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The Importance of Continuity of Care

Policies and practices in early childhood systems and programs

Continuity of care — strategies designed to lengthen children’s ability to continuously participate in high-quality early learning experiences — must be a cornerstone or guiding principle for state or local early childhood policy agendas focused on improving outcomes for less-advantaged children and families. This paper provides a research summary, considerations for program and policy design, best practices, case studies and talking points that advocates can use to help policymakers and early childhood practitioners implement continuity-of-care policies and practices.

Key Findings

Whether required by regulation, defined by voluntary association standards, or inspired by concepts of best practice, programs can promote the continuity of care through structural design and professional development. This includes:

  • Using group size and ratio
  • Creating flexibility in classroom age ranges
  • Promoting teacher retention
  • Minimizing changes in teacher assignments
  • Attention to how teacher scheduling might impact relationships with children and families

State policy levers that influence the capacity of a program to provide continuity of care include:

  • Child care subsidy eligibility status
  • Provider payment rates and payment mechanisms
  • Licensing regulations on group size and ages
  • Professional development network focus and investments

Policy Team & Collaborators

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