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Our Approach

BUILD envisions a time when all children reach their full potential and race, place, and income are no longer predictors of outcomes.

Developing Early Childhood Systems

Our initiative works with community, state, and national partners to develop early childhood systems that are equitable and excellent for all marginalized children, their families, and communities.

To help children reach their full potential, early childhood leaders must focus on the adults in children’s lives—their parents, grandparents, and the adults who provide services to young children, including early learning and health care providers. They must also understand and tackle the disparities that exist before birth, including differential access to and quality of maternal health care.

Our Approach To Systems Building

BUILD partners with state early childhood leaders to catalyze change and implement a whole-child/whole-systems vision.

Our approach to systems building is both responsive and forward-looking. Our team helps state leaders strike a balance between advancing toward a long-term vision and simultaneously addressing immediate needs and concerns. BUILD highlights the potential of a high-quality, comprehensive, and equitable early childhood system that is responsive to child and family needs. Then, the BUILD Initiative helps state leaders identify the next best steps given their current environment and needs, as well as supports them in taking those steps.

Through our tailored technical assistance, facilitation, and consultation, BUILD helps state teams maximize opportunities and dismantle barriers to the optimal development of young children by:

  • Building strong cross-sector partnerships that involve many family- and child-serving agencies in planning, implementing, and measuring shared goals for improving the quality, access, and effectiveness of early childhood policies, programs, and services.
  • Engaging families and communities in the work in an authentic way that recognizes that those who are the intended users of the policies, programs, and services are the best sources of information on needs and the best judges of effectiveness. By listening to the voices of intended beneficiaries, BUILD and our partners can learn about the reality of those using the system and use that understanding to fuel reform efforts and measure effectiveness.
  • Learning from community leaders who have created solutions to pressing problems.
  • Using data as a powerful tool to advance equity, identify and address racial disparities, and ensure that our work reaches and benefits all young children and their families—especially those who are marginalized.
  • Cultivating and supporting leadership skills in those who are currently in positions of authority and identifying and nurturing the potential leaders who will take this work into the future.
  • Creating an environment of continuous quality improvement that recognizes that systems building is a process, not an end in itself. There is a continual need to improve access, enhance effectiveness, address unintended consequences, and increase equity.
  • Thinking about and improving the core strategies that are vital to the effectiveness of a system, which includes a strong cross-sector governance structure, effective financing that leverages and maximizes public and private investment, and a structure that facilitates strong connections between state and community systems building.

Another hallmark of our work is the strong belief in the benefits of peer communication and learning. Through meetings, webinars, learning tables, and written tools and resources, BUILD creates opportunities for state leaders to meet and share their experiences and perspectives.

Our learning community now extends to all 50 states—bringing together early childhood leaders in a robust peer-to-peer network to share their expertise, research, and lessons learned.

How do we build equitable early childhood systems? All actions need to be assessed to ensure the impact is equitable for children and families of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds and for families of diverse socio-economic status.

Building Equitable Early Childhood Systems

What is an Early Childhood System?

Early childhood systems break down barriers by connecting all interdependent family- and child-serving policies, programs, services, and infrastructure.

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