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Educare as a Model for Systems Change

October 19, 2021
Updated November 21, 2023

The early childhood education crisis we are facing today is not new. Indeed, systems leaders, advocates, allies, community partners, funders and more have long been working on solutions to provide high-quality early education to all children.

Even as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has amplified challenges in the field of early learning and care, it is clearer than ever that partnerships – between governments and private philanthropies, communities and care providers, teachers and families –  allow us to work towards closing the opportunity gap for children. Together, we can help our youngest learners take advantage of a positive start in life via access to and participation in high quality early childhood education.

Inside Philanthropy’s Connie Matthiessen recently reported on how Educare, alongside our partners at Start Early and the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, is a model for systems change in this sphere.

The Educare Model

More than 20 years after the opening of its first school in Chicago, the Educare Learning Network – 25 independent non-profit birth-to-five schools across the country – is supported largely by public-private partnerships: federal Early Head Start/Head Start funding, state dollars and additional philanthropic resources.

Together, these partnerships help support a comprehensive approach to early childhood education through the Educare model. Key elements of the Educare model include intensive family engagement, embedded professional development, high-quality teaching practices and data utilization.

Jessie Rasmussen of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund calls Educare “an initiative by private and public funders to do two big things: change the life trajectories for the children who come into our care, and change the way America approaches and funds high-quality early care and education. By doing what science tells us we need to do in terms of providing quality, we are narrowing and even closing the achievement gap. By working with peers across the country, we’re showing what it takes to deliver such high quality, including a well-prepared, well-compensated workforce, a reliance on data-driven practice, and care that partners with families and nurtures the healthy growth and development of every child.”

For more on how the Educare Learning Network is working to ensure all young children, families and communities can thrive, learn about the Educare Five.

The Educare Learning Network of 25 independent, non-profit birth-to-five schools, located across 15 states, in the District of Columbia and on the tribal land of the Winnebago Indian Reservation, reaches nearly 4,000 infant, toddler and preschool children and their families each year. Start Early, formerly the Ounce of Prevention Fund, provides backbone support for the Network, helping to guide strategy, amplify innovation, share best practices, advance policy and support school-level implementation of Educare’s core features. Start Early and the Educare Learning Network are improving access to high-quality early education across our country.