Start Early was founded in 1982 as the Ounce of Prevention Fund, a nonprofit public-private partnership. Since the beginning, we have delivered best-in-class doula, home visiting and Early Head Start and Head Start programs and advocated for thoughtful policies and adequate funding at the local, state, and federal levels. From our roots directly serving families and children on Chicago’s South Side and rural Illinois, we have expanded nationwide impacting early childhood programs and policies with partnerships in 25 states. Our role as on-the-ground practitioners continues to be the bedrock of our expertise and source of innovation and leadership in the field.
Our story is focused on the idea that starting early and nurturing the attachments between children and adults are essential to a child’s present and future well-being. Decades of research have proven that quality early childhood programs are a smart investment. Our founder, businessman and philanthropist Irving B. Harris, understood that the best hope for leveling the playing field and allowing children to thrive is to invest in the earliest days and create intensive, long-term support for a developing child and their family.
The global coronavirus pandemic has dramatically exposed the lasting impact of historical and institutional racism. It has illuminated the root cause of why many communities are still under-resourced today. We know quality early childhood experiences are the solution to overcoming many of these inequities. And, every child deserves to have sustained, equitable access to the quality early learning and care that is critical to a child’s long-term success.
In the coming years, we will maintain our substantial presence in Illinois, focused on home visiting and doula services, early learning programs and the research and policy efforts needed to validate and scale our impact. We will also continue to expand our reach across the country, working with other early childhood leaders, providing professional development opportunities and consulting with partners and advocates to stand up for all families and young children. We believe that we are stronger when we collaborate — across sectors, disciplines and communities.
At Start Early, we are uncompromising in our shared pursuit to ensure that every child in America can reach their full potential in school and life. We are champions for early learning, and together, we transform lives.