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Equity starts early: Addressing racial inequities in child care and early education policy

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This brief takes a deep dive into racial equity in child care and early education, along with the historic and current systemic underpinnings that shape policies and programs. It looks most closely at the major funding streams for child care and early education: - The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the major federal funding stream for child care assistance to low-income families. It also funds efforts to improve the quality of child care for all children. Funds flow to states, which use them to help families afford child care and to invest in early childhood infrastructure and quality. States set the majority of programmatic policies under broad federal parameters. - Head Start is the premiere federal program offering high-quality early childhood education to preschool-aged children in poverty (and fewer infants and toddlers through the Early Head Start program) and their families. In addition to early education, children and families in all Head Start programs have access to a range of services, such as parenting resources; social services; and health screenings, referrals, and follow-up support. Its program design and quality standards offer model practices for supporting racially, culturally, and linguistically diverse communities and families as well as a diverse workforce. Federal Head Start funds go directly to local Head Start providers that include local public or private nonprofit organizations; nonprofit or for-profit community-based organizations; and school districts. - State pre-kindergarten programs are investments of state dollars to provide early education experiences to 4-year-olds as well as 3-year-olds in some cases. The design of pre-kindergarten programs varies by state and community. They may operate in public or private schools, private child care centers, or Head Start programs. This report will analyze the history, policy, and practice of child care and early education programs and explain how they impact children, families, and workers of color. We will also provide recommendations for making early childhood programs more racially equitable. (author abstract)
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