Skip to main content

Early Childhood Education

By Elizabeth Cryan Photography with permission from Donnell-Kay Foundation at Rocky Mountain Prep school

You are here

Improving young children’s early learning experiences is an essential complement to K-12 reforms. Research shows that early years form the crucial foundation for children’s later learning, but that disadvantaged youngsters have less access to the types of experiences that foster learning and development, resulting in large achievement gaps even before children enter kindergarten. High-quality early childhood programs can help prevent or narrow these gaps, however, allowing children from all backgrounds to enter school prepared to succeed.

Bellwether’s work in early childhood seeks to make publicly funded programs more effective; develop innovative strategies to expand access to high-quality early learning; improve the preparation, training, and compensation of early childhood educators; and scale the work of high-performing early childhood providers. We also work to bridge the divide between K-12 and early childhood policies to help create aligned, birth-to-eight learning systems.

We advise foundations and advocacy organizations working to improve early learning outcomes and produce research, policy analysis, and ideas for the field as a whole. Although our approach is grounded in a deep knowledge of childhood development, how young children learn, and the early childhood provider and policy landscape, we also draw on relevant lessons from our K-12 work.

The content below reflects our work on this issue:


February 9, 2017
U.S. News & World Report - Increased training for early childhood educators isn't enough.  
February 8, 2017
Marnie Kaplan, Sara Mead
In 2007, Congress and then-President George W. Bush set out to improve Head Start by passing a law that made significant changes to the program....
February 7, 2017
The 74 Million -- We shouldn’t always be soskeptical of making broad changes using federal-level action. In fact, we are coming up on the 10-year...
December 26, 2016
U.S. News & World Report -- Be optimistic about the 2016 gains made in early childhood education.
December 15, 2016
U.S. News & World Report -- Head Start is getting better and that's good news for all preschool programs.

Blog Posts

April 27, 2017
Bonnie O'Keefe
In celebration of NAEYC’s “The Week of the Young Child” April 24 – 28, Bellwether looks at programs that improve the lives of young...
April 4, 2017
Marnie Kaplan
Last week, the internet Greek chorus turned its attention to a previously wonky topic: DC’s educational requirements for child care workers...
January 19, 2017
Ashley LiBetti Mitchel
Betsy DeVos is top-of-mind right now, particularly after her tense confirmation hearing on Tuesday night. Front and center in most of these...