With existing investment from the American Rescue Plan and proposed investments in the American Families Plan, the early childhood education (ECE) system is experiencing its largest expansion since the 1960s. At the same time, the Biden administration’s executive order to pursue racial equity in federal policies and programs is placing unprecedented expectations on early childhood policymakers to confront longstanding racial inequities. In order to ensure equitable expansion and reach of the ECE system, policymakers need practical frameworks and tools that place racial equity at the heart of their policy design, implementation, and evaluation work.
Neighborhood-informed early childhood approaches are one such policy tool. By focusing on the resources within a child’s neighborhood, and not just on a child’s family resources, policymakers can acquire a richer and more nuanced sense of the opportunities available to that child—and the gaps they face. And because children across the U.S. live in highly racially segregated neighborhoods, neighborhood inequities are racial inequities. Our new report reviews the research on the value of neighborhood-informed early childhood policies, offers in-depth discussion of how neighborhood-informed approaches can advance racial equity, and a provides a policy review of existing levers for neighborhood-informed approaches within federal ECE policies and programs.