Fast Facts

This is a quick-reference section of Plan4Preschool, hosting commonly sought-after pieces of information, including statistics on preschool in California, preschool program funding sources, directories of ECE higher education programs, a list of funded local innovators, and a list of user-generated ECE weblinks.

To see a chart of California funding sources and programs, visit California Preschool at a Glance.

California's Preschool Children:

  • There are 540,827 four year olds in California1
  • Approximately 62% attend preschool or Head Start programs prior to kindergarten2
  • 39 % of preschool children are likely English language learners (ELLs)3
  • An estimated 13.7 – 18% of all children have some form of special health care need4
  • Two years of special health care intervention prior to school saves $30,000 to $100,000 per child5

Child Care Facilities:

Note: these numbers include private, faith-based, non-profit, for profit and school sites.

  • There are 11,054 licensed child care centers in California (for 0 – 13 year olds)6
  • There are 38,1132 Family Child Care Homes (large and small) in California
  • These sites can serve and estimated 1,063,193 children (0 – 13)7
  • There are nearly 4 million children under 13 with working parents8

Preschool Workforce:

  • California’s licensed ECE workforce is approximately 130,000 people9
  • Average annual salary for centers’ highest paid teachers (those with a BA or higher) is $34,38210
  • This is nearly $16,000 less than that of the average California kindergarten teacher11 and less than half (46%) of the State Median Income for a family of four ($74,801) 12
  • 60% of centers employ at least one teacher with a BA or higher13
  • Average annual ECE teacher turnover is 22%, twice that of California public school K-12 teachers14


  • The cost of are for one preschooler in a center averages $7,477 per year in California15, more than twice the annual tuition and fees at the average Cal State University ($3,560)16
  • 44% of young children live in low income families17
  • Only 25% of eligible 3-year-olds and 53% of 4-year-olds who are eligible for public preschool are served by those programs (are estimated to be served) 18

Where we rank, % of 4 year olds in publicly financed preschool:

  • California ranks 26th in 4 year olds’ access to publicly funded preschool19
  • Oklahoma serves 88% of its 4 year olds in publicly funded preschool programs
  • California only serves 12% of its 4-year-olds in the official State Preschool System
  • California spends $3,607 per child enrolled, compared to a national average of $4,061
  • According to a UNICEF study of 21 rich democracies, the US ranks 20th in overall child well-being and sixth out of the seven G7 Countries in access to public early education for 3 to 5 year olds20

Cost-Benefit Analyses

For more on the economic and social return on investment of Early Care and Education expenditures, see the Cost-Benefit Analysis research section.

End Notes

  1. Center for Health Statistics, birth data for 2005 and 2006
  2. Bridges, Margaret, B. Fuller, R. Rumberger, and L. Tran, "Preschool for California's Children, Promising Benefits, Unequal Access. PACE, Policy Brief (Report) 04-32004. from CDE website "Preschool For All"
  3. Based on the number of kindergarteners who are English Language Learners - Naughton, S. "Importance of Family Engagement," Children Now, December 2004, issue brief.
  4. High Risk Infant Interagency Council report, Assessing Our Reach,
  5. Meisels S. J. & Shonkoff, J. P. Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  6. Cal. Child Care Resource and Referral Network 2007 Child Care Portfolio
  7. ibid.
  8. ibid. Children living with two parents or a single head-of-household in the labor force.
  9. California Early Care and Education Workforce Study: 2006 Statewide Highlights, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
  10. ibid.
  11. ibid.
  12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services LIHEAP Clearinghouse
  13. "California Early Care and Education Workforce Study: 2006 Statewide Highlights," Center for the Study of Child Care Employment and the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
  14. Alliance for Excellent Education, "Teacher Attrition: a costly loss to the nation and to states." Issue Brief, Aug. 2005
  15. Cal. Child Care Resource and Referral Network 2007 Child Care Portfolio
  16. CSU Student Academic Support website
  17. Child Care Law Center
  18. Rand, "Publicly Funded Early Care and Education Programs for California Preschoolers"
  19. NIEER "State of Preschool 2008"
  20. Every Child Matters Education Fund, "Homeland Insecurity," January 2009