Creating an Integrated Efficient Early Care and Education System to Support Children and Families: A State-by-State Analysis

Recognizing the critical importance of children’s earliest years in terms of brain development and later life outcomes, the federal government invests billions of dollars each year in programs designed to provide early care and education (ECE) to children under the age of five. Most federal funds flow through programs managed by federal agencies—principally the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—to the states, which have wide discretion regarding how the funds are administered and coordinated to provide ECE services. Additionally, many states fund Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) and preschool programs using their own state resources.