Giving Compass’ Take:
· Unfortunately, a majority of U.S. early childhood work is based on program-first approaches operating in silos. With references to Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Project Evident addresses the differences between programs and policies and the need for coordinated public policy to connect the singular early childhood programs.
· What early childhood policies are needed? How can policy change the way the U.S. approaches early childhood care?
· Read about the importance of early childhood care and education.
It has been 15 years since the death of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-New York). While at times provocative, Moynihan was a keen observer of the systemic barriers facing poor and underserved communities in the United States and respected across both parties for his policy and diplomatic leadership. Accordingly, his views on social policy can be instructive given the current state of domestic affairs and can also help us rethink whether today’s approaches to early childhood education and care are truly positioning allchildren, regardless of their background, to flourish.
In the early 1970s, Moynihan explicitly warned against the risks associated with emphasizing government programs over government policy (See “Policy vs. program in the ‘70’s”, The Public Interest, Summer 1970). We have, for instance, a federal employment policy; the Employment Act of 1946 established that the federal government would bear principal responsibility for promoting maximum employment. This law goes far beyond the establishment of workforce development, apprenticeships, or vocational rehabilitation programs, and extends across various government agencies, industries, systems, and sectors. The Act also established the Council of Economic Advisors and the Joint Economic Committee to advise the President and Congress on economic policy. These entities and their broad view of the economy allow the President and Congress to act on the goals of the Employment Act in meaningful and proportionate ways.
Unfortunately, the bulk of our country’s current government-sponsored early childhood work is dependent on (and crippled by) a program-first approach to public policy—one that Moynihan spoke so wisely against. U.S. early childhood “policy” is too frequently defined as a set of programs (pre-K, home visiting, child care, etc.) operating in siloes rather than as a coordinated public policy approach connecting singular programs together.
Read the full article about early childhood policy by Joe Waters and Sara Peters at Project Evident.
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