Recipients of TR-538-PF/WKKF/PEW/NIEER/WCJVSF/LAUP, Early Care and Education in the
Golden State: Publicly Funded Programs Serving California’s Preschool-Age Children
From: RAND Corporation Publications Department
Date: January 2008
Corrected pages (pp. 118–121)
The authors identified factual errors in the originally published document in Tables 6.3 and 6.4 on pp. 119 and
120 which affects related text on pp. 118–121. The errors have no effect on the inferences or conclusions from
the report. The currently posted document has been corrected.
In Table 6.3 on page 119, FCCH was added to the provider types listed for San Mateo. In Table 6.4 on
page 120, the reimbursement tier based on environment rating scores was added for San Mateo, the reimbursement tier based on group sizes and adult-child ratios was removed from Los Angeles, and the reimbursement
tier based on other program features was removed from Los Angeles and San Diego.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Table 6.2—Funding for PFA/POP Initiatives in Four Case Study Counties
Funding measure
Los Angeles
San Mateo
First 5 California POP award
million over
5 years
million over
5 years
million over
5 years
million over
5 years
Multi-year funding commitment from local
First 5 Commission
million over
6 years
million over
5 years
million over
5 years
million over
3 years
Funding for PFA in 2006–07
SOURCE: See Appendixes B to E.
Even though the overall goal is universal access, in the initial stages, the PFA
expansion sites in the four counties were selected because they represented
communities with high need as indicated by, for example, a high percentage of
low API schools, high rates of eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch, a high
fraction of English learners, and/or low participation rates in or capacity to
deliver early childhood programs. This approach was also one of the
specifications of the First 5 California POP demonstration projects. Los Angeles is
an interesting case with its approach for identifying 13 areas, or “hot zones,”
with greatest need based on the gap between potential preschool participation
and available spaces. These areas were further divided into priority tiers to target
those zip codes with low API schools, a large absolute number of children not
being served, and a low rate of preschool participation.
In each of the four case study counties, the PFA initiatives provide funding for
new or upgraded fully subsidized part-day preschool program slots in existing
publicly subsidized programs (e.g., Head Start, State Preschool, General CCD),
and, in some, cases private providers who receive no public subsidies may
participate as well. Wrap-around care may be offered by some providers with
the addition of parent fees. In all four counties, participating providers may
include both center-based programs and family child care homes (see Table 6.3).
The incremental nature of the preschool expansion efforts is also reflected in the
number of children served. Table 6.3 reports figures for the most recent period
available in each of the counties.
Table 6.3—Service Measures for PFA/POP Initiatives in Four Case Study Counties
Service feature
Initial service areas
Provider types
Los Angeles
San Mateo
34 zip
6 school
6 communities
2 school
June 2007
Children served
Date of measurement
Total (N)
Upgraded slots (N)
New slots (N)
SOURCE: See Appendixes B to E.
NOTES: C = centers, FCCH = family child care homes.
This figure is exclusive of new spaces under construction.
Notably, with the exception of Los Angeles County, 75 percent or more of
children are being served in upgraded slots rather than in newly created slots. In
Los Angeles County, the total spaces are almost evenly divided between
upgraded and new slots. The scale of the effort in Los Angeles County is also
considerably larger than the other three counties. Across the four counties, the
expansion efforts have generated a total of about 4,700 new spaces.
A central focus of the PFA program in each of the case study counties is raising
the quality of existing subsidized preschool programs and ensuring high-quality
care and education in newly created slots. This was also a focus of the POP
requirements as specified by First 5 California. In order to participate in the
county PFA/POP program, providers in all four counties must meet minimum
standards—more stringent, in some cases, than Head Start or Title 5
regulations—for program features including environment rating scores, group
sizes, adult-child ratios, and staff qualifications. Given the limitations in the
reimbursement system under existing programs (e.g., Head Start, State
Preschool, General CCD), the county PFA and POP initiatives are implementing
a tiered reimbursement system tied to program features that require more
resources and are associated with high quality. As seen in Table 6.4, the program
features that are tied to the reimbursement tiers include environment rating
scores, group sizes, adult-child ratios, and staff qualifications. In all cases, at the
highest quality level, the lead classroom teacher must have a bachelor’s degree
and specialized training in child development.
Table 6.4—Reimbursement Features for PFA/POP Initiatives in Four Case Study Counties
Reimbursement feature
Reimbursement tiers based on
Environment rating scores
Group sizes and adult-child ratios
Staff qualifications
Reimbursement for new nonsubsidized space ($)
Full Quality
Annualized RMR for part-day preschool-age program
SOURCE: See Appendixes B to E.
The reimbursement rates are per child for a part-day, academic-year program as of 2006-2007. The
LAUP reimbursement rates are calculated as nine times the monthly reimbursement rate, exclusive of
parent fees. The others are all specified as annual reimbursements.
LAUP uses different terminology for the three quality levels. Entry, Advancing, and Full Quality
correspond to the LAUP 3, 4, and 5 Star levels, respectively.
Calculated as the part-time hourly RMR for preschool age children times three hours per day times 175
days per year.
Merced’s unsubsidized Entry level programs could technically apply for an $800 reimbursement, but
that amount is so low that realistically unsubsidized programs must enter at the Advancing level or higher.
The tiered reimbursement schedules incorporate different funding levels based
on whether or not a provider is already receiving public subsidies and the level
of quality achieved in the classroom. The schedules vary across the four counties,
although not always in relationship to the ranking based on the cost of care (as
measured by the market rates specified in the RMR). For example, Table 6.4
shows the PFA/POP reimbursement for a part-day, academic-year program that
does not already receive public subsidies. This is the full reimbursement,
equivalent to the SRR under the State Preschool program (equal to $3,568; see
Table 5.3). The last row in Table 6.4 also shows the annualized RMR for a partday, academic-year program in each of the counties, indicating that the cost of
unsubsidized care is highest in San Mateo County and lowest in Merced County
(consistent with the RMRs reported in Table 5.4). However, the highest
PFA/POP reimbursement rates are for Merced County, followed by San Mateo,
San Diego, and then Los Angeles. Interestingly, at the Entry level, San Diego’s
reimbursement rate is below that for the State Preschool SRR.
In addition to the tiered reimbursement for providers, Merced and San Diego
counties also employ a stipend for teachers with a particular level of education as
a way to directly augment their salary. For example, San Diego provides a $1,500
annual stipend for a lead teacher with a Master Teacher Permit or associate
degree with specialized ECE coursework (Advancing level) and a $3,000 stipend
for a lead teacher with a bachelor’s degree with specialized ECE coursework
(Full Quality level). For support teachers at all quality levels with an associate
degree and 24 ECE units or more, the annual stipend is $1,200. The use of
stipends is discretionary in Merced but frequently used, with a range of $1,000 to
$15,000 depending on the salary. The use of stipends avoids the need to address
issues with salary scales and also does not entail a permanent salary change,
which may not be possible to sustain in the face of funding instability.
The four case study counties have faced a number of challenges in the
implementation of PFA. In some cases, PFA expansion has occurred at a slower
pace than original plans called for, which also means spending has not kept pace
with projections. This has particularly been the case in Los Angeles County,
where the scale of the PFA effort is so much larger than the other counties. The
composition of families that do participate has not always been what was
expected. San Mateo County has found that many of the families enrolled in its
PFA initiative have low incomes and therefore have not been able to afford the
fees associated with full-day programs. Consequently, fewer full-day slots have
been utilized than expected. In addition, fewer than expected middle- and upperincome families have enrolled in the county’s program.
Each of the counties has sought to broaden the group of licensed providers
participating in subsidized programs, but this objective has not readily been
achieved in most cases. Merced has found it particularly challenging to
incorporate private providers. In San Mateo County, no family child care homes
or private providers are participating thus far. Likewise, in San Diego County, as
of the 2006–07 school year, most provider settings were school districts, but the
provider mix did include one faith-based provider, a nonprofit agency, and two
family child care homes. Los Angeles County has made the incorporation of
family child care homes a central part of its operating plan and has been more
successful, with nearly 1,400 newly created spaces and 750 existing spaces
operating under the LAUP umbrella. For those counties with less success on this
front, barriers that preclude family child care homes and private providers from
participation include program features below the required standards, the costs of
technical assistance and other resources to raise their quality, requirements for
fiscal accountability, a lack of incentives, and less-than-effective strategies for
communication and outreach.