Early Childhood Systems Building Resource Guide

Layering or blending and braiding multiple funding streams is a process for using multiple funding streams to support a common activity, initiative, or project. 

  • Blending refers to wrapping funds from two or more funding sources together to fund a specific part of a program or initiative. In blending, costs are not necessarily allocated and tracked by individual funding sources. 
  • When funds are braided, two or more funding sources are coordinated to support the total cost of a service. Revenues are allocated and expenditures tracked by different categories of funding sources. In braiding, cost-allocation methods are required to ensure that there is no duplicate funding of service costs and that each funding source is charged its fair share across the partners.[1]

At the state level, blending and braiding are financing strategies that federal, state, and local policymakers and program administrators can use to integrate and align discrete categorical funding streams to broaden the impact and reach of services provided.[2] Some early childhood examples include the following:

  • Oregon passed legislation (HB 3380) to create a diverse-delivery state prekindergarten program and allow multiple types of providers to seek multiple funding streams. The legislation explicitly addresses the goal of using multiple funding streams.[3]
  • New York City reorganized its system of contracted child care through EarlyLearn NYC. This program braided funding from child care, Head Start, and state universal prekindergarten to improve access and continuity for low-income children and their families. EarlyLearn NYC has implemented higher program-quality standards and redistributed contracts across the city to increase the supply of care in targeted high-need neighborhoods.[4]
  • Colorado blends revenues across departments. A data system exists for state and local leaders in Colorado who want to develop comprehensive programs for children and families. The online data tool includes federal and state funding streams and eligibility criteria and identifies the goal area of service delivery. Users can search the database, export Excel files, and produce reports to support efforts to blend and braid federal, state, and local resources to sustain programs.[5]

[1] Wallen, M., & Hubbard, A. (2013). Blending and braiding early childhood program funding streams toolkit: Enhancing financing for high-quality early learning programs (version 2). Chicago: The Ounce of Prevention Fund. Retrieved from http://www.buildinitiative.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/resource-center/community-systems-development/3E%202%20Blended-Funding-Toolkit.pdf.

[2] Colvard, J., & Schmit, S. (2012). Expanding access to Early Head Start: State initiatives for infants & toddlers at risk. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Social Policy and Zero to Three. Retrieved from http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/files/ehsinitiatives.pdf.

[3] Oregon State Legislature. (2015). HB 3380 A, Overview [Web page]. Retrieved from https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2015R1/Measures/Overview/HB3380.

[4] New York City Administration for Children’s Services. (n.d.). ACS child care options [Web page]. Retrieved from http://www1.nyc.gov/site/acs/early-care/acs-child-care-options.page#early.

[5] Flynn, M., & Hayes, C. D. (2003). Blending and braiding funds to support early care and education initiatives. New York: The Finance Strategy.