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Approaches to Coordinating Services for Young Children and Families

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodSep 20 2023

Across sectors, there are many effective services that promote healthy development in early childhood and support families’ well-being. These include high-quality CCEE and supports for other family health, educational, and financial needs. It can be challenging for families to benefit from all of these services because they all function separately, typically in different locations and with differing eligibility, enrollment, and service provision requirements. This can prevent families from accessing services, or can make service navigation more cumbersome both for families (e.g., duplicative paperwork, travel to multiple agencies) and staff (e.g., lack of information about families’ other services). Such roadblocks can exacerbate disparities because they affect marginalized families the most.

States and local communities have worked to address these barriers by combining services and funding streams, often across organizations, to fulfill multiple family needs simultaneously through a centralized process. Such strategies may improve families’ access to services, which in turn may improve child developmental outcomes and parental well-being, particularly for families with lower incomes. These strategies may also result in cost savings by reducing redundancy and inefficiency across agencies. However, coordinating services is challenging; often the partners have different goals, activities, and funding requirements that create barriers to coordination.

This brief is part of the Child Care and Early Education Policy and Research Analysis (CCEEPRA) project. CCEEPRA supports policy and program planning and decision-making with rigorous, research-based information.