As the details of the $3.5 trillion budget plan get ironed out, all signs point to the inclusion of ambitious provisions that aim to improve our current child care system. The leading legislation is the Child Care for Working Families Act (CCWFA), which should help families with low to moderate incomes access stable, high-quality child care and preschool programs. Defining “high quality” across different ages of children and settings is challenging, but the bill makes good first steps toward establishing a system of investing in high-quality care.

Here are three ways states, localities, districts, and preschool programs can make targeted investments in the quality of care.

  • Promote evidence-based curricula. Most publicly funded preschool programs rely on curricula to structure classroom activities that support children’s academic and social-emotional development. But not all curricula are equally effective.
  • Provide robust, ongoing professional development for staff. Training is the main vehicle for helping teachers learn a curriculum and hone instructional practices.
  • Develop a strong data infrastructure for continuous quality improvement. Districts can develop flexible data systems to capture information about the use of evidence-based curricula and professional development over time. Tools can be developed to assess teachers’ training progress, participation in coaching, and use of curricula.

Read the full article about high-quality preschool by Michelle Maier and Shira Kolnik Mattera at MDRC.