The NCSL Blog


By Andrea Belgrade and Alex McWard

This month the National Association for the Education of Young Children celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Week of the Young Child.

Credit: National Association for the Education of Young ChildrenThe Week of the Young Child highlights the lives of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their families, and recognizes the essential role early childhood programs have across the country. Policymakers also have a key role in supporting young children and their families by enhancing the early childhood system of resources that families access.

NCSL’s Children and Families Program provides policymakers with resources to better understand early childhood policy and financing issues. Our updated early childhood policy overview page highlights the systemic supports, such as home visiting, a strong early childhood workforce and accessible child care subsidies, that play an exceptional role during an exceptional time in a young child’s development.

The Children and Families Program also has recently recorded presentations for legislators and legislative staff focused on early childhood policy and paid family leave programs for families with infants and newly adopted children.

In 2020, legislatures across the country considered over 600 early care and education bills and enacted 57 bills in 21 states. Of those enacted, 36 specifically addressed child care and 11 addressed pre-kindergarten and school readiness.

As of March 2021, legislators have enacted 28 bills addressing issues related to child care quality, early education financing and governance. With an additional $39 billion for child care, $150 million for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, $350 million for programs under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and additional federal funding in the American Rescue Plan, state legislators have a unique opportunity to provide the field of early childhood education an infusion of supports for young children and their families.

Visit our early care and education bill tracking database for the latest updates on legislative action for the 2021 and previous legislative sessions.

Andrea Belgrade and Alex McWard are interns in NCSLs 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.