Over the years, states have established coordinating councils that covered various parts of a state’s early childhood system across settings and age ranges. As part of the Head Start Reauthorization Act of 2007, states were encouraged to establish State Advisory Councils on Early Childhood Education and Care, which have also come to be known as Early Childhood Advisory Councils (ECACs). The Councils were allocated $1.1 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for one-time start-up grants to be spent over three years – it is important to note that a state match of 70 percent was required to receive these funds. The State Advisory Councils on Early Childhood Education and Care are required to:
- conduct a periodic needs assessment.
- identify opportunities for, and barriers to, collaboration and coordination of early childhood programs and services.
- develop recommendations for increasing the overall participation of children in early childhood programs.
- develop recommendations for a unified, statewide early childhood data collection system.
- develop recommendations for a statewide professional development system.
- assess the capacity and effectiveness of 2- and 4- year public and private institutions of higher education.
- make recommendations for improvements to early learning standards and develop high-quality comprehensive early learning standards.
For the language specific to the Councils in the Head Start Act, as well as FAQs about the Councils, click here.
NAEYC has collected a variety of resources (which will be updated as more become available) for Councils, practitioners, policymakers and other interested parties relating to the required areas of work for State Advisory Councils on Early Childhood Education.
Needs Assessment, Early Childhood Systems Building, and Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
State Advisory Councils on Early Childhood Education and Care are required to do periodic, statewide needs assessments focusing not only on the availability of care but also its quality. These needs assessment will therefore have to look at the overall early childhood system as well as quality improvement initiatives, such as quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS).
- The Building Blocks Community Assessment
- A Tool to Assess the Alignment of State PD Systems and QRIS
- A Tool Using Data to Inform a State Infant/Toddler Care Agenda (Center for Law and Social Policy)
Early Childhood Systems Building
- The Build Initiative – Systems Building
- The Build Initiative – Early Childhood Systems
- NCCIC – Early Care and Education Systems Building Initiatives: Research Overview
- State Early Childhood Development System and Core Elements
Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
Collaboration and Coordination
To build a truly integrated, highly functioning early childhood system, planners should promote coordination and collaboration between state agencies and funding streams for early childhood programs and services.
- Leveraging Existing Funding Sources to Support Early Head Start and EHS-like Services (Center for Law and Social Policy)
- Starting Off Right: Promoting Child Development From Birth in State Early Care and Education Initiatives (Center for Law and Social Policy)
- State Initiatives to Promote Early Learning: Next Steps in Coordinating Subsidized Child Care, Head Start, and State Prekindergarten (Center for Law and Social Policy)
- Using Title I to Expand Opportunities for High-Quality Early Childhood Programs (Center for Law and Social Policy)
Increasing Overall Participation of Children in Early Childhood Programs
Access to high-quality early childhood programs and services is a cornerstone of a strong early childhood system. Adequate financing to support programs in achieving and maintaining higher levels of quality as well as to support an increased number of high-quality early childhood programs to serve young children and their families is essential.
- Child Care and Early Education: Opportunities to Serve More Low-Income, Working Families - Audio (Center for Law and Social Policy)
- Ten Policies to Improve Access to Quality Child Care for Children in Immigrant Families (Center for Law and Social Policy)
- A Tool to Examine State Child Care Subsidy Policies and Promote Stable, Quality Care for Low-Income Babies and Toddlers (Center for Law and Social Policy)
Early Childhood Data Collection Systems
While some states have made strides in creating data systems for K through 12, creating unified, comprehensive, longitudinal early childhood data collection systems that can link to other existing data systems will prove essential for states in their work to strengthen their early childhood systems.
Professional Development Systems
Creating an integrated early childhood professional development system for all early childhood education professionals working with and on behalf of young children is essential. Integrated policies that intentionally promote the building and support of an efficient cross-sector system will decrease duplication of efforts and increase accountability and sustainability.
Assessing the capacity of a state’s institutions of higher education directly links to the work of its professional development system to prepare early childhood education professionals in their work to promote the healthy development of young children.
- NAEYC Standards for Professional Preparation Programs
- NAEYC Early Childhood Association Degree Accreditation
- NAEYC Recognition of Baccalaureate and Graduate Degree Programs
Early Learning Guidelines
Developing or revising high-quality, comprehensive statewide early learning guidelines for children birth through 5 is essential for well-functioning, high-quality early childhood programs. These guidelines should cover what young children should know and be able to do across their developmental timeline.
- Infant/Toddler Early Learning Guidelines
- Inside the Content of Infant-Toddler Early Learning Guidelines: Results from Analyses, Issues to Consider, and Recommendations
- NCCIC – State Early Learning Guidelines, Implementation of ELGs
- Recommendations and Issues for Consideration When Writing or Revising Early Learning Guidelines