Center for American Progress

RELEASE: 10 Recommendations for Increasing the Impact of Federal and State Investments in Early Childhood Education
Press Release

RELEASE: 10 Recommendations for Increasing the Impact of Federal and State Investments in Early Childhood Education

Read the report.

Washington, D.C. — At today’s event with White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz, Doing What Works, a project of the Center for American Progress will release a report detailing how the United States can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of existing federal and state investments in early childhood education programs.

Experiences in early life can have a tremendous impact on an individual’s lifetime trajectory. Children who receive high-quality child care have better developmental outcomes in early childhood, including better cognitive and linguistic development. Furthermore, participation in high-quality early learning programs also packs an impressive economic punch. The economic return on investment from early learning programs is higher than from remedial interventions later in life. The United States can more readily realize the potential gains from federal early childhood programs by improving how the federal government manages and supports its investment in these programs.

The paper, entitled Increasing the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Existing Public Investments in Early Childhood Education sets forth 10 federal reforms that will significantly advance the evolution of our nation’s federally supported early childhood education system, improve child outcomes, and ensure system accountability, as well as operational consistency and greater efficiency. To help identify these essential reforms, the Center for American Progress assembled a number of highly respected experts in the early childhood education field. The ten proposals can be implemented with current resources and current law and build on the work of the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

The recommendations for the federal government include:

1. Partner with states to align early learning standards that define expectations for all early learning programs.

2. Invest with states to build assessments and assessment systems that demonstrate standards are being met.

3. Increase consistency, quality, and systemwide access to federally procured and federally required, locally procured technical assistance.

4. Implement a more consistent, state-of-the-art approach to high-quality professional development for existing staff and help determine the optimal set of skills and knowledge that should be imparted in preparation programs for early childhood program staff.

5. Improve early childhood data and harmonize reporting requirements to help increase knowledge of inputs and outcomes.

6. Promote the replication of successful strategies to build continuity from early childhood programs to kindergarten and continue to remove data and other bureaucratic barriers to successful continuity systems.

7. Build more federal, state, and local capacity to meet the increasing demand for culturally and linguistically appropriate services for children who are dual language learners.

8. Close the gaps in universal development screening across all federally supported early learning or care programs.

9. Require expanded early learning program participation as a means of boosting performance of failing elementary schools.

10. Establish a permanent office that creates a common infrastructure to advance system reforms for both the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education.

“These recommendations are a pathway to build on the efforts of both the Bush and Obama Administrations to address early childhood program quality and child school readiness outcomes,” said Donna Cooper, co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “While our report provides a blueprint for increasing the effectiveness of existing early childhood resources, America must increase early learning investments in order to ensure that more children start school ready to learn."

Read the report:
Increasing the Effectiveness and Efficiency of Existing Public Investments in Early Childhood Education
, by Donna Cooper and Kristina Costa

Watch the CAP event live: Today at 1:00 p.m. eastern, Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, will join the Center for American Progress and a panel of distinguished experts to discuss increasing the impact of federal and state investments in early childhood education. Click here to watch live streaming footage of the event.

To speak with a CAP expert on this topic please contact Katie Peters at [email protected] or 202.741.6285


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