National League of Cities Launches New Initiative to Align City Services and Supports for Young Children with the Goal of Building an Early Learning Nation

Early Childhood Picture
Early Childhood Picture

WASHINGTON — March 27, 2017 — The National League of Cities (NLC) today announced a new initiative to increase the likelihood that all children will achieve educational success by the end of third grade. This project, “Promoting an Alignment Framework to Build an Early Learning Nation,” builds upon prior work by NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families to align educational policies and programs for young children more effectively. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the initiative is designed to lay the groundwork for a broader campaign that will engage cities across the nation in early learning efforts.

City leaders can improve educational outcomes for our youngest generation by helping to forge strong community connections that link families to a broad range of supports and opportunities,” said National League of Cities (NLC) CEO and Executive Director Clarence E. Anthony. “Research shows that a more seamless strategy — one that addresses the full range of academic, behavioral, health and family needs — can serve young children more effectively.”

By aligning services and supports, improving communication among stakeholders, and fostering greater collaboration, city leaders can prevent duplication of services and increase program quality. Children and their families interact on a daily basis with different systems and supports that often do not pursue a common strategy or successfully coordinate their efforts. A child may be enrolled in Head Start, have a sibling attending a local public elementary school, and have a mother receiving assistance through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and all three of those programs may have different requirements and no exchange of information among them, despite serving the same family.

As part of the new initiative, NLC will refine and enhance its current alignment framework based on lessons learned in its work with cities that are aligning early childhood systems, and will launch a revitalized Early Childhood Network to promote systems alignment among a cohort of up to 15 cities.  The network will provide an environment where cities will have the opportunity to learn from each other through sharing and implementing best practices.

Elected officials understand the need for local governments to work in new ways across sectors in both policymaking and service delivery in order to build a community that fully supports healthy early development and learning. NLC’s alignment framework provides a basis for bringing multi-sector groups together to address community issues, align efforts and policies to achieve shared goals, and build an Early Learning Nation. This project will help ensure that various departments across a city are on the same page when it comes to early childhood policy. NLC will also provide technical assistance on the key elements of the framework to local community teams. These teams will determine the specific issues each city plans to address and the strategies, including policy changes, that will effectively drive local progress. 

This project leverages current investments from other national funders, including the Bezos Family Foundation and the Foundation for Child Development, that support a larger NLC Early Childhood Success portfolio.

For more information on NLC’s Early Childhood Success initiatives, click here.

About the National League of Cities
The National League of Cities is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. The Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, a special entity within the National League of Cities, helps municipal leaders take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities.

About the W. K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

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