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Building Equitable Early Childhood Systems

To effectively meet the needs of young children and their families, our work must recognize the relationship between the existing disparities—including opportunity and achievement gaps—racial privilege, and institutional and structural racism.

We Must Recognize Existing Disparities

Systems building work at all levels can be neither “colorblind” nor passive. It must intentionally level the playing field in terms of power so public action, allocation of resources, and oversight are shared responsibilities of representative leadership.

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.

A comprehensive, equitable early childhood system will:

  • Value family members as key informants, decision-makers, and leaders.
  • Reflect and respect the strengths, needs, values, languages, cultures, and communities of children and families.
  • Reach all children and families, as early as possible, with needed high-quality services and supports. Achieving this universal goal requires a focus on groups of children and families, especially those who are marginalized.
  • Include and effectively accommodate children with special needs.
  • Ensure stability and continuity of services along a continuum from the prenatal period into children’s school years.
  • Provide easy access for families and smooth transitions for children.
  • Foster innovation.
  • Maximize investment. The public sector will have to finance and oversee much of the building and continuous improvement of the early childhood system, as it does in the public education system.

Learn about the components of a strong early childhood system.

What is an Early Childhood System?