Our Approach

Designing Funding Mechanisms


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.

Too often, policy development focuses on one funding stream at a time. This limited perspective doesn’t represent the reality of how early childhood education and care funding streams, such as child care subsidy, Early/Head Start, and state early education funding interact at the program and community levels to create an equitable—or inequitable—system. Our data-driven approach helps us map where the money is going so we understand how funding streams work together.

We want to uncover the unintended consequences of our current ECEC funding system design so we can ensure all money going in gets where it needs to go to support children and families. When we start with a focus on children’s and families’ needs rather than funding streams, we can begin to create a system that is equitable and sustainable for all children.

Funding Systems Research

  • Analysis of current and proposed funding mechanisms to uncover impacts on program sustainability and equitable access
  • Geographic equity and adequacy mapping focused on how child care, preschool, Early/Head Start and home visiting funding combine to form equitable or inequitable patterns of resource distribution.
  • Impact of funding initiatives on equitable access to quality ECEC

Funding Design for States and Localities

  • Cost estimation modeling
  • Rate setting
  • Funding ramp-up plans
  • Funding allocation modeling
  • Preschool funding formula design

An Example from Our Work – Foundational Investments in Child Care

Equitable and Stable Child Care Funding: Are Per-Child Subsidies Our Only Tool?