The California Department of Education (CDE) Vision 

The CDE vision is, "to create a dynamic, world-class education system that equips all students with the knowledge and skills to excel in college and careers, and excel as parents and citizens."

The CDE, Child Development Division (CDD)

Provides leadership and support to contractors and the child development community, ensuring high quality early education programs are provided to children ages birth to 13 years. Many centers and most voucher-style programs in our county are subsidized through CDD.

California's commitment to early childhood education and child development spans five decades. California continues to promote a positive child- and family-focused philosophy.  Service to low-income families remains a priority, and state program goals demand that high-quality child development programs and services be made available. For additional information about California Department of Education visit:

California Department of Education 

Background for CEL systems across the state

Education Code section 8499.5(b)(2) requires Local Planning Councils (LPC) to assess local priorities by conducting a needs assessment that considers, among other things, waiting lists for all subsidized programs. Education Code section 8499.5(b)(8) requires LPCs to design a system to consolidate local child care waiting lists. Provision 7(d) of Schedule (b)(11) of Item 6110-196-0001 in the Budget Act of 2000-01 authorized $1.5 million to fund a Centralized Waiting List Pilot Program. The California Department of Education (CDE), Child Development Division (CDD) reserved $150,000 for an evaluation study of the Centralized Eligibility List Pilot Project.

In 2005, Education Code section 8227 was added stating that if funding is made available through the annual Budget Act, the alternative payment agency in each county shall design, maintain, and administer a countywide CEL if a list does not already exist in the county. Provision 1.5(m) of Item 6110-196-001 of the Budget Act of 2005-06 authorized $7.9 million to fund a CEL in each county.

A State budget crisis in 2011 has resulted in defunding the CEL system, but in each county, some level of centralization continues on a voluntary basis. Our local Santa Cruz County CEL system, administered by Santa Cruz County Parents Association, Inc., (The Voucher Project) continues to adhere to the general State purpose for Centralized Eligibility List (CEL) systems which is to “provide eligible families with equitable access to subsidized child care and development services and to provide participating child development agencies and other providers of subsidized child care and development services with efficient and equitable access to information about the families who are eligible for child care subsidies.”

Child Care and Development

Most of the funding for child care subsidies in Santa Cruz County comes through the California Department of Education, Child Development Division (CDD). Some of this funding is contracted to child care centers and family child care home networks to support slots in their programs for children whose families meet the eligibility and need requirements. In addition to meeting a high standard for the care provided to enrolled children, these programs also are required to provide meals and snacks to children, parent education, referrals to health and social services for families, and staff development opportunities to employees..

A somewhat larger amount of funding from CDD is contracted for voucher-style funding of child care slots, called Alternative Payment Programs.  In such programs, participating parents make choices among different types of providers ranging from licensed centers to friends or family members, selecting the care situation most appropriate for their child and family.  These Alternative Payment Programs also are required to provide health and social service referrals and various other services to participating families, to the community and to their agency employees. 

Some Child Care and Development programs in our community, such as Head Start, are funded by the Federal government. Some receive money through other State agencies, such as California Department of Social Services (which funds a voucher-style program to support the Welfare-to-Work activities of participating parents). Other programs receive funds, not through CDD but through other Divisions of the California Department of Education, such as 21st Century or After School Enrichment Services (ASES) programs for school age children.  

Each type of funding includes different requirements for standards that must be met by participating child care providers and eligibility rules to determine which families may receive the funding or use the child care slots. Additionally, child care providers that are required to have a license must meet the specific State requirements for obtaining and maintaining the specific type of license. These regulations are administered by the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division, which also determines programs and individuals that are exempt from the requirement to hold a license.