Emerging Solutions for America’s Broken Early Education System – EdSurge

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In 2023, EdSurge sought out bright spots emerging in the early care and education space. In addition to our continued coverage of the challenges of this fragile, fractured system, we wanted to find and tell stories of resilience, innovation, burgeoning solutions and promising programs.

Over the course of the past year, we published numerous stories examining some of the efforts underway across the United States to improve learning, development and care for young children and their caregivers. We’ve gathered them below so you can find them all in one place.

We are proud of the conversations these stories have started and the momentum they have helped to build among communities looking for a better path forward. These stories offer analysis and insight as well as a glimpse into the experiences of real families and educators whose lives and livelihoods stand to suffer or benefit.

In 2024, we plan to continue elevating the programs, projects, people and policies aimed at creating a stronger, more sustainable early childhood system in this country.

Do you know of one? Whether it’s a small-town success, an ambitious national endeavor, a policy proposal, or some other approach that’s gaining steam, we would love to learn about what you’re seeing, hearing and doing.

Please fill out this form with your suggestions. No idea is too small.

We hope you’ll spend some time reading through last year’s stories and follow along as we continue to report on this critical field.


Thriving Providers Project Header Image

What happens if you give child care providers predictable, unconditional cash? That’s the question driving the Thriving Providers Project, a pilot launched in Colorado and expanding to cities across the U.S. The initiative hinges on the idea that guaranteed income will improve caregivers’ economic stability and, in turn, allow them and the families they serve to thrive. We take a close look at how it works and how it’s going so far.


Employer Sponsored Child Care

Since the pandemic began, employers have become increasingly involved in child care, offering benefits such as on-site programs and monthly subsidies to help recruit and retain employees. Even the federal government has endorsed the approach. Yet as they become more commonplace, workplace child care benefits have also become more contentious. Here’s a look at the upsides, drawbacks and nuances of the debate. This story was co-published with USA Today.


Interview with Gov. Jared Polis

In recent years, in a concerted effort to become the best state in the country to raise a child, Colorado has made major investments in early childhood education. The state has seen progress, but how? And can other states replicate that success? In an interview with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, EdSurge had a chance to ask these questions.


Home-Based Child Care Solutions

The housing environment can feel hostile to those wishing to care for and educate young children in their homes, as EdSurge reported in a four-part series last summer. But some bright spots are emerging. From the establishment of “child care-friendly landlords” to the construction of low-cost homes specifically designated for home-based child care providers, these projects offer a salve to providers struggling to find and afford adequate housing. This story was co-published with The 19th.


Home-Based Child Care State Legislation

Last summer, EdSurge chronicled the housing challenges home-based child care providers face, which threaten their livelihoods and reduce the child care supply in America. In the fourth installment in our housing series, we highlight the handful of states — spanning all political persuasions — that have recently passed laws to remove some of the housing obstacles for in-home providers.


American Falls

In 2017, kindergarten readiness rates in American Falls, a one-stoplight farming community in conservative Idaho, were “rock bottom.” Then a school leader launched a campaign encouraging families to “read, talk, play” with children every single day. That simple mantra became a movement, and today, American Falls has embraced a goal of universal preschool. We visited the town last fall to find out exactly how this transformation unfolded. This story was published in collaboration with The Associated Press.


Local Efforts in Idaho

In conservative Idaho, an experiment is five years underway to see if a bottom-up, locally led approach to early care and education could be the solution that finally sticks. Every day, thousands of families across the state are benefiting. Could the success in Idaho serve as a roadmap in other parts of the country that have failed to publicly fund early childhood?


Michigan Tri-Share Model

At a time when child care challenges are on the minds of parents, employers and policymakers, and in a landscape where silver bullets and simple answers are elusive, Michigan’s “Tri-Share” child care model has emerged as a program with great promise, according to many involved in its development and growth. We look at how the cost-sharing program is being implemented — and whether it can work at scale. This story was co-published with USA Today.

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