States are at the forefront of recent advances in early childhood issues. Armed with compelling brain research and economic and evaluation findings, lawmakers are improving services, designing new programs, and expanding investments to support children’s development and early learning and to support working families. The resources found here are divided into child care, preschool/early learning, and early childhood development to address the full range of early childhood issues including child care subsidy programs, child care quality, school readiness, prekindergarten, home visiting, and early childhood development, including implementation issues such as financing, program design, quality improvement, governance, teacher education and training, systems development, child outcomes and data.
Early Childhood 101
Learn more about key early childhood policy areas such as prekindergarten, child care, early childhood data systems, home visiting and others. Take advantage of key resources that will expand your understanding of this broad issue area.
Child Care and Early Education Database
Search over four years of legislation by topic, state and year. To take advantage of this resource, click here.
Child Care and Early Education 2012 Legislative Action
This report shows that during the 2012 legislative session, state lawmakers introduced more than 800 bills in 46 states to address issues relating to young children. In all, lawmakers enacted 92 bills on child care quality, licensing and costs; school readiness and kindergarten assessments and early literacy development.
Child Care and Early Education 2011 Legislative Action
This report shows that during the 2011 legislative session, states continued to cope with the realities of decreased funding and budgets during an economic recovery. Despite economic conditions and reduced resources, however, states generally were able to maintain funding for early childhood services. State legislatures found innovative ways to increase availability and even new programs aimed at improving the accessibility.
Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2011
Click here to find a map and summary of findings.
Early Care and Education State Budget Actions FY 2010
This report presents an analysis of overall trends in early care and education budget decisions and actions in child care, prekindergarten, home visiting and related early childhood investments.
Areas of Focus:
Early learning for children birth to five: NCSL is currently working to support legislatures on early learning and child development issues, particularly for young children at-risk. Many legislators are actively working to improve child care, provide services aimed at infants and toddlers, create or expand prekindergarten programs, create plans to support early childhood mental health, or implement developmental screening or other early learning strategies. NCSL is a grantee of the Birth to Five Policy Alliance that supports state initiatives on early childhood development and early learning. For more information about these issues visit the Birth to Five Policy Alliance, www.birthtofivepolicy.org for more resources.
Early Learning Fellows program: The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is pleased to announce a year-long Early Learning Fellows program for state legislators and staff. The inaugural program will kickoff in December 2011. States have been leading efforts to improve the quality of child care, implementing preschool and innovative ways to support families with young children across the age spectrum from birth to kindergarten and into the early grades. They are also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development. Scientific and evaluation research provide new insights into both child development and programs that are showing results. New federal initiatives, such as the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, will boost early childhood and home visiting funds in the coming years. We are pleased to offer a legislative fellows program to legislators and legislative staff at no cost. For more information about this program click here.
Partnership with the Center on the Developing Child: NCSL partners with two projects at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University: the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child which is comprised of world renowned neuroscientists and child development scientists and the National Forum on Early Childhood Program Evaluation, whose leading researchers are helping policymakers identify effective early childhood interventions. For more information about the partnership visit: www.developingchild.harvard.edu.
Pre-K: State legislatures have been leading innovators in developing and expanding state prekindergarten programs in order to improve children’s readiness for school. States enacted new or expanded programs totaling $5.2 billion in state funding. NCSL shares the latest research and policy ideas on pre-k. For more information about pre-k efforts across the country go to: The Pew Center on the States, http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org.
Robyn Lipkowitz, Program Director
Julie Poppe, Program Manager
Phuonglan Nguyen, Policy Specialist
Alison May, Staff Coordinator
Sheri Steisel, Federal Affairs Counsel