Design and Implementation

High-quality early childhood programs demand close, careful attention to planning. Five key elements to incorporate into state-level program planning are as follows:

  1. Be inclusive, transparent, and influential. Involve a variety of stakeholders, ensure that the planning process is transparent, and include those who will be served by the program or project as well as can influence state policies.
  2. Be driven by current research and a theory of change. Base your planning on current research and have a framework that guides decisions toward a clear endpoint.
  3. Account for the realities of each state’s policy and political context. Take realistic stock of each state’s current policies and policy instruments; understand stakeholders’ opinions and public and political support.
  4. Aim for a set of actionable priorities. Establish both short- and long-term priorities; identify quick wins as they build momentum.
  5. Include an afterlife. Commit to regular review and revision.[1]

[1] Kagan, S. L., Tarrant, K., & Kauerz, K. (2012). Planning an early childhood system: Policies and principles matter. In Early Childhood Systems: Transforming Early Learning, edited by Kagan, S. L., & Kauerz, K. (pp.137–54). New York: Teachers College Press.