Our Approach

Using our experience and expertise from decades of grassroots advocacy in Illinois, Start Early works at local, state and federal levels with advocates, government systems, program leaders and other partners in the field.

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Start Early’s policy and advocacy efforts are grounded in our decades of work with children, families, the workforce and systems leaders, as well as our work to advance equity. Through systems building; legislative, administrative and grassroots advocacy; and consultation and thought leadership, we aim to:

  • Improve early childhood experiences for all young children through programs and policies that support early learning and care, maternal and child health and family engagement.
  • Sustain and increase public investments for quality, comprehensive early childhood education.
  • Support policies and service delivery systems that increase access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education and positively impact young children’s learning, health and family outcomes.

Our Policy Agenda

Our approach to policy and advocacy is outlined in our Policy Agenda. As our vision for policy and systems change nationwide, the Agenda outlines opportunities at the federal, state and community levels that will help create early childhood systems that promote quality and effectively meet the needs of children, families and providers.

As our road map for the next three years (2021-2023), this agenda articulates our commitments, our views on critical early learning and care issues, and the policy levers we aim to pull across three areas: next generation program quality; building connected, comprehensive and equitable systems; and elevating family voice and the role of families.

The Start Early Policy Agenda is our foundation as we work broadly across child and family-serving systems to influence policy and drive investments that help us advocate for change. We do this work with a recognition that – because of the root causes of structural and institutional racism — many of the practitioners, children and families whom we serve experience inequitable access and outcomes in early learning and care. Alongside our partners, we aim to advance policies that center equity and amplify the strengths, innovations, needs and desires of the children, families, and partners who participate and contribute to our unique early childhood systems. We view the process of setting forward an equity-centered policy agenda as a learning journey and aim to interrogate our biases, weak spots and be accountable to addressing and repairing our mistakes along the way. We aim to work with intentionality and accountability to drive system improvements and policy change for children and families historically and currently impacted by racism.

Our State-Based Policy Work

Our state-based policy and advocacy teams in Illinois and Washington use our Policy Agenda as a foundation to respond to the unique opportunities and policy levers in their state. See how our Policy Agenda translates into on-the-ground work in individual states that drives quality, equity and access in early learning and care. 

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Our Approach

Resources & News

Read the latest updates as we work to implement our vision for policy and systems change nationwide.