Cost Modeling Technical Network

ECEC Cost Modeling Convening 2022


In June of 2022, Center for Early Learning Funding Equity (formerly the Early Childhood Transformation Team), Children’s Funding Project and Prenatal to Five (PN5) Fiscal Strategies convened a group of individuals who are already experienced in developing cost models for states and localities, and/or are in the position to want and need to know more about this emerging body of work.

Notes & Recordings

Day 1

Day 1, Session 1

Key Challenges in the Field

  • Use of cost model to perpetuate the status quo vs. to be a tool for systems change; then the real political implications for realizing larger systems goals
  • Identifying the lead entity to engage in cost modeling work which therefore dictates continued ownership of the model and iterative work after the fact
  • Building out capacity for TA to reach all states/territories; the need to create benchmarks/ principles that inform cost models; creating self-sufficiency within states to do this work independently

Day 1

Day 1, Session 2

State/City Support Needed to use CM as part of Overall Funding Design Efforts

  • Investment in long-term change management including priming political leadership to consistently hold the “north star,” leveraging philanthropy towards larger public investments, working with advocates to align with strategic goals, and assessing readiness for effective change
  • Building out local infrastructure to not only funnel dollars but to also encourage greater financial “skin in the game” while balancing equity concerns and not recreating the K-12 system
  • Change management requires financial incentives and rethinking governance to alleviate burden/stress from providers

Day 2

Day 2, Session 1

Scale of Future Work; Existing and Potential Future Partners

  • Connecting technical modelers with the needed policy/system thinkers to build out strategic paths forward; have to engage with both sides
  • Building out the knowledge base for existing partners (i.e. creating standards/benchmarks) and also building out capacity at different levels including policymakers/state officials, advocacy/community partners, and providers
  • Information gathering: surveying states to better understand data needs for cost modeling (pre and post)

Day 2

Day 2, Session 2

Next Steps

  • Need for a data repository to collect each state’s narrow cost analysis and from there begin to create standards/standardize inputs to better align as a field on what we believe to be best practice
  • Building political capital to push for more comprehensive approach to change and not just adjustments around the edges; moving away from scarcity mindset
  • Continue the conversations that began at this convening with specific topics (each topic inviting experts into the conversation) to continue to build towards establishing shared principles/standards

Key Takeaways

Five Tips for Improving Cost Modeling for Early Childhood Education

By Sarah Eicher and Kate Ritter, Children’s Funding Project

A cost model measures the true cost of equitably implementing, maintaining, or expanding a program or service for children. Demand for cost modeling in early childhood care and education continues to grow as states and communities further invest in expanding equitable opportunities for children and youth. While the number of technicians that can develop early childhood cost model tools is limited, the importance of increasing access to and understanding of these tools galvanized cost model partners to align in establishing common standards for a broader audience. To drive this work forward, last month Children’s Funding Project, Center for Early Learning Funding Equity, and Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies gathered leading experts in early childhood cost modeling to share approaches and explore actionable steps to build skills, knowledge, and partnerships within and across states, territories, and tribes that connect to governance choices. During this inaugural event, partners from technical consulting organizations, early childhood advocates, and philanthropies examined how cost modeling intersects with various social systems and what thoughtful expansion of the cost modeling field looks like as demand for this work grows.