We work best when we work together. But, one of the bigger challenges in early learning is bringing together all the diverse programs and funding streams that support the earliest years in a coordinated system.
This problem is often referred to as silos — early education programs operating in isolation instead of working within an aligned approach. In an era of divided government and tighter public resources, preschools, child care providers and home visiting programs can’t afford to deal with silos. Instead, they need to do the most with what funding is there.
The good news is that state and local policymakers are breaking down these silos, a new report found.
The report from the American Progress Institute showcases efforts around the country to integrate, align and coordinate services that support children from birth through age 5. Washington state is featured for two efforts: its statewide birth-to-3 plan and its Home Visiting Services Account.
(The Birth to 3 Plan) aims to connect programs that serve children both across ages and within age groups. Specifically, the plan provides the following: universal developmental screening services that are linked across four state agencies; a portfolio of evidence-based home visiting services; services to connect families with primary medical care providers; support for family, friend, and neighbor child care providers; increased child care choice, access, and continuity by increasing capacity through child care subsidies; and the creation of a statewide structure to coordinate the birth to age 3 programs and services.
— “Emerging State and Community Strategies to Improve Infant and Toddler Services.”(See the report for footnotes.)
Washington’s Home Visiting Services Account, which has already gained national recognition, uses combinations of private, state and federal funds to provide more home visiting services to families living in some of Washington state’s most vulnerable communities. It was also created to be integrated within Washington’s birth-to-3 plan, according to the report.
With a deeply divided federal government, states and local communities continue to lead the way towards more seamless and effective early learning systems. Check out the report for more examples of how silos that are slowing early learning’s progress are falling around the country.