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State early childhood systems: Examining integration

This paper explores the topic of subsystem integration as a way of improving the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of services delivered to the early childhood field. We provide a conceptual frame for analysis that explains the relationship of integration to specific governance functions. We then define and discuss the concepts of coordination, alignment, and integration, highlighting the importance of each to system development. There is a focus on the concept of integration as a new and innovative approach to system development in early childhood, and then we present several empirical examples of States that have started creating integrated subsystems within their state early childhood systems. State case studies illustrate that the process of integration is not easy or immediate. Rather it is a process that requires intentionality, foresight, time, and resources. Integration at the state level is often a process of "retrofitting" preexisting subsystems as an effort to alleviate problems of duplication or inefficiencies in the system. Of the seven States that were interviewed for this paper, all cited integration as a ways to achieve program quality. Furthermore, each interviewee corroborated the thesis present in the literature advancing the argument that integration is an important step in system building, one that goes beyond coordination and alignment. The information presented in this paper--both empirical and theoretical--is intended to be helpful to States focusing on system development. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
Georgia; Maryland; Mississippi; Ohio; Oregon; South Carolina; Washington

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