Early Childhood Systems Building Resource Guide

Sound state early childhood programs demand close, careful attention to planning. Five key elements to incorporate into state-level program planning follow:

  1. Be inclusive, transparent, and influential. Involve a variety of stakeholders, ensure that the planning process is transparent, and include those who 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.