With more than 60 percent of all children from birth to age 5 spending time in the care of someone other than their parents, publicly supported early childhood programs must provide safe, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate experiences that foster healthy growth and learning. This report by the NGA Center offers six policy strategies governors can use to build and nurture a comprehensive, high-quality early childhood system including:

  • Coordinate early childhood governance through a state early childhood advisory council (ECAC);
  • Build an integrated professional development system;
  • Implement a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS);
  • Develop a longitudinal and coordinated early childhood data system;
  • Align comprehensive early learning guidelines and standards for children from birth to age 8 with K–3 content standards; and
  • Integrate federal, state and private funding sources.

The report also includes information about how the policy map for early childhood care and education is significantly different from other public systems. Unlike the structured and contained K–12 system, early childhood care and education programs and services encompass diverse program types, service environments, professional staff and care providers.