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Leading by Listening: Key Takeaways from the Build it Back Better Dialogues

Start Early held a series of meaningful conversations with families, early childhood professionals and state and community leaders in spring 2020. Insights gained from these discussions, dubbed the Build it Back Better Dialogues, illuminate a path toward more equitable early childhood outcomes.

Executive Summary

In spring 2020, Start Early engaged more than 150 participants from 12 states and the District of Columbia in the Build it Back Better Dialogues*. The dialogues afforded space for Start Early to hear directly from parents, systems leaders and early childhood practitioners. Actively listening to stakeholders’ concerns provided critical insight into the challenges facing early childhood professionals and the families they serve. By sparking courageous and often difficult conversations, Start Early gained a deeper understanding of the disparities that perpetuate the opportunity gap among our youngest learners.

This report outlines key findings from the Build it Back Better Dialogues, including actionable information to help lead long-term, systemic changes through research- and evidence-based policies. Listening to the lived experiences of families and early childhood professionals generated critical questions that can be used to guide further discussions about the future of early childhood education and care in a post-pandemic world. Paying attention to the voices of people on all sides of early childhood systems will allow the creation of more equitable, responsive policies moving forward.

*The Build it Back Better Dialogues are not associated with the Build Back Better Framework.