Universal Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation Grant Program
California is poised to realize Universal PreKindergarten (UPK) for all four-year-old children, and to expand services for three-year-old children through bold leadership and the unprecedented investments in the Budget Act of 2021, including universal transitional kindergarten (UTK) and expansion of the California State Preschool Program (CSPP).
The tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a call to action to ensure a strong educational foundation for all children, emphasizing the critical role of our education system in supporting children and families’ needs and how local flexibility fuels community capacity to meet their needs. California’s leaders responded with historic investments in family support, child development and care, and education. Yet, as the Master Plan for Early Learning and Care highlights, realizing the promise of early childhood investments will require all partners—across early learning and care, early education, elementary education, and expanded learning and extended care communities—to work together to create a stronger system designed to meet the needs of the whole child.
The California Universal Prekindergarten Planning and Implementation Grant Program – Overview California seeks to set children on a trajectory of lifelong success by investing in early and equitable learning experiences, including infant and toddler supports, such as family leave and access to infant and toddler care, universal preschool for all four-year-old children, and enhanced educational experiences across an aligned preschool to third grade system.
The 2022–23 State Budget package allocated additional funding for the UPK Planning and Implementation Grant Program as a state early learning initiative with the goal of expanding access to prekindergarten programs at local educational agencies (LEAs). This grant program provides $300 million for the California Department of Education (CDE) to allocate directly to LEAs based on a statutory formula to support planning and implementation costs associated with expanding Prekindergarten (Pre-K) options, such as universally-available transitional kindergarten (TK), CSPP, and Head Start for eligible students, and other local and community-based partnerships. It is important for LEAs to include partners such as CSPP, Head Start, and other early learning and care providers in the co-creation of the local plan. Engaging all partners in the community will enhance resources for families and children and fully utilize and coordinate available resources, including facilities, staff, and funding.