The Bipartisan Policy Center releases Early Learning Facilities Policy Framework
Safe and developmentally appropriate early care and learning programs are an essential component of building healthy and economically sustainable communities in which families and young children thrive. However, the physical environment of early learning programs, an important feature of program quality, is often overlooked.
The Bipartisan Policy Center brought together an interdisciplinary group of stakeholders to dig deeper into the scope of the problem. The newly released “Early Learning Facilities Policy Framework” was the result of that work, as it provides strategies for involving multiple sectors, including business leaders.
“The participation of the business leaders is critical to improving child care and early learning facilities,” said Linda Smith, Director of the Early Childhood Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“The truth is that most early education leaders lack expertise in business management, loan application, and facility design, construction and renovation. They need both the expertise and support of the business community to improve their facilities.”
The framework also identifies the philanthropic sector, faith community and federal, state and local government as playing key roles in addressing the problem when there are no dedicated funding sources to support development of well-designed facilities.
“The buildings and spaces child care programs occupy are an essential component to quality; yet the building, maintenance and expansion of capital infrastructure is a financial hardship for under-resourced programs, and a knowledge gap for professionals rightfully focused on being child development experts,” said Suzann Morris, Deputy Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning.
The policy framework highlights the substantial investments required to simply upgrade existing facilities, citing the National Children’s Facilities Network that estimates that $10 billion would be required to upgrade all early learning facilities to professional-quality standards, and at least $17 billion would be needed to bring existing early learning facilities up to best-practice standards.
Further exacerbating the issue is the limitations of public funding in supporting capital improvements,” Morris added.
“A critical step forward is to further the partnership between state policymakers and business leaders to identify solutions that maximize public and private investments to improve capital and quality.”
To learn more about the framework of a multi-sector approach, you can read the full report: HERE