2017-02-26 National Governors Association

Early Childhood Education

Feb 26, 2017

4.1 Preamble

Early childhood education is critical for early workforce development and strong state economies. For governors, early childhood education and child care has been more than just a smart strategy for school readiness. It has been a significant investment of resources and political capital to increase economic growth in states and ensure the prosperity of all Americans.

States have championed successful early care and education programs that support parents as they build a foundation for learning that will propel students into the high-demand careers of the future. Recently, the federal government has recognized this work and supported the power of states to advance high-quality learning opportunities for students and their families.

Governors believe that states and the federal government can partner to redesign the federal early care and education landscape. States welcome federal collaboration that respects, supports and spurs state-led early childhood innovation.

4.2 Principles

4.2.1 Leadership and Engagement

  • Governors should have the lead role in any state-federal early education partnership as they are uniquely positioned to advance early childhood initiatives by engaging state education and human services agencies, state advisory councils, stakeholders, local education agencies and the philanthropic community to create a continuum of high-quality early learning services.
  • Federal programs should recognize that successful early childhood education strengthens the parental and family role in child development.
  • All states and territories must be included as eligible recipients for federal early education programs.

State Innovation

  • Federal early childhood education policy should build up states as purveyors of equity for the nation’s youngest learners.
  • Federal early childhood programs should allow governors to create, build on and expand existing state programs providing high-quality early learning.
  • Federal policy should recognize that a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce is built on the foundation of early childhood education and should allow states to align federal early education resources to the needs of their state economies.
  • Federal early childhood legislation should give governors significant flexibility to address the needs of each state by allowing state-designed and state-determined early learning standards, assessments, staff qualifications and accountability systems, while providing support and technical assistance for states to build a high-quality early education infrastructure.
  • Federal accountability, performance measures and targets should be based on state-designed measures of success, such as Quality Rating and Improvement Systems.
  • The federal government should support states as they pursue innovations and enhancements to the preparation, professional development and compensation of the early childhood workforce.
  • The federal government should assist states as they securely link early childhood, K–12, postsecondary and workforce data to determine how education systems can be adapted to help children successfully transition from early childhood to the classroom and into a successful life.

State-Federal Partnership

  • Collaboration could be strengthened through a comprehensive review and redesign of federal early education programs to focus on state and local efforts that expand access to and quality of early learning.
  • Federal policy should prioritize funding for statewide programs that provide high- quality outcomes and evidence-based school readiness for disadvantaged students.
  • States should have flexibility to reserve federal early care and education funding to build state capacity to scale and support a high-quality early childhood system.
  • Federal early education programs should recognize the significant investments states have made in early education and allow current state funding for high-quality early education to count toward the state portion of any early education matching grant program.
  • The federal government should limit the use of maintenance of effort provisions on states, only scaling up their operational level if federal investment significantly increases.
  • Federal early education programs should provide governors with broad funding flexibility that encourages the efficient use of public resources in the delivery of early education services that best meet the needs of children and working families either through public schools or through licensed, private providers including for-profit, nonprofit, philanthropic, parochial and other high quality programs.

Alignment and Coordination

  • Federal early care and education programs must become more interconnected and aligned to ensure an educational continuum for young learners from birth through age 8.
  • States must be able to utilize federal resources to create a user-friendly early care and education system that directs parents and families to collective state and federal programs to create choice, transparency and a seamless early learning experience for families.
  • Federal policy should champion coordination and collaboration across Child Care Development Block Grants, Home Visiting, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part C, Preschool Development Grants, the Every Student Succeeds Act, 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • Congress should work with governors to provide flexibility for states to utilize the TANF Child Care Transfer for high-quality early childhood education programs.

Time limited (effective Winter Meeting 2017 – Winter Meeting 2019).
Adopted Winter Meeting 2017.

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