Child Care and Early Education Equity: A State Action Agenda

Child Care and Early Education Equity: A State Action Agenda outlines the important role state policymakers can play to ensure equity in their states’ early education efforts.  High-quality child care and early education is critical for child development and family economic security—and it can have a particularly positive impact on the wellbeing of families with low incomes. CLASP’s action agenda describes key state early education programs, significant challenges such as racial disparities and underinvestment, and recommendations for how state leaders can meaningfully improve policies and programs.

Historical and institutionalized racism, which has created systemic and structural barriers to equitable access to opportunity, causes pronounced socioeconomic disparities for a large share of America’s children. Young children of color are more likely than their white counterparts to live in families with low incomes, and a quarter of all children under the age of six have at least one immigrant parent. States must design their child care and early education programs to meet the diverse linguistic and cultural needs of their communities. To achieve a more equitable system,  state leaders must pay attention to the racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity—along with the inequities in opportunities and outcomes—of  young children and the early childhood workforce that serves them.

State leaders have many options and opportunities to significantly improve their child care and early education programs. They should consult a range of experts—including those with lived experience—offer professional development for providers, and expand services to underserved populations. Above all, states should meaningfully invest in child care and early education, which is an investment in the present and future wellbeing of their states.