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Expanding High-Quality Child Care for Infants and Toddlers

Lessons from implementation of Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships in states.

Of the 12 million children under age 3 in the United States, nearly 25 percent live in a family with earnings below the poverty level, with little to no access to quality and affordable child care. To address this problem, Congress appropriated $500 million in 2014 to expand access to Early Head-Start programs, which included the creation of Early Head Start – Child Care Partnerships (Partnerships).

In 2019, Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce) conducted interviews with a variety of state leaders regarding Partnerships programs. Interviewees included those who administer a Partnerships grant, and some who supported implementation of Partnerships in their states but did not have a Partnerships grant. As a result of these interviews, Start Early is proud to share our report on the lessons of implementation of the Partnerships across states.

Key Findings

Start Early found that states with Partnerships program have:

  • Leveraged multiple funding sources and state systems in new ways to support local program success and expanded access to high-quality child care for thousands of families.
  • Supported continuity of care without interruptions for infants and toddlers in working families with low incomes.
  • Raised the bar for what quality infant and toddler child care could and should be.
  • Created higher education pathways to build new skills and competencies for the infant and toddler workforce.
  • Piloted reforms that were ultimately scaled statewide to improve care for many more infants and toddlers.