An early learning community is place where local leaders, residents and other stakeholders are committed to the goal of all young children reaching their full potential, not just some. It is a neighborhood, city or county that is working to ensure that children and families have access to the opportunities, aligned services and supports they need to make this goal a reality. It is a place that supports neighborhoods where children can grow up safe and healthy and where families can thrive. Finally, it is a place where local policies create a broader framework of support for families with young children.
The vision of a community where all children learn and thrive is an exciting one. Translating it into reality is equally exciting – and a challenge that requires vision, commitment and hard work by many people working together. This newly released white paper from the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP)
is the first in a series of guidance documents that aim to help local leaders move their communities toward this goal. The paper starts by describing the core results that early learning communities strive to achieve. It then talks about four essential “building blocks,” or community conditions that promote healthy child development and family well-being. Finally, the paper describes how leaders in an early learning community “put the pieces together” so that the opportunities and supports needed by children and families are consistently available, of high quality and accountable for producing the results for which they were intended.