The Special Education Early Intervention Preschool Grant funding stream was created by the 2019–20 State Budget and appropriates nearly $650 million for this program. The funding stream is a response to requests from local educational agencies (LEAs) who have used Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) resources to support this important and required learning opportunity for students. The California Department of Education (CDE) reports that the funding stream will be apportioned as unrestricted. The funding is based on the number of preschool students with disabilities, but does not require the funding to be spent on new special education preschool services.
The CDE must still determine the number of three-, four-, and five-year-olds in preschool (not transitional kindergarten or kindergarten) with Individualized Education Programs for each school district, and also provide an estimate of when these funds will be disbursed. Also to be determined is whether the funding will be provided to the district of residence or district of service. While official estimates have not been provided, the funding is estimated at approximately $8,975 per pupil based on the 2017–18 district of residence pupil counts.
Although these new, one-time resources are coming to districts as unrestricted funds, it is critical to remember that services for preschoolers with disabilities are required by law and districts have been paying for these programs through LCFF revenues. This grant program will provide key new resources for longstanding, critically important programs.