We started CELFE to shed light on the crucial role funding system design plays in ensuring equitable access to early learning. While the primary challenge facing early childhood education and care in the US may be the lack of overall system investment, how we fund early learning programs is the key to ensuring fair and equitable access.
Currently, programs providing similar services to similar children and families receive vastly different funding depending on whether they’re considered child care, preschool, or Head Start. This leads to uneven quality in communities and creates areas with a lack of access to early care and education.
Historically, we have seen that when more funding is added to the system, it doesn’t always result in increased access to early learning programs for the children, families, and communities with the most needs. We need to understand what funding mechanisms and systems best support fair and equitable access to high-quality early childhood education and care.
At CELFE, we focus on public funding for licensed formal early education services serving children aged 0-5. We aim to closely examine how funding systems impact access to and participation in early learning. We “follow the money” to understand how funding design affects access to high-quality early care and education.