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Recent research and advocacy efforts have led funders, politicians, and the business community to agree that the first years of a child’s life can determine the rest of their development. Across ideological divides, there is consensus that investing early makes sense—it helps children prepare for successful futures and creates a high return on investment of public dollars.

We have created this short guide, featuring examples and how-to’s based on our work with more than a dozen foundations working to make progress in the early care and education space. The guide highlights 7 principles to help funders understand and anticipate the challenges and opportunities of supporting early care and education, including practical advice on how to:

  • Inclusively identify and constructively connect the many actors that provide quality care and education to children and their families.
  • Navigate challenges that arise from a sector filled with different approaches and business models.
  • Balance long-term strategies and outcome measures with short-term wins and progress markers.
A systems approach to early care and education may seem daunting, but if we want to achieve results at scale, it is a necessity. It is also possible.