Universal Pre-K &

P-3 Alignment

With the passage of the 2021-2022 California budget, historic new and expanded investments support a universal preschool through a mixed-delivery system, including:

  • California State Preschool Program (CSPP)
    • CSPP providers can access expansion funding to serve 3-year old children
  • Transitional Kindergarten (TK)
    • Transitional kindergarten will be expanded, with full implementation of universal TK slated for the 2025-26 school year. Increases for TK-12 funding, including resources for expanded learning and along with increased funding for early education, creates new opportunities for providing pre-kindergarten age children and their families with access and options for early learning experiences that meet diverse needs.
  • Other, including Head Start;  community-based providers; family child care; and family, friend and neighbor programs.

TK Expansion highlights:

  • Expansion begins in 2022-23, and incrementally increases eligibility for TK based on children’s birthdate, until universal TK is achieved by 2025-26 and will include all children who turn 4 before September 2 of the current school year
  • Max class size: 24
  • Adult to child ratio of 1:12, beginning 2022-23

    • 1:10, beginning 2023-24
  • Beginning Aug. 2023, credentialed TK teachers must have 24 ECE units, or equivalent classroom experience, or child development teacher permit
  • May implement earlier than incremental timeline using ETK, but only earn ADA when child turns 5
  • Age eligibility for TK does not impact family eligibility for other childcare and preschool programs
  • CSPP contractors may offer wrap-around childcare services for eligible TK and K children

School District Planning

The 2021-2022 school year is considered a planning year. One-time CA Pre-Kindergarten Planning Grants will be available to LEAs for creating or expanding CSPP and/or TK programs or to establish partnerships with other providers of PreK education. The planning grants are for planning, hiring and recruitment, training and professional development, classroom materials and supplies, etc. LEAs must develop a plan by June 30, 2022, which identifies how all children will have access to full-day learning programs the year before K that meet the needs of parents, including through partnerships with LEA’s expanded learning offerings, ASES program, CSPP, HS program, and other community-based early learning and care programs.

Additional Resources

To support this expansion, one-time facilities grant programs for CSPP, TK, and full-day kindergarten are available, which may be used to construct new facilities or retrofit existing school facilities. Additionally, competitive grants will be available to LEAs to increase the number of highly qualified teachers and administrators available to serve CSPP and TK students. Funds may be used for support and professional development to provide instruction in inclusive classrooms, culturally responsive instruction, DLLs, SEL, trauma-informed practices and restorative practices, and mitigating implicit biases to eliminate exclusionary discipline (available for encumbrance until June 30, 2024). The 2021-22 budget provides additional funds to support TK-12 education, including for credentialing as well as other professional development. The budget also provides for potential increases to the CSPP reimbursement rate (while the reimbursement system overall is planned to be restructured), as well as new slots, and some new flexibility in eligibility.

The Opportunity

With the expansion of TK, including revisions to the existing program that address current concerns about ratios, class size, and developmentally appropriate curriculum and instruction, along with resources for expanded learning and potentially increased reimbursement rates for CSPP, school districts have an opportunity to strengthen their overall early learning programs (preschool – kindergarten). The call is to meet the diverse needs of young students and families with options for part-day, full-day, school-term, year-round early learning services while focusing on developmentally appropriate and high-quality programs and equitable opportunities for teaching staff. 

We Can Help!

The Center for District Innovation and Leadership in Early Education is here to support school districts in their efforts toward planning and implementing TK expansion, through a comprehensive approach to considering PreK, TK, and K alignment and strengthening. We have expertise and experience in the district setting doing this work and are currently working with a number of school districts across California to understand and plan for TK expansion within their local context. 


We help districts develop and implement plans that are specific to their individual context and are feasible and efficient yet raise the level of program quality across the whole early learning and care system. We hold equity–or children, families, and the workforce–as a core value and approach to our work. The following services are available for school districts:

Consultancy to develop your Pre-Kindergarten grant plan, due June 30, 2022

Technical assistance for planning and implementing early learning strategies and alignment (PreK-TK-K and beyond)

Budget analysis and development support

Professional development for administrators, including early education leadership, district leadership, and school principals

DIAL EE Resources

DIAL EE has created a slide presentation template that can be used to communicate with school district leadership, boards of education, and other key stakeholders about the upcoming changes and opportunities with TK and PreK expansion. The presentation is intended to support the planning process and includes information about TK, expansion details, resources, and planning considerations. The slide presentation is a template that is customizable and includes slides for district-specific data and information. 

See examples of how other districts have modified the template

  • Oakland Unified School District (link)
  • Pasadena Unified School District (link)