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State Boards Engage in Cross-System Collaboration to Support the Early Childhood Workforce

Alexandria, Va. – Often touted as key to reducing overlap and inefficiency and increasing policy alignment, collaboration across agencies and organizations with varying jurisdictions and authority can be difficult. A new NASBE policy update explores how NASBE, the National League of Cities (NLC), and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) built up the nation’s early childhood education (ECE) workforce through an effective collaboration.

Representing NASBE, NLC, and NAEYC, authors Winona Hao, Courtney Argenti, Alana Eichner, and Lauren Hogan discuss their 2016 partnership to help cohorts of leaders advance the ECE workforce through parallel strands of state and local work. NASBE’s ECE Network spanned four states; NLC developed its Cities Supporting the Early Childhood Workforce initiative in five states; and NAEYC provided in-depth support to five “deep-dive” states with its Power to the Profession initiative.

In Michigan, the department of education and local stakeholders in Grand Rapids came together to learn about each other’s efforts to build up the ECE workforce. NASBE, NLC, and Michigan AEYC—an affiliate of NAEYC—facilitated connections and helped stakeholders better understand others’ work through shared resources and widened lines of communication.

The New York Board of Regents, a state board in the NASBE network, established the Early Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee. This committee includes national, state, and local stakeholders such as the New York AEYC and members of the Early Childhood Advisory Council. It advises the board’s Early Childhood Workgroup on state budget investments, education policy, and legislative initiatives. NLC helped ensure that leaders outside New York City also had a voice at the table.

Informed by their own collaborations, the authors share recommendations for state, local, and nonprofit ECE leaders:

  • Don’t skip the step of establishing a clear vision and shared goals.
  • Make sure the right stakeholders are in the right rooms at the right times.
  • Recognize strengths, define roles, align responsibilities, and adapt to context.
  • Build in time for increasing awareness, and match the format to goals.
  • Leverage national organizations and peer learning to make connections, share resources, and provide technical assistance.

“Building authentic, lasting partnerships is hard and takes time,” write the authors. “Nonetheless, we owe it to children, families, educators, advocates, and state and local policymakers to connect and coordinate, with the goal of recognizing and respecting each other’s expertise and influence.”

Read and share the NASBE policy update “Collaborating to Support the Early Childhood Workforce.”

NASBE is the only national organization giving voice and adding value to the nation’s state boards of education. A nonprofit organization founded in 1958, NASBE works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and ensure continued citizen support for public education. Learn more at

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