What do we mean by an early childhood system?
Think of an orchestra with musicians, instruments and their respective sections. Each musician may play beautiful music but it won’t sound like a symphony unless they work together to blend all the sounds harmoniously.
By developing local plans, the communities are writing scores and practicing partnerships that will help them to make music together. Efforts are also underway to help the state envision an early childhood system that really works. Just as an orchestra needs a conductor to make music, each community and the state need a coordinating body to ensure that everyone is playing from the same score and making wonderful music for children.
Early childhood systems across the country include such elements as a rating system to help parents find high quality care and education programs, uniform teaching credentials to ensure that teachers have the training they need to nurture young children, and state governance and financing structures that ensure access for all children. Connecticut has worked diligently on many of these elements, and shows some progress in working towards a coherent, effective early childhood system.
Over the last 15 years, Discovery communities have demonstrated that in order for all children to have access to high quality programs, we need:
- Local early childhood councils that have the authority to allocate resources,
- Parent leadership on the council and in programs that serve children,
- Networks of people who analyze, reflect, organize, and act on behalf of children,
- Local leadership in both municipal government and the school system that is fully engaged in early childhood care and education,
- A statewide council or structure that supports the work of local early childhood councils,
- Results-based state and community plans to guide decisions about how resources are used,
- Effective communication and coordination among state and local efforts, and
- Ways to measure both local and statewide progress.