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. Physical environment, however, is one important feature of program quality that is often overlooked. The physical indoor and outdoor spaces where young children learn, play, and grow contribute to their cognitive development and social, emotional, and physical well-being. To achieve the goal of providing every child with access to developmentally appropriate care, the United States must ensure that the policies and systems governing and funding early care and learning have a robust facilities component. The following framework articulates major principles that are critical to the development of policies, strategies, and standards for early learning facility investments.
Throughout this document BPC uses the term “early learning facilities” to refer to all types of out-of-home settings used for child care and early education. This includes child care centers, family child care homes, Head Start facilities, and part-day preschools.
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