New California Law Aims to Offer Bilingual Child Care

New California Law Aims to Offer Bilingual Child Care

Parents pick up their children from school in Chicago, Ill., on March 1, 2021. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

10/11/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

Gov. Gavin Newsom this week approved a California bill that aims to help English language learner students in childcare centers by incorporating more of their home languages into the centers’ program.
The governor Oct. 8 signed Assembly Bill 393, introduced by Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-Arleta) in February, which now requires all state-subsidized childcare centers and family childcare homes that serve low-income children to survey families about the languages they speak at home.
In a statement, Ms. Rivas noted that 60 percent of children under five in California speak more than one language at home.
“Despite the state’s positive shift acknowledging linguistic and cultural diversity as assets, and although 60 percent of children ages birth to five live in households in which a language other than English is spoken, there is no consistent manner of identifying [dual language learners] in California’s general childcare programs,” she stated in a July Senate Education Committee analysis.
The absence of such information, she said, “impairs the ability of state policymakers to make informed decisions over resources that could be leveraged to nurture and develop the early linguistic assets of these children for their benefit and the greater benefit of California.”
Ms. Rivas’s office was not immediately available for comment on the bill’s passing.
In a fact sheet for the bill, the assemblywoman’s office emphasized the importance of caring for children in both English and their home languages as they prepare for schooling.
“It is important to identify [dual language learners] when they enter preschool in order to design programs and train teachers to support children in ways that intentionally develop their home language and English,” the fact sheet stated. “Research shows that achieving fluency in multiple languages benefits children and students by broadening their cognitive flexibility, enhancing their ability to learn, and giving students the opportunity to become bi- or multi-lingual so that they are competitive in the global workforce.”
A child plays with a news tripod between the legs of her mother in Orange, Calif., on June 3, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A child plays with a news tripod between the legs of her mother in Orange, Calif., on June 3, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The new law requires centers to report survey information to the state and would direct California’s Department of Social Services to develop informal directives and regulations for centers to implement based on survey results.
Families may decline to participate in the survey, however, without affecting the eligibility of their child for the center.
The bill proved popular among legislators and groups—receiving unanimous support when it passed both the Assembly in May and the Senate in September—with no recorded opposition.
It received support from several education groups, including Catalyst California, Children Now, Children’s Institute and Parent Institute for Quality Education, and Early Edge California, an education advocacy group and a co-sponsor of the bill.
In a statement of support, the latter echoed the importance of developing fluency in multiple languages for children.
“Childcare programs must be culturally and linguistically responsive and integrate support to ensure that [dual language learner’s] linguistic and related developmental needs are met,” the group wrote in a Assembly Education Committee analysis from February. “Standardizing [dual language learner] identification and collecting crucial information about their assets helps raise awareness about the importance and benefits of home language and bilingualism.”
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

Author

Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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