, as established by Article 2 (commencing with Section 8207), or local educational agencies, for activities that support and improve quality, and assess quality and access. In allocating the QRIS block grant funds, priority shall be given to directly supporting the classrooms of the California state preschool program sites that have achieved the highest common local tier of quality.

(2) No more than 20 percent of a local consortium’s QRIS block grant funds may be used for assessment and access projects.

(h) A family childcare home education network that provides California state preschool program services shall be eligible for an allocation from a local consortium of QRIS block grant funds for activities that support, improve, and assess quality.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 6. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


(a) The department, in consultation with the State Department of Social Services, shall maintain and update the prekindergarten learning development guidelines. The guidelines shall focus on preparing four- and five-year-old children for kindergarten. The guidelines shall identify appropriate developmental milestones for each age, how to assess where children are in relation to the milestones, and suggested methods for achieving the milestones. In addition, the guidelines shall identify any basic beginning skills needed to prepare children for kindergarten or first grade, and methods for teaching these basic skills. The guidelines shall be articulated with the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education for kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive. The department may contract with an appropriate public or private agency to develop the guidelines.

(b) In future expenditure plans for quality improvement activities, the State Department of Social Services shall include funding for periodically updating the guidelines consistent with academic and performance standards and relevant research, broadly distributing the guidelines, and providing education, outreach, and training services to implement the guidelines.

(c) Programs funded by the department under this chapter shall use the prekindergarten learning development guidelines developed pursuant to this section.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 7. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


(a) The Superintendent shall ensure that each contract entered into under this chapter to provide preschool services, or to facilitate the provision of those services, provides support to the public school system of this state through the delivery of appropriate educational services to the children served pursuant to the contract.

(b) The Superintendent shall ensure that all contracts for preschool programs include a requirement that each public or private provider maintain a developmental profile to appropriately identify the emotional, social, physical, and cognitive growth of each child served in order to promote the child’s success in the public schools. To the extent possible, the department shall provide a developmental profile to all public and private providers using existing profile instruments that are most cost efficient. The provider of any program operated pursuant to a contract under Section 8233 shall be responsible for maintaining developmental profiles upon entry through exit from a child development program.

(c) This section is not subject to Part 34 (commencing with Section 62000) of Division 4 of Title 2.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 8. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


In recognition of the demonstrated relationship between food and good nutrition and the capacity of children to develop and learn, it is the policy of this state that no child shall be hungry while in attendance in a preschool facility, as defined in Section 8205, and that preschool programs have an obligation to provide for the nutritional needs of children in attendance.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 9. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


As used in this chapter:

(a) “Applicant or contracting agency” means a school district, community college district, college or university, county superintendent of schools, county, city, public agency, private nontax-exempt agency, private tax-exempt agency, or other entity that is authorized to establish, maintain, or operate services pursuant to this chapter. Private agencies and parent cooperatives, duly licensed by law, shall receive the same consideration as any other authorized entity with no loss of parental decisionmaking prerogatives as consistent with the provisions of this chapter.

(b) “Assigned reimbursement rate” is that rate established by the contract with the agency and is derived by dividing the total dollar amount of the contract by the minimum child day of average daily enrollment level of service required.

(c) “Attendance” means the number of children present at a preschool facility. “Attendance,” for purposes of reimbursement, includes excused absences by children because of illness, quarantine, illness or quarantine of their parent, family emergency, or to spend time with a parent or other relative as required by a court of law or that is clearly in the best interest of the child.

(d) “Capital outlay” means the amount paid for the renovation and repair of childcare and development and preschool facilities to comply with state and local health and safety standards, and the amount paid for the state purchase of relocatable childcare and development and preschool facilities for lease to qualifying contracting agencies.

(e) “Preschool facility” means a residence or building or part thereof in which preschool services are provided.

(f) “Early childhood programs” means those programs that offer a full range of services for children from infancy to 13 years of age, for any part of a day, by a public, private, or proprietary agency, in centers and family childcare homes.

(g) “Children at risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation” means children who are so identified in a written referral from a legal, medical, or social service agency, or emergency shelter.

(h) “Children with exceptional needs” means either of the following:

(1) Children under three years of age who have been determined to be eligible for early intervention services pursuant to the California Early Intervention Services Act (Title 14 (commencing with Section 95000) of the Government Code) and its implementing regulations. These children include an infant or toddler with a developmental delay or established risk condition, or who is at high risk of having a substantial developmental disability, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 95014 of the Government Code. These children shall have active individualized family service plans, shall be receiving early intervention services, and shall be children who require the special attention of adults in a childcare setting.

(2) Children 3 to 21 years of age, inclusive, who have been determined to be eligible for special education and related services by an individualized education program team according to the special education requirements contained in Part 30 (commencing with Section 56000) of Division 4 of Title 2, and who meet eligibility criteria described in Section 56026 and, Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 56333) of Chapter 4 of Part 30 of Division 4 of Title 2, and Sections 3030 and 3031 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. These children shall have an active individualized education program, shall be receiving early intervention services or appropriate special education and related services, and shall be children who require the special attention of adults in a childcare setting. These children include children with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments (including deafness), speech or language impairments, visual impairments (including blindness), serious emotional disturbance (also referred to as emotional disturbance), orthopedic impairments, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities, who need special education and related services consistent with Section 1401(3)(A) of Title 20 of the United States Code.

(i) “Cost” includes, but is not limited to, expenditures that are related to the operation of preschool programs. “Cost” may include a reasonable amount for state and local contributions to employee benefits, including approved retirement programs, agency administration, and any other reasonable program operational costs. “Cost” may also include amounts for licensable facilities in the community served by the program, including lease payments or depreciation, downpayments, and payments of principal and interest on loans incurred to acquire, rehabilitate, or construct licensable facilities, but these costs shall not exceed fair market rents existing in the community in which the facility is located. “Reasonable and necessary costs” are costs that, in nature and amount, do not exceed what an ordinary prudent person would incur in the conduct of a competitive business.

(j) “Elementary school,” as contained in former Section 425 of Title 20 of the United States Code (the National Defense Education Act of 1958, Public Law 85-864, as amended), includes early childhood education programs and all child development programs, for the purpose of the cancellation provisions of loans to students in institutions of higher learning.

(k) “Family childcare home education network” means an entity organized under law that contracts with the department to make payments to licensed family childcare home providers and to provide educational and support services to those providers and to children and families eligible for California state preschool program services.

(l) “Health services” include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

(1) Referral, whenever possible, to appropriate health care providers able to provide continuity of medical care.

(2) Health screening and health treatment, including a full range of immunization recorded on the appropriate state immunization form to the extent provided by the Medi-Cal Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 14000) of Part 3 of Division 9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code) and the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program (Article 6 (commencing with Section 124025) of Chapter 3 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code), but only to the extent that ongoing care cannot be obtained utilizing community resources.

(3) Health education and training for children, parents, staff, and providers.

(4) Followup treatment through referral to appropriate health care agencies or individual health care professionals.

(m) “Higher educational institutions” means the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, and the governing bodies of any accredited private nonprofit institution of postsecondary education.

(n) “Intergenerational staff” means persons of various generations.

(o) “Dual language learner children” means children whose first language is a language other than English or children who are developing two or more languages, one of which may be English.

(p) “Parent” means a biological parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, foster parent, caretaker relative, or any other adult living with a child who has responsibility for the care and welfare of the child.

(q) “Program director” means a person who, pursuant to Section 8298, is qualified to serve as a program director.

(r) “Proprietary agency” means an organization or facility providing preschool, which is operated for profit.

(s) “Children with severe disabilities” are children with exceptional needs from birth to 21 years of age, inclusive, who require intensive instruction and training in programs serving pupils with the following profound disabilities: autism, blindness, deafness, severe orthopedic impairments, serious emotional disturbances, or severe intellectual disabilities. “Children with severe disabilities” also include those individuals who would have been eligible for enrollment in a developmental center for handicapped pupils under Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 56800) of Part 30 of Division 4 of Title 2 as it read on January 1, 1980.

(t) (1) “Site supervisor” means a person who, regardless of their title, has operational program responsibility for an early childhood program at a single site.

(2) A site supervisor shall satisfy one of the following:

(A) Hold a permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing that authorizes supervision of a childcare and development program operating in a single site.

(B) Hold an administrative credential or an administrative services credential issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

(C) Meet the qualifications of a program director under Section 8298.

(3) The Superintendent may waive the requirements of this subdivision if the Superintendent determines that the existence of compelling need is appropriately documented.

(u) “Standard reimbursement rate” means the reimbursement rate applicable to California state preschool programs pursuant to Section 8242.

(v) “Startup costs” means those expenses an agency incurs in the process of opening a new or additional facility before the full enrollment of children.

(w) “California state preschool program” means those programs that offer part-day or full-day, or both, educational programs for eligible three- and four-year-old children. These programs may be offered by a public, private, or proprietary agency, and operated in childcare centers or family childcare homes operating through a family childcare home education network.

(x) “Support services” means those services that, when combined with preschool services, help promote the healthy physical, mental, social, and emotional growth of children. Support services may include, but are not limited to: protective services, parent training, provider and staff training, transportation, parent and child counseling, child development resource and referral services, and child placement counseling.

(y) “Teacher” means a person with the appropriate permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing who provides program supervision and instruction that includes supervision of a number of aides, volunteers, and groups of children.

(z) “Underserved area” means a county or subcounty area, including, but not limited to, school districts, census tracts, or ZIP Code areas, where the ratio of publicly subsidized preschool program services to the need for these services is low, as determined by the Superintendent.

(aa) “Three-year-old children” means children who will have their third birthday on or before December 1 of the fiscal year in which they are enrolled in a California state preschool program. Children who have their third birthday on or after December 2 of the fiscal year, may be enrolled in a California state preschool program on or after their third birthday. Any child under four years of age shall be served in a California state preschool program facility, licensed in accordance with Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations.

(ab) “Four-year-old children” means children who will have their fourth birthday on or before December 1 of the fiscal year in which they are enrolled in a California state preschool program, or a child whose fifth birthday occurs after September 1 of the fiscal year in which they are enrolled in a California state preschool and whose parent or guardian has opted to retain or enroll them in a California state preschool program.

(ac) “Homeless children and youth” has the same meaning as defined in Section 11434a(2) of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 11301 et seq.).

(ad) “Local educational agency” means a school district, a county office of education, a community college district, or a school district acting on behalf of one or more schools within the school district.

(Added by renumbering Section 8208 by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 17. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)


(a) If a state of emergency is declared by the Governor, the Superintendent may waive any requirements of this code or regulations adopted pursuant to this code relating to preschool programs operated pursuant to this chapter only to the extent that enforcement of the regulations or requirements would directly impede disaster relief and recovery efforts or would disrupt the current level of service in preschool programs.

(b) A waiver granted pursuant to subdivision (a) shall not exceed 45 calendar days.

(c) For purposes of this section, “state of emergency” includes, but is not limited to, fire, flood, earthquake, or a period of civil unrest.

(d) If a request for a waiver pursuant to subdivision (a) is for a childcare and development program, preschool program, or child nutrition program that receives federal funds and the waiver may be inconsistent with the state plan or any federal law or regulations governing the program, the Superintendent shall seek and obtain approval of the waiver from the appropriate federal agency before granting the waiver.

(e) (1) From July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, inclusive, due to the ongoing impacts of childcare and development facility closures and low child attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health directives, the Superintendent shall reimburse a contracting agency for a California state preschool program pursuant to former Article 7 (commencing with Section 8235), a general childcare and development program pursuant to former Article 8 (commencing with Section 8240), a family childcare home education network pursuant to former Article 8.5 (commencing with Section 8245), a migrant childcare and development program pursuant to former Article 6 (commencing with Section 8230), or childcare and development services for children with special needs pursuant to former Article 9 (commencing with Section 8250) that meets one of the following requirements:

(A) The program operated by the contracting agency opens by September 8, 2020, or within 21 calendar days from the start date of the contracting agency’s 2020–21 program calendar approved by the department, whichever is sooner, and remains open and offering services through the 2020–21 program year.

(B) The program operated by the contracting agency is closed by local or state public health order or guidance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

(C) (i) The program operates on the campus of a local educational agency that is closed by local or state public health guidance or order and the local educational agency has required the early learning and care program to close.

(ii) To ensure continuity of care and access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the governing board or body of the local educational agency requiring a closure pursuant to clause (i) shall discuss in a public hearing and prepare a plan for safely reopening early learning and care programs as soon as safely possible, but no later than when local education agency campuses open for in-person instruction.

(2) Reimbursement pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be 100 percent of the contract maximum reimbursable amount or net reimbursable program costs, whichever is less, pursuant to guidance released by the Superintendent.

(3) A childcare program specified in paragraph (1) that is physically closed pursuant to subparagraph (B) or (C) of paragraph (1) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but funded to be operational, shall provide distance learning services as specified by the Superintendent. A contractor specified in paragraph (1) shall submit a distance learning plan to the department pursuant to guidance from the Superintendent.

(Added by renumbering Section 8209 by Stats. 2021, Ch. 116, Sec. 21. (AB 131) Effective July 23, 2021.)

EDCEducation Code - EDC1.