The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

NCSL’s Early Care and Education project monitors and tracks relevant legislation annually for the 50 states and territories.

child blocks Our online database allows users to search legislation by state, topic, status, primary sponsor, bill number and keywords. The database is updated weekly and includes proposed and enacted legislation from 2008-2018.

Our annual report of early care and education legislation summarizes significant enactments in early care and education topic areas.

During the 2017 legislative session, state lawmakers addressed an array of issues related to young children, introducing nearly 1,200 bills with approximately 140 bills signed into law in 33 states. Child care continues to be a dominant issue, in 2017, as 26 states passed child care legislation. Following child care we found that prekindergarten, school readiness and early childhood governance legislation were the second and third most popular policy areas with 18 and 11 states enacting bills respectively. Access the report to read more about other related legislation.

NCSL’s Early Care and Education legislative database and 2017 Enacted Legislation on Early Care and Education report categorize legislation by the following seven topics:

  • Child Care Subsidy and Quality: Includes legislation relating to child care regulation, standards, background checks, health and safety and penalties.
  • Financing: Includes legislation relating to pay-for-success, tax credits, funding mechanisms and subsidies.
  • Governance: Includes legislation relating to advisory councils and boards, study committees and systems.
  • Home Visiting: Includes legislation about home visiting programs and services.
  • Prekindergarten and School Readiness: Includes legislation on early childhood education programs, school readiness, preschool and assessments.
  • Prenatal, Infant and Toddlers: Includes legislation relating to prenatal screening, maternal health, safety, intervention and child well-being.
  • Teachers and Workforce: Includes legislation on teacher training requirements, certification, professional development and workforce matters.

Since Jan. 1, 2018, no fewer than 451 bills have been introduced, at least 168 were carried over from 2017, and at least 44 have been enacted thus far. As 2018 legislative sessions wind down in many states, NCSL will being to prepare its 2018 Enacted Legislation on Early Care and Education report for release this fall.

Access our database to learn more about what your state and others are working on legislatively in the policy areas of early care and education. 

Alison May is a research analyst II in NCSL’s Children and Families program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.