(a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Early childhood inclusion embodies the values, policies, and practices that support the right of every infant and young child and his or her family, regardless of ability, to participate in a broad range of activities and contexts as full members of families, communities, and society. The desired results of inclusive experiences for children with and without disabilities and their families include a sense of belonging and membership, positive social relationships and friendships, and development and learning to reach their full potential. The defining features of inclusion that can be used to identify high-quality early childhood programs and services are access, participation, and supports.
(2) In accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 USC Sec. 1400 et seq.), all young children with exceptional needs should have access to inclusive high-quality early care and education programs where they are able to learn alongside children who do not have exceptional needs and are provided with individualized and appropriate supports to enable them to meet high expectations.
(3) Inclusive early care and education programs can improve a child's developmental progress and educational outcomes, especially for children with exceptional needs.
(4) Interventions provided to children with exceptional needs, including children who are at risk of requiring services for pupils with exceptional needs, can be more effective when a child is younger.
(5) Access to inclusive early care and education programs benefits communities and families, especially when programs are coordinated with public elementary and secondary education systems to create a developmental and educational continuum of support.
(b) The Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program is hereby established for the purpose of increasing access to inclusive early care and education programs.
(c) The sum of one hundred sixty-seven million two hundred forty-two thousand dollars ($167,242,000) is hereby appropriated from the General Fund to the Superintendent for allocation to local educational agencies for the Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program pursuant to this section. Funds shall be available for encumbrance until June 30, 2023.
(d) The department's Special Education Division and Early Education and Support Division shall work collaboratively to administer the program, including developing criteria for the selection of grantees.
(e) At a minimum, an applicant shall be a local educational agency and shall include all of the following information in its grant application:
(1) A proposal to increase access to subsidized inclusive early care and education programs for children up to five years of age, including those defined as "children with exceptional needs" pursuant to Section 8208, in low-income and high-need communities. "High-need" shall be defined pursuant to the county child care needs assessment specified in Section 8499.5. The proposal shall quantify the number of additional subsidized children proposed to be served, including children with exceptional needs.
(2) A plan to fiscally sustain subsidized spaces or programs created by grant funds beyond the grant period. Subsidies may be funded with private, local, state, or federal funds, but shall be able to demonstrate a reasonable expectation of sustainability.
(3) The identification of local resources to contribute 33 percent of the total award amount. The total award amount shall include state and local resources. Local resources may include in-kind contributions.
(4) The identification of resources necessary to support lead agency professional development to allow staff to develop the knowledge and skills required to implement effective inclusive practices and fiscal sustainability.
(5) A description of the special education expertise that will be used to ensure the funds are used in a high-quality, inclusive manner.
(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit a local educational agency from applying on behalf of a consortium of providers within the local educational agency's program area, including public and private agencies that will provide inclusive early care and education programs on behalf of the applicant.
(g) Grants shall be awarded on a competitive basis. Priority shall be given to all of the following:
(1) Applicants with a demonstrated need for expanded access to inclusive early care and education.
(2) Applicants in low-income communities and applicants that represent a consortium of local partners, including local special education partners and those with expertise in inclusive early learning and care environments.
(3) Applicants who demonstrate the ability to serve a broad range of disabilities.
(4) Applicants who do or plan to serve children with disabilities in proportion to their rate of identification similar to local educational agencies in their region.
(h) Grants may be used for one-time infrastructure costs only, including, but not limited to, adaptive and universal design facility renovations, adaptive equipment, and professional development. Funds shall not be used for ongoing expenditures.
(i) A grant recipient shall commit to provide program data and participate in overall program evaluation to ensure expanded access to inclusive environments, as specified by the department, as a condition of the receipt of grant funding.
(j) The department may reserve up to 1 percent of the program funds to support an evaluation to address improved access, participation, and supports to inclusive early learning and care programs and program and child outcomes.
(k) Commencing in the 2018-19 fiscal year, the department shall convene a stakeholder workgroup that includes, but is not limited to, representatives from the relevant divisions in the department, the State Department of Developmental Services, the State Interagency Coordinating Council on Early Intervention, local educational agencies, appropriate county agencies, regional centers, and resource and referral agencies. The workgroup shall be maintained through June 30, 2023, with the goal of providing continuous improvement in the inclusion of children with exceptional needs in early care and education settings. The department shall include representatives of local educational agencies participating in the Inclusive Early Education Expansion Program established in this section and county offices of education participating in the Inclusive Early Care Pilot Program, established pursuant to Section 136 of the act adding this section, in this workgroup, when appropriate, to share challenges, barriers, and best practices.
(l) For purposes of making the computations required by Section 8 of Article XVI of the California Constitution, the amount appropriated in subdivision (c) shall be deemed to be "General Fund revenues appropriated for school districts," as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 41202, for the 2017-18 fiscal year, and included within the "total allocations to school districts and community college districts from General Fund proceeds of taxes appropriated pursuant to Article XIII?B," as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 41202, for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
(Added by Stats. 2018, Ch. 32, Sec. 17.)