A New Name for a New Reality: The Ounce is Now Start Early Read More

Our Approach

Using our experience and expertise from decades of grassroots advocacy in Illinois, Start Early (formerly known as the Ounce) works at local, state and federal levels with advocates, government systems, program leaders and other partners in the field.

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Grounded in our home state of Illinois — and working with state leaders, advocates and other partners at community, state and federal levels — our policy and advocacy work aims to:

  • Improve early childhood experiences for all young children through programs and policies that support early learning and care, maternal and child health and family engagement.
  • Sustain and increase public investments for quality, comprehensive early childhood education.
  • Support policies and service delivery systems that increase access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education and positively impact young children’s learning, health and family outcomes.

Our Work

State-Based Advocacy

Our policy and advocacy work is deeply rooted in our home state of Illinois, where we seek to shape the state’s early childhood system through legislative, administrative and grassroots advocacy. Our state-focused teams in Illinois and Washington state work diligently to ensure that funding, legislation and federal and state initiatives prioritize early childhood programs.

We also work to enhance collaboration among programs to best support the creation and evolution of early childhood systems that promote quality and effectively meet the needs of the children and families who need them most.

Federal Policy

We work in partnership with many others to inform federal policies and rules using the experiences of our front-line program partners and our research on the most effective ways to support children and families, particularly those from under-resourced communities. Our federal policy work extends and amplifies our state-based efforts to increase legislative commitment to comprehensive and quality early learning and development programs for children from birth to age 5. In addition, we work closely with our partner organization First Five Years Fund (FFYF) to advocate for increased federal investments in early childhood education programs and child care.

Visit FFYF.org

Policy Consultation & Support

Building on lessons learned in Illinois and other states, we work to provide resources, peer learning opportunities and support to early childhood systems and program leaders and advocates across the country. We provide advisory and peer learning opportunities to early childhood advocates, the Educare Learning Network and state and local systems’ leaders in 21 states and Washington, D.C.

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