Fifty years ago, the United States came incredibly close to creating a national system of early care and education, when the Comprehensive Child Development Act passed both the Senate and House with overwhelming margins, only to be vetoed by President Nixon. Fifty years later, this promise to America’s young children and families remains unfulfilled, and we find ourselves yet again tantalizingly close to—and yet infuriatingly far from— delivering a need that must be addressed now.
Unfortunately, children’s lives have not paused to wait for congressional activity—least of all in a still-untamed pandemic. They deserve urgency. So, as the country waits to see if current efforts to build a universal early care and education system in the United States finally succeed, there are several actions the executive branch can take to advance equity in early learning systems now and improve the conditions in which children are learning tomorrow, and importantly, to prepare a stronger foundation for the possibility of a much improved, universally accessible system in the future.
Building on our two previously published Start with Equity agendas, Start With Equity, from the Early Yearsto the Early Grades: Data, Research, and an ActionableChild Equity Policy Agenda and Start With Equity: 14 Priorities to Dismantle Systemic Racism in Early Care andEducation, this brief outlines key “now actions.”