Over the past decade, many states have worked to create statewide community-based approaches to building comprehensive early childhood systems.
Each state has focused on developing a model that serves the unique needs of its young child and family population. Yet, there has been a common denominator to this work. Every state is dedicated to promoting the healthy development of and better outcomes for young children from birth through age five and, increasingly, through age eight.
In 2006, the BUILD Initiative launched the Building Connections project, which funded six states to advance the development of state/community early childhood partnerships. In the course of the project, our team created a Theory of Change for this partnership approach.
In 2013, as the field of early childhood systems building matured, we launched a new review of the approaches that states are taking toward this work at the local/regional level. The review focused on key components of work that promote successful implementation of state/local connections, notably elements such as:
- technical assistance
- performance measures
- state and local infrastructure
In 2015, BUILD is launching a new phase of its Building Connections work, developing a toolkit for use by communities in their efforts to develop comprehensive and equitable early childhood systems.
To learn what states and localities were doing in these areas, we interviewed leaders at each level in a dozen states and produced individual profiles on the approach used in each. From this research, we were able to highlight lessons learned and keys to success across the states.
Resources: Profiles of States that Have Created State-Wide Community-Based Approaches to Building Comprehensive Early Childhood Systems
The Nuts and Bolts of Building Early Childhood Systems through State/Local Initiatives
The evidence bears out that greater success can be achieved through a state and community-based approach to early childhood systems building than it can when there is a lack of effective two-way communication, local buy-in, and state supports for local partnerships. Flexible funding to support local collaborative efforts is essential as is a strong state-level infrastructure to support local systems building efforts.
“Flexible” is the watch word for all efforts at the state and local level. This is not an effort that can be created and then implemented in the same way over and over. It must grow and evolve, with state and community leaders learning from both the challenges and successes. And just as communities within a state have much to learn from each other, states have much to share with their counterparts across the nation.
BUILD will continue to create opportunities for state and local leaders to learn together within states and across states from their mutual state/local systems building efforts. This exchange will help each leader and each initiative become stronger and more effective.