About Us

Center for Early Learning Funding Equity builds capacity for assessing adequacy and equity in early learning funding systems through research and transformative partnerships.

We create innovative approaches and funding mechanisms that support the diverse needs of children and families. We bring decades of experience in developing and implementing early learning systems at the state and local levels. We are driven by our deep belief in the power of early experiences to shape the trajectory of children’s lives.

Our Work

We are working to support the equitable and efficient allocation and distribution of public funds for early childhood education and care. To ensure that ECEC is funded as a public good, we must think about the entire ECEC sector. We must start by looking at funding streams together (Birth to Kindergarten, including preschools, child care, Early/Head Start, and Home Visiting). Governance matters, and how we approach multiple funding streams as an interactive, dynamic system at the state level ultimately makes learning accessible for young children and families.

We are creating stable, equitable, high-quality systems that support early learning. We know that we will not see equitable outcomes until we create an equitable system.

Mapping Funding Equity

We can’t talk about how equitable our system is until we know where the money actually goes. That’s why we follow the money by geography and program and compare current funding to what is needed to effectively meet every child and family’s needs.

Defining Funding Mechanisms and Tools

We design funding mechanisms to prioritize meeting the comprehensive and varied needs of children and families. For that reason, we start by defining adequate funding, then consider all available funding streams and how they work together as a system as we design funding mechanisms to support adequate funding.

Data Systems

Comprehensive, accurate data is crucial for planning and implementing early childhood systems that meet children’s diverse needs. CELFE is supporting Chicago and Illinois in implementing state-of-the-art Early Childhood Integrated Data Systems


We are building a movement to strengthen the field of ECEC financing in partnership with states, researchers, advocates, and providers. CELFE’s work is designed to help states and localities think about financing strategies to build quality programs, stabilize care for families, and support the ECEC workforce.


We guide and inspire states and communities as they design, transform, and sustain public early education and care systems to be equitable, efficient, and effective. We have worked with states and localities to create funding equity maps, compensation contracts, cost estimation models, salary scales, and more.

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