(a) (1) Each applicant or contracting agency funded pursuant to Section 8235 shall give first priority to three- or four-year-old neglected or abused children who are recipients of child protective services, or who are at risk of being neglected, abused, or exploited upon written referral from a legal, medical, or social service agency. If an agency is unable to enroll a child in this first priority category, the agency shall refer the child's parent or guardian to local resources and referral services so that services for the child can be located.
(2) Notwithstanding Section 8263, after children in the first priority category set forth in paragraph (1) are enrolled, each agency funded pursuant to Section 8235 shall give priority to eligible four-year-old children who are not enrolled in a state-funded transitional kindergarten program before enrolling eligible three-year-old children. Each agency shall certify to the Superintendent that enrollment priority is being given to eligible four-year-old children.
(b) For California state preschool programs operating with funding that was initially allocated in a prior fiscal year, at least one-half of the children enrolled at a preschool site shall be four-year-old children. Any exception to this requirement shall be approved by the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall inform the Department of Finance of any exceptions that have been granted and the reasons for granting the exceptions.
(c) (1) (A) Commencing June 15, 2015, and notwithstanding any other law, in awarding new funding for the expansion of a California state preschool program that is appropriated by the Legislature for that purpose in any fiscal year, the Superintendent, after taking into account the geographic criteria established pursuant to Section 8279.3 and the data described in subparagraph (B), shall give priority to applicant agencies that, in expending the expansion funds, will provide the greatest progress toward achieving access to full-day, full-year services for all income-eligible four-year-old children.
(B) In awarding funding pursuant to subparagraph (A) and in order to promote access for all income-eligible four-year-old children to at least a part-day California state preschool program, the department shall take into account the needs assessments submitted to the department pursuant to Section 8499.5 and any other high-quality data resources available to the department.
(2) Expansion funding awarded pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be apportioned at the rate described in Section 8265 and as determined in the annual Budget Act.
(3) A family child care home education network shall be eligible to apply for expansion funding awarded pursuant to paragraph (1).
(d) This section does not preclude a local educational agency from subcontracting with an appropriate public or private agency to operate a California state preschool program and to apply for funds made available for purposes of this section. If a school district chooses not to operate or subcontract for a California state preschool program, the Superintendent shall work with the county office of education and other eligible agencies to explore possible opportunities in contracting or alternative subcontracting to provide a California state preschool program.
(e) This section does not prevent eligible children who are receiving services from continuing to receive those services in future years pursuant to this chapter.
(Amended by Stats. 2014, Ch. 32, Sec. 4.)