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Early Childhood Initiative

The Alliance’s Early Childhood Initiative is deeply embedding the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework throughout all systems that touch the lives of young children and their families.

The Resources for Action series is now available for download.

This rich series of resources shares concrete examples across the socio-ecological levels of ways in which the Protective Factors framework is springing to life across the nation. You will find research, tools, trainings, videos and much more that will help to equip you as you do this work.

More than half the states in the US are working with the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds’ (Alliance) Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) Learning Community to shape practice and policies in early care and education by promoting the framework. Beginning in mid-2005, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation funded the Alliance to help stimulate the growing intersection of the early childhood field and the family support field by funding children’s trust and prevention funds (CTFs) to engage actively in the work of implementing the Strengthening Families approach. To accomplish this goal, in 2006, the Alliance created a Learning Community of 18 states and awarded two-year grants to the CTFs in nine of these states. The Early Childhood Initiative began with CTFs as the primary conveners of Strengthening Families work in their states. During the past few years, the number of states has expanded and their partnerships have been enhanced to include a wide range of state leaders in multiple state agencies (child welfare, mental health, domestic violence, early care and education) as well as policymakers and parent leaders.

The first three years of the Early Childhood Initiative concluded in May 2008 and the hard work of the ECI Learning Community states laid a strong foundation for sustaining the gains that have been made and expanding into new areas. The Learning Community and the Alliance have developed a Theory of Change that will serve as a road map for the work during the next three years. Key strategies have been identified for impacting systems, communities and families through the Strengthening Families approach. A primary goal is to utilize the work in which ECI states are engaged to produce concrete examples of what it means for the SF/PF framework to be meaningfully embedded into states’ work with systems, communities and families.

A grant from the A.L. Mailman Foundation has enabled the work to begin on one of the key systems strategies identified during the Theory of Change process: embedding the Strengthening Families Protective Factor framework into states’ Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) for early care and education programs. The Strengthening Families Through QRIS project will lead to a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of how states can embed the SF/PF framework into their QRIS. Idaho, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have been identified as QRIS Peer States. Their work in building and revising their states’ QRIS will serve as an intensive laboratory for identifying meaningful ways that the SF/PF framework can support true quality in early care and education settings.

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