Increasingly, discoveries in neuroscience show that a child’s earliest years are crucial to their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development, and that the settings in which they learn, play, and grow have an enormous impact on their future development. High-quality and developmentally appropriate environments promote healthy behaviors, independence, and social-emotional skills in young children. Yet, too often, the conversation about child care quality focuses on workforce and curriculum, and rarely does it include the physical environment in which children are cared for.
Nearly 15 million children under age 6 live in households in which all parents work, leaving these children in need of high-quality child care. The physical infrastructure of these spaces has been long neglected, and parents are forced to place their children in substandard settings. It is critical to recognize that high-quality environments lead to better outcomes for young children and that the nation’s children cannot wait for greater investments in early learning infrastructure that supports their development.
To support city- and local-level officials in addressing their child care facility-related challenges, this catalog provides examples of federal-, state-, and local-level models across government, philanthropy, and public-private partnerships.