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What is an Early Childhood System?

The BUILD Initiative believes helping every child reach their full potential requires our acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of all elements.

An early childhood system contains:

  • Interdependent policies, programs, services, and infrastructure.
  • All child- and family-serving systems—such as early learning, health, housing, economic development, and transportation.
  • Connections of each of these elements to each other.

Every member of our team must recognize that the child- and family-serving systems that are not generally considered to be under the umbrella of the early childhood system—like housing, economic development, and transportation—are less often viewed as opportunities for or barriers to child and family well-being. Each of these systems, and how they interact with one another, impacts a child’s outcome.

It is up to early childhood systems builders to identify the barriers to positive outcomes that result from an issue with any of the elements within the overall system. This is one of the early childhood systems builders’ greatest challenges, as these barriers are deeply interwoven with our country’s history and ongoing practice of racial discrimination and disinvestment.

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