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'This is exciting.' | Gov. Newsom signs early childhood bill, helps foster and homeless children thrive

Underserved communities such as homeless, English learners, and foster youth can benefit from college saving accounts up to $1500.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this April 13, 2021, file photo, kindergarten students participate in a classroom activity on the first day of in-person learning at Maurice Sendak Elementary School in Los Angeles. All 4-year-olds in California could go to kindergarten for free under a new proposal Wednesday, May 12, 2021, from Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration, part of a broad new education spending package made possible by the state's surprise budget surplus. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

FRESNO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed an early childhood bill that aims to help disadvantaged students thrive.

According to a press release, AB 1363 provides inclusive and cost effective early learning opportunities — such as free pre-kindergarten for all four year olds, reducing class sizes and setting up college savings accounts for low-income students, English learners and foster and homeless youth —  and will help address the educational gaps that disproportionally disrupt learning for students whose first language isn't English.

"The critical component to the bill is quality, not just quantity but quality," Newsom said at the bill signing on Tuesday. "Quality is driving this determination to address not just the achievement gap but the real gap that persists and that's the readiness gap." 

State officials have committed $123.9 billion to provide free access to high-quality, and dual language support to pre-kindergarten, according to the governor's comeback plan fact sheet. This plan also invests $10 million to expand dual languages programs and $1.9 billion to seed college savings accounts of up to $1,500. 

The plan is expected to be fully implemented by 2025.

"To address systemic challenges that we face as a nation, as a state, the issues of income and wealth disparity. You have to begin at the beginning," Newsom said.

Gov. Newsom said he hopes cities and states match the program because it is a real opportunity to leverage dollars.

"This is exciting," Newsom said. "I really believe this is a big deal." 

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