A New Name for a New Reality: The Ounce is Now Start Early Read More

Next Generation Program Quality

We promote and enhance policies and systems that support high-quality programs, which are culturally and linguistically responsive, grounded in parent voice and result in improved child and family outcomes.

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Instructional Leadership and Organizational Conditions

The research is clear: quality matters when it comes to early learning and care experiences. High-quality early learning services are those that are culturally, linguistically and ability responsive and result in improved child and family outcomes. Start Early believes that federal, state and community standards and funding streams should be leveraged to incentivize professional development for the early childhood workforce, ensure wages and benefits are adequate and equitable, provide specialized coaching for the field, and fund research that will provide new insights into our understanding of quality and how to achieve it.

For early learning and care programs to flourish, federal, state and local systems must create environments that enable providers and professionals to make good use of evidence-based practices that enhance the quality of early childhood interventions, care and education for all children and their families and attend to the well-being of staff. The factors that create these environments — referred to as organizational conditions — have proven necessary to creating and sustaining staff well-being and commitment as well as ongoing improvement that ensures young children and their families reap the promised benefits of high-quality programming.

Our Recommendations
Start Early believes that federal, state and community standards and funding streams should be leveraged to incentivize professional development, ensure wages and benefits are adequate and equitable, provide specialized coaching for the field and fund research that will provide new insights into our understanding of quality and how to achieve it.

Home Visiting and Doula Services

Home visiting and doula services are embedded within a broader early childhood system of care, supporting strong parent-child relationships, sustainable support networks and access to community resources that help children and their families establish healthy foundations and ongoing developmental success. Recognizing that learning begins at birth — and relational health and care begins before birth — our vision for home visiting is to foster seamless and uninterrupted access to high-quality early childhood services and experiences beginning with the prenatal period through early childhood. Start Early seeks to elevate and advance the needs of the home visiting and doula workforce. We also aim to center parent and caregiver voice across policy, practice and research tables to ensure that the service delivery system is accessible and responsive to changes in community and family desires and needs, with an eye towards equity.

Our Recommendations
Through our home visiting policy recommendations, Start Early aims to:

  • Support the early childhood field in developing, promoting and utilizing innovative and responsive home visiting models and practices.
  • Seed, scale and sustain innovations, including supporting and elevating existing community-based innovations.
  • Promote the development of a home visiting workforce that is reflective of the diverse communities home visiting and doula programs serve.

Home-based Child Care

Home-based child care is a critical component of our nation’s child care infrastructure, particularly for infants and toddlers. Home-based child care (HBCC) includes licensed (regulated) family child care (FCC) and family, friend and neighbor (FFN) caregivers who offer small mixed-age group care and education services in nurturing home environments that reflect the culture of the families they serve. Start Early believes that early learning systems must support the unique needs of HBCC providers to ensure an equitable, high quality supply of early learning and to promote family choice.

Our Recommendations
Start Early recommends the following HBCC policies:

  • Invest in staffed HBCC networks that build on the strengths of providers to improve quality, enhance business practices, connect providers and the families they serve to community resources, and support more equitable, comprehensive early learning and care practices.
  • Enhance federal, state and local decision-making structures, funding streams, collaborations, data collection efforts and research to improve access to high-quality early childhood programs and services for children in priority populations. This includes children with disabilities and children experiencing homelessness.

For detailed community, state and federal recommendations, see our full Policy Agenda.

Program Quality

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