Key Issues

Early Childhood Integrated Financing Toolkit

Key Issues for Communities to Consider


When developing a community-wide plan for school readiness, you will need to consider where you are, where you want to be, and the people who will be involved. Community engagement activities exist on a continuum from transactional to transitional to translational.14 Through collective impact, organizations work together strategically to solve a complex problem. In order to shepherd deep translational community engagement, there are key issues to consider regarding: relationships, data, and the early childhood landscape of your community.


Your stakeholders may include:
Business leaders
Community action agencies
Community leaders
Community services boards
Early childhood care and education providers
Head Start
Health departments
Local government
Military services
Organizations that serve English language learners, and/or low-income, homeless, or immigrant/refugee families
Parents and families
Private funders
Professional associations
Social and human services agencies
Early childhood special education
Consider all of the stakeholders who are interested in child development, family health and well-being, school readiness, and economic success.


Relationships are at the heart of this work—and that means not just organizational relationships but also individual ones. As people move into and out of positions and organizations, their knowledge and commitment can move with them. To prevent this, you should consider formalizing partnerships through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or similar mechanism.
Strong partnerships include shared goals, consistent engagement, and steadfast leadership. While many successful collaborations can and do happen at the staff-to-staff level, high-level support for this work is essential to ensure a long-range community vision.
You may need to coordinate disparate entities for whom collaboration is new. Drawing on existing relationships and establishing trust is essential for successful partnerships.


Relationships with Families
Remember to include provider and family stakeholders as well, so that they are involved in this work from the beginning. It’s not just about sharing information—it’s also about listening to and understanding what families and services providers really need. By authentically engaging with families, collaborators can understand how systems are working and what additional resources would be most valuable.
Understanding what your community needs means a careful consideration of the available data. Knowing where your community stands on various indicators of school readiness and human well-being will help you set goals and create strategies.
It is important to use data that are disaggregated by socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity of children to help identify trends and provide opportunities to correct inequities.
You may likely have, or be able to gain, access to other sources of local data about child outcomes (such as PALS PreK and PALS K data). In working to connect data from the early childhood setting to the public schools, you may need to expend considerable effort shepherding data-sharing agreements.
In addition, you may need to develop strategies to gather data that are not readily accessible. You may want to partner with a data or research consultant to design strategies to obtain data you would like to have, such as fiscal mapping.
Deeply analyzing available data and gathering information about the lived experiences of your community members will allow you to bring your data to life and use it to tell meaningful stories.


Some available resources regarding fiscal mapping include:
Examples of Community Fiscal Maps
Tutorial on Implementing a Fiscal Map
Virginia’s Children’s Budget Inventory
To explore these resources, visit:
Program Landscape
As a leader in your community it is important to understand the landscape of early childhood programs and services in order to help coordinate programs and funding.
Obtaining a census or conducting a scan of the way your landscape of programs, agencies, services, etc. looks in terms of geography, auspice, quality level, capacity, ages served, hours available, and more will be essential in this work.


Fiscal Mapping
Having a granular sense of how and where (and for which children) funding for early childhood education services are distributed in your community will help you better discern where gaps are, for which children, and where additional investment may be warranted.


and Context