What Is Funding Equity

Defining Adequacy


Rather than just tracking funding streams and what they fund, we think first about what young children and families need and what that costs. This is how we identify key metrics for program effectiveness, including factors specific to particular populations of children like English Language Learners and children with disabilities.

We define adequacy in funding for ECEC by:

  • Identifying a range of program models that meet the varied needs of children and families, such as full-day/year-round child care, school-day preschool, home visiting, and early intervention services.
  • Reviewing research to identify the program characteristics—such as highly qualified staff, small group sizes, and family supports—that matter most for promoting positive outcomes for children.
  • Generating model budgets for each type of program and service, with an emphasis on reflecting the true cost inclusive of adequate wages and benefits for staff.
  • Estimating the need for each program and service type by reviewing available data and gathering as much input as possible from parents and communities—especially those voices that historically have been left out of decisions around early learning funding.
  • Identifying the infrastructure costs for the system, including workforce development, facilities expansion, quality improvement supports, and community-level coordination that are critical for building a well-functioning, easy-to-access system.
  • Building a whole-system cost model that pulls these pieces together to build an “adequacy cost” that can be broken down to identify the funding needed in each community.

An Example from Our Work – ECEC Workforce Salary Scales

Salary Scales: Early Childhood Education and Care Workforce