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Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 273 by Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Solano, a priority bill for the California Legislative Women’s Caucus this year.

The governor signed it during a public ceremony held at Women’s Empowerment in Downtown Sacramento, where he was surrounded by members of the Legislative Women’s Caucus.

AB 273 was the first bill Aguiar-Curry introduced. This policy will ensure that parents participating in English as a Second Language (ESL) and High School Equivalency (HSE) courses can qualify for subsidized child care. It is well documented that individuals who are proficient in English have higher occupational mobility, better job prospects, and the opportunity to earn higher wages. Aguiar-Curry and her staff collaborated closely with the Women’s Policy Institute on this legislation.

“One of my priorities as a legislator is to support women,” said Aguiar-Curry at the press conference. “An essential part of supporting women is ensuring that women and their families have access to affordable child care.”

Parents taking vocational training courses are eligible for subsidized child care, including preschool. Foundational courses, such as ESL and HSE classes, which help parents move on to vocational training, may not always qualify for subsidized child care. In 2015, the average single mother could expect to spend over two-thirds of her income to cover the cost of child care. For families on a tight budget, particularly single mothers and women of color, this is a significant burden.

Supporters of AB 273 state that allowing greater access to child care services for those enrolled in ESL and HSE courses will increase socioeconomic mobility for both parents and their children. Since its introduction, AB 273 has been supported by over sixty child care, educational, and immigrant rights organizations. In the Legislature, it enjoyed wide bipartisan support without ever receiving a “No” vote.

“Today, we’re celebrating a big victory for California families,” said Aguiar-Curry. “Learning English and completing a high school education are the keys to job training and professional development. For years to come, AB 273 will empower parents to take the foundational steps needed to support their families.”

Now that AB 273 has been signed into law, the statute will go into effect Jan. 1.