Amid an unprecedented expansion of early care and education (ECE) programming, many ECE systems and program leaders must piece together multiple funding sources to meet the total cost of delivering high-quality programming. Bringing together, or braiding, these various funding streams requires coordination across different levels of the ECE system and has critical implications for program quality, workforce strength, and equity in access and outcomes for young children and their families. Of particular interest is how Head Start participates in or uses approaches that braid federal funding alongside state and local sources to provide high-quality, comprehensive services.
The Financing for ECE Quality and Access for All (F4EQ) project seeks to better understand the landscape of Head Start’s participation in or use of braided funding by identifying the most common braiding approaches, examining how these approaches can equitably advance the provision of high-quality, comprehensive ECE services, and documenting how participation in braiding funding relates to Head Start’s engagement with other ECE programs and systems efforts. Specifically, the project will include a descriptive study of financing in ECE programs that include Head Start funding with an emphasis on understanding Head Start’s role in state and local systems that will address three primary research questions.