Early Childhood Development Interagency Coordination

Knowing what we know about the critical nature of the first five years of a child’s development and its relation to future success, the Administration for Children and Families has expanded services and has taken an integrated approach to a comprehensive birth-to-5 policy agenda. An important step in this work has been the establishment of a new office responsible for the coordination of early childhood policy at the federal level.

The ACF Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development provides coordination across the Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care, as well as working with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to administer and coordinate the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

This office also serves as the liaison to a range of other federal agencies, particularly with the US Department of Education (ED) and with other offices within the US Department of Health and Human Services. The most recent and intensive partnership has been the HHS/ED co-administration of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant competition.

Given the importance of state and local activities to early childhood development, we work closely with state partners, particularly the State Advisory Councils, State Child Care Administrators and State Pre-k Directors, as well as with communities promoting a systems approach to early learning and development.

Finally, we continue to reach out to a wide range of national organizations and philanthropic partners to assure that we are learning and sharing together. It is our hope this site will provide you with a basic outline of our activities, highlight some of our recent developments, and link you to other key agencies.

Your work on behalf of young children and families can make a big difference in assuring that all children are healthy, happy and successful!

I. The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary coordinates the Program Offices of Head Start and Child Care, and works with HRSA to coordinate the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and the Department of Education in the administration of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge.

II. Early Childhood Education

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development works to improve the quality of and enhance coordination among existing early childhood education and development programs and strengthen linkages between early childhood programs and the primary grades.

III. Early Childhood Health

The ACF Early Childhood Health Team coordinates and integrates health initiatives across early childhood programs at ACF.

Effective disease prevention, along with promotion of healthy development and wellness, are best achieved with well-coordinated efforts starting early in the life course. The health system alone is insufficient to meet these goals. Disease prevention and health promotion, as well as linkages to health services, can be delivered anywhere children and families spend time: in the home, in communities, and in a range of early care and education settings serving children prenatally through age 8. Returns on investment for these coordination efforts are unparalleled; by addressing health and development early in children’s lives, it is possible to reduce or even eliminate the need for more expensive corrective measures in later years.

V. State and Local Partnerships

  • State Advisory Councils

ACF awarded $100 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for 50 State Advisory Council grants to 45 states, DC, PR, VI, Guam and American Samoa.

The overall responsibility of the State Advisory Council is to lead the development or enhancement of a high-quality, comprehensive system of early childhood development and care that ensures statewide coordination and collaboration among the wide range of early childhood programs and services in the state, including child care, Head Start, IDEA preschool and infants and families programs, and pre-kindergarten programs and services.

  • Early Learning Communities

The Early Learning Communities Initiative is a place-based framework that encourages comprehensive and continuous early childhood services for pregnant women and children from birth to age 8. The overall goal of the Early Learning Communities framework is to provide a visible and coordinated community-wide commitment to young children birth through third grade.

Communities are encouraged to develop a coordinated system that includes the following key elements:

  • A governance structure
  • A system of data collection
  • A quality assurance system
  • A school system

Final Report on the Early Learning Communities Initiative (pdf - 1.25mb)

IV. Other Federal Partnerships

  • Military Family Federal Interagency Collaboration

The Office of Head Start and the Office of Child Care have joined forces with the Department of Defense as part of a Military Family Federal Interagency Collaboration focused on increasing availability and quality of child care for military families.

Child Care Availability and Quality, Federal Interagency Efforts (pdf - 52kb)

  • Assets/Financial Stability for Families with Young Children (FSFYC) is an initiative that stresses the importance of family financial stability in the development of young children. Through this initiative, ACF explores new opportunities for ensuring that those involved in early care and education services – providers and families with children – have access to financial education, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and other asset building strategies. The initiative also seeks to develop knowledge about and increase understanding of asset building policies and strategies as they relate to families with children. Asset building strategies include:
  • Financial education
  • Consumer counseling, credit and debt counseling
  • Access to mainstream banks and credit unions
  • Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)
  • Earned Income Credit and other credits
  • Other federal benefits