Encompassing educational supports ranging from birth through third grade, early care and education (ECE) capitalizes on providing high-quality programs and services to build strong foundations for young children. It is also inextricably connected to supporting parents and the economy. This page includes issues such as child care, early intervention, pre-K, quality rating and improvement systems, school readiness and the ECE workforce.
Relevant context and state policy examples concerning early care and education.
Legislative trends and other news with implications for early care and education.
Federal COVID-19 relief funds have been a lifeline for early care and education programs, but this funding is temporary. With deadlines approaching, states have an opportunity to push forward policies to support providers, children and families.
Using data-informed decisions paired with bipartisan support for early care and education, state policymakers achieved significant, yet specific, systems-level changes in 2022 amid evolving challenges in the education systems in their states. During 2022 legislative sessions, at least 345 bills were introduced, with 65 enacted in 30 states.
Attendance declines and interruptions to instruction and care have led to a rise in behavioral issues and growing gaps in literacy and math for young children. Given these challenges, the transition into kindergarten has come into focus as a critical junction where education systems can support early learners by focusing on the whole child and taking a more comprehensive approach.
Young children with disabilities and developmental delays experienced unique hardships during the pandemic, including a significant decline in access to early childhood special education services (ECSE).
Policies that expand access to high-quality medical care and early childhood programs provide important benefits to children and families, such as improved literacy and numeracy skills and executive function at kindergarten entry and beyond.
State Information Requests
Brief issue scans, typically provided within 48 hours, that provide top-level information on early care and education.