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New Report Ranks States on Efficient Use of Federal Early Childhood Funds

Washington, D.C.– A new report, released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center, finds Maryland and the District of Columbia lead the nation in efficient administration of federal funds for early care and education (ECE) programs. BPC reviewed, scored, and ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their management of ECE funding. Analysis for all states is now available.

An inefficient ECE system creates confusion for families. When parents have to apply to multiple programs, housed across multiple agencies, often with duplicative paperwork requirements and inconsistent eligibility criteria, many give up time with family or struggle to manage work responsibilities. And others simply give up.

To determine the rankings, BPC rated states on a number of factors, including the number of agencies managing ECE programs, requirements for the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System, and the establishment of a state advisory council, as mandated by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. States also lost points if they did not spend all their federal child care funds.

Joining Maryland and Washington, D.C., in the top ten are Arkansas, Georgia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Louisiana, Montana, and Washington. The lowest-ranked states were Hawaii, New York, Arizona, Nevada, Mississippi, Missouri, Idaho, South Dakota, Kansas, Wyoming, and Texas.

“States can increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness by improving coordination and alignment of programs and services,” said Linda Smith, director of BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative. “With the recent midterm elections, we hope that new governors will examine early care and education funding and programs to ensure best use of public resources and to improve access and support for families.”

Governors are responsible for allocating federal dollars to agencies that support programs for young children. As the report details, what happens to the funds within each state varies greatly and is almost entirely a decision made within the states. States with the highest rankings tend to show efficiency and cost-effectiveness by managing programs serving children under fewer agencies. Conversely, most states near the bottom of the rankings split funding streams and programs across multiple agencies, frequently leading to confusion for families seeking services.

Read the full report

View the state-by-state rankings and details on each state