Early Learning Community Action Guide

Center for the Study of Social Policy, National League of Cities
May 21, 2018
This guide is designed to help city, county, and other local leaders build early learning communities and achieve better outcomes for young children and their families.
young children and toddlers in different settings

Elected officials, business and civic leaders, parents, and residents from all walks of life are working to create true early learning communities – places that promote learning and development prenatally through the early years of elementary school – to help make sure that the “building blocks” for early and lifelong success are in place. The four building blocks that make up an early learning community are: (1) community leadership, commitment, and public will to make early childhood a priority; (2) quality services that work for all young children and their families; (3) neighborhoods where families can thrive; and (4) policies that support and are responsive to families. With this action guide, the authors provide further guidance for city, county, and other local leaders looking for ways to put their commitment to early childhood into action and achieve better outcomes for young children and their families.

Each building block is divided into targets that describe the ideal conditions a community would see when that building block is in place in a community. Within each target are three levels that describe how close a community is to reaching the target: Level 1 describes the starting point; Level 2 describes a next step and shows that a community is taking initiative; and Level 3 indicates a community has made a deep commitment and is fully integrating their efforts across the early childhood system and other sectors. Actions described alongside the levels are examples of steps a community might take to meet each level – communities may choose particular actions depending on their social, political, financial, and historical context. Wherever a community is in the process of becoming an early learning community, elements of the action guide may be useful.

Key Elements of the Action Guide

  • “Building Your Early Learning Community” infographic
  • Detailed description of the building blocks, targets, and action steps
  • At-a-glance overview
  • Progress rating tool
  • Action planning template
  • Glossary of terms
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