Early Childhood Education

Opportunity and achievement gaps emerge long before US children enter kindergarten. Income-based differences in verbal interactions, health and nutrition, and the quality of paid care all affect young children’s development. The Broader Bolder Approach to Education promotes public investment in high-quality birth-to-8 policies that can narrow these gaps and boost low-income children’s achievement.

In conjunction with the Schott Foundation for Public Education's Opportunity to Learn campaign, BBA has developed a state policy guide  to help policymakers Build High Quality Early Support Systems for Children and Families. It offers best practices strategies and examples of state legislation across three areas of early childhood policy -- pre- and post-natal supports; child care and health services, and early education -- as well as suggestions for and case studies about aligning and knitting them together into comprehensive, sustainable systems of support. 

View the BBA/OTL State ECE Policy Guide

Policy Advocacy

Expand access to high-quality pre-k programs

Nearly all states now provide some public funding for pre-k programs, most for at-risk children. Bipartisan support for pre-k at both federal and state levels provides opportunities to enhance these programs.

  • One way to accomplish this is by providing state matching funds to communities on a sliding scale, so that highest-need/lowest-income communities are prioritized, and they receive sufficient support to ensure quality programs. (Many states with high-quality pre-k have matching-funds systems. States with small programs might look to Alabama as a model; larger-program states could look to Virginia.)
  • In states that have lost early elementary populations due to shifts in population ages, another option is to follow Oklahoma’s lead and use empty kindergarten classrooms (and teachers with strong credentials in early childhood/early elementary education) to provide age-appropriate education for 3- and 4-year-olds.
  • States with solid pre-k programs that serve high proportions of 4-year-olds might look toexpand high-quality early education to 3-year-olds and toddlers by devoting a percentage of pre-k funds to younger children (as was done in Illinois).
  • States looking to start new programs or expand pilots might explore Social Investment Bonds as a strategy. These rely initially on social venture capital investors, who get a “return” based on the program’s delivery of reduced social costs (grade retention, special education placement, etc). in participants' early school years. The goal is to use documented benefits to spur state policy investment. Pilot SIBs are being explored and/or underway in Utah and Alexandria, Virginia.


Tie teacher/caregiver quality to pay

As more states pilot and expand their Quality Ratings and Improvement Systems (QRISs), they have an opportunity to build into their programs incentives across the 0-8 range for quality. This also helps to professionalize the early childhood workforce and can bring additional state and community dollars to early childhood programs.


BBA Resources

State Policy Guide

This comprehensive guide provides state and local policymakers and early childhood and education advocates with the information, state strategies and policy examples, and research resources needed to advance strong prenatal-to-five systems of support.

View the guide in PDF format.

Policy Statement

This ten-year blueprint lays out the immediate, medium-term, and longer-term policy changes needed to ensure that all children receive enriching, stimulating early care and education from knowledgeable, consistent, nurturing caregivers.
Read the Policy Statement


This short document brings together the extensive research base that supports the Broader Bolder Approach policy statement.
View the Bibliography

Policy Brief

This two-page brief provides a short advocacy-oriented summary of the key points set forth in the BBA early childhood education policy statement.
View the Policy Brief

PowerPoint Presentation

This slide deck, with accompanying detailed notes, provides early childhood advocates with the tools needed to present all of the key points of the Broader Bolder Approach early childhood education policy statement.
View the Presentation


Webinars and Events

Release and Screening Event

ECE study release and screening event: Inequalities at the Starting Gate, Ready for Kindergarten


Paid Early Childhood Caregivers and Educators

ECE Webinar: Paid Early Childhood Caregivers and Educators
Robert C. Pianta, Dean, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

What constitutes "quality"; the importance of teacher-child relationships; the evidence regarding training, certification, and professional development; and age-appropriate assessment and teacher support tools.

Economic Benefits of Early Childhood Investments, K-12 Impacts

ECE Webinar: Economic Benefits of Early Childhood Investments, K-12 Impacts
Robert G. Lynch, Everett E Nuttle Professor of Economics, Washington College

Understanding and unpacking cost-benefit analyses of early childhood education programs, including their impacts on K-12 schools, and policy implications for K-12 education

Domains of Brain Development and Early Childhood Brain Science

ECE Webinar: Domains of Brain Development and Early Childhood Brain Science 
Part I | Part II
Todd Grindal, Julius B. Richmond Dissertation Fellow at the Harvard Center on the Developing Child

What research demonstrates about the interaction among cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development; how early parent- and teacher-child interactions shape subsequent development across domains; the nuances of early disadvantage, toxic stress, and brain plasticity; and implications for a range of policies

Paid Early Childhood Caregivers and Educators

ECE Webinar: Parenting and Early Childhood Education: Parents as Children’s First and Most Important Teachers
Jane Waldfogel, Compton Foundation Centennial Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development & Education, Professor of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Co-director, National Center for Children and Families, Columbia University

How early parent-child interactions and relationships shape subsequent academic, social, emotional, and behavioral well-being, and the evidence behind and importance of investing in key policies, including paid family leave and nurse-home visits


Other Resources

Share the BBA Principles

Learning begins at birth, education should too. By kindergarten, poor children lag behind their better-off peers by as much as two years. It's time for a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education!
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Ensure access to home visiting supports and prenatal health care. Infants whose mothers receive prenatal support through the Nurse Family Partnership program are more likely to be healthy. It's time for a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education!
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BBA Principles

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Other BBA Policy Areas

Comprehensive Strategies

School Improvement

Broader, BOLDER Approach to Education

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