New Report Funded by Foundation for Child Development Focuses On Restructuring the Financing of Early Care and Education
High-quality early care and education (ECE) is critical to positive child development and has the potential to generate economic returns, but the current financing structure of ECE leaves many children without access to high-quality services and does little to strengthen the ECE workforce, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Transforming the accessibility, affordability, and quality of ECE provided outside the child's home will require phased implementation, amounting to at least an estimated $140 billion annually from the public and private (philanthropy, employers, and families) sectors in the final phase of implementation. The report says an ideal financing structure should support high standards; a highly qualified workforce; and equitable access for families from all socio-economic, racial, ethnic, ability, and geographic backgrounds.
The committee that carried out the study and wrote the report estimated potential contributions from families and the public sector over phases, recognizing that increases in ECE funding will need to occur over time. By the final phase of implementation, the estimated total annual cost of providing high-quality early care and education for all children is at least $140 billion. If families contribute to the costs based on an affordable family payment schedule, the increase in public funding would grow from the current level of about $5 billion a year to $53 billion a year in the final phase. This would mean that public costs would increase to $82 billion and private costs would be $58 billion annually in the final phase.
'While high-quality early care and education for children from birth to kindergarten entry is critical to child development and has the potential to generate significant economic returns in the long run, it has been financed in such a way that makes early education available only to a fraction of the families needing and desiring care, and does little to further develop the early care and education workforce,' said LaRue Allen, Raymond and Rosalee Weiss Professor of Applied Psychology and chair of the committee.
The report focuses on early care and education that is paid, non-parental care provided outside the home for children before they enter kindergarten. Services may be offered on a full-day or part-day basis, and vary by type: some are publicly funded, some are private, market-based centers, and many other ECE settings rely on a mix of public and private funding...