State Partners

The Alliance works with states across the country to advance state policies in health, family support and learning. Alliance support includes: funding, technical assistance from national experts, and convenings to promote partnerships and the exchange of good ideas. 


Arizona has a task force dedicated to implementation of the new CCDBG reauthorization requirements. In addition to the work to implement the required components, the task force will examine how Arizona can align receipt of public dollars to meet higher minimum quality standards in child care. Currently, the quality floor in Arizona is licensing standards (basic health and safety), and this project seeks to raise that quality floor to be in alignment with the state QRIS and other recognized quality standards (such as Head Start and national accreditation models).  Children's Action Alliance, a statewide children's advocacy organization, receives funding to provide administrative and staffing support to the project.

Kelley Murphy (lead)
Children’s Action Alliance
Ginger Ward
Southwest Human Development

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The California Expanding Early Learning Policy Partnership (CA Partnerships) is a unique, inside- outside collaborative of the Advancement Project (AP), the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network (the R&R), Children Now (CN), Early Edge California (EEC, formerly Preschool California), First 5 California (providing in-kind support), and the Western Office of ZERO TO THREE (ZTT). This partnership of allies represents a long-term collaborative effort that aims to close the opportunity gap and prevent the school readiness and achievement gaps for California’s students.  FY 15 policy priorities coming soon.

Kim Pattillo Brownson, Director of Educational Equity (lead)
Advancement Project
Phone: (213) 989-1300

Linda Asato, Executive Director
California Child Care Resource and Referral
Phone: (415) 882-0234

Deb Kong, President
Early Edge California
Phone: (501) 271-0075 ext 314

Tahra Goraya, Director, Western Office
ZERO TO THREE Western Office
Phone: (213) 481-7279

Giannina Perez, Associate Executive Director
Children Now
Phone: (501) 763-2444

Camille Maben
First 5 CA
Phone: (916) 263-1083

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Clayton Early Learning, the Colorado Children’s Campaign, and Executives Partnering to Invest in Children collaborate to advance state-level early childhood policy, with Clayton taking the lead on early care and learning expertise, the Campaign taking the lead on policy development and advocacy with the legislature, and EPIC providing business leader engagement and support. Using the Birth Through Eight State Policy Framework as a guide, the Colorado partners are focused on building a comprehensive early childhood system in Colorado, which is responsive to the current political climate and the needs of the early childhood community. They will focus on building their state capacity to expand pre-k via stakeholder engagement and development of a strategic plan, pursing strategies and investments to increase family supports and the capacity of informal caregivers, promoting a healthy start for all kids with particular focus on mental and behavioral health, and completing the implementation of legislative reforms to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program. 

Lauren Heintz  (lead)
Clayton Early Learning
Gloria Higgins
Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC)
Bill Jaeger
Colorado Children’s Campaign

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Our Florida partners will focus on two policy areas:

  1. Raising the quality of child care by embedding standards in the statue, and tying reimbursement rates to quality; and
  2. Building public awareness about the importance of the infant and toddler (0-3) years by launching a FIRST 1000 DAYS campaign, a Help Me Grow program, and advocating for increase funding for early intervention (Part C).
They have specifically requested technical assistance from CLASP and Build on child care policy, and from the Council for a Strong American on raising public awareness about the infant-toddler years. 
Jessica Scher, Director, Public Policy

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The Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) is a statewide advocacy organization that works closely with state agencies, including the Department of Public Health and Department of Early Learning, to implement policy change, advocate for early learning in the GA General Assembly, and engage civic leaders.   GEEARS’ advocacy priorities in 2015-16 are to make high quality early education programs in Georgia more accessible and affordable, as well as to build out a birth to 3 policy platform. GEEARS will receive technical assistance from Louise Stoney (financing strategies), CSA and CED (mobilizing unlikely messengers), ZTT and Build (0-3 policy agenda) and CLASP (CCDBG implementation). 

Mindy Binderman
GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students

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The Illinois partners established the following three goals, with public and private sector input.

  1. Establish a clear action plan for Illinois’ early childhood systems building efforts, and determine the roles of the ELC, the state Inter-Agency Team and state agencies, and the Office of Early Childhood Development in moving the plan forward.
  2. Continue implementation and coordination of major federal initiatives and state strategic action plans within the context of Illinois’ broad early childhood vision, including the Pre-school expansion grant, the MIECHV grant, the RTT-ELC grant, the EHS-CC partnerships, and the state’s Community Systems strategic plan, mental health strategic plan, and ELC approved health recommendations.
  3. Better understand and address prioritization of the most vulnerable children and families to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of high quality early learning programs and supports throughout the state that can be effectively accessed. This includes the development of the child care state plan related to the new CCDBG law.

The Illinois partners will receive technical assistance from Karen Ponder on the governance and system integration priorities, and CLASP on the implementation of CCDBG.

Gail Nourse
Ounce of Prevention Fund

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Kansas Action for Children will focus on improving access to high quality early childhood programs and services. Staff will work on strengthening child care rules and regulations, modifying TANF policies and procedures, and preserving public investments in early childhood programs. Strategies will include building consensus through opportunities presented by the reauthorization of the CCDBG; conducting a child care workforce study to inform the public dialogue about the availability and affordability of child care in Kansas; identifying opportunities to mitigate the impact of the HOPE Act on children and families; and mobilizing constituents in support of quality early education in Kansas.

Annie McKay
Kansas Action for Children

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The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children seeks to be a source of non-partisan, independent information on issues concerning children, ages birth through four. The Institute will provide policy proposals and advocacy to support state policies that advance access to high quality early care and education (ECE) for vulnerable children. Staff will focus on engaging business leaders across the state and educating newly elected state leaders to address four key areas of ECE policy: 1) increasing funding per child for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP); 2) changing CCAP policies to promote quality early learning; 3) identifying and addressing gaps in the implementation of the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Act (Act 3) that are preventing vulnerable children from accessing high- quality ECE; and 4) informing Louisiana’s state plan for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

Melanie Bronfin
Louisiana Policy Institute for Children

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The Maine Children's Alliance will build on the groundwork laid early in 2015 to lead and grow a broad coalition of diverse stakeholders to advance policies and new investments to promote the social emotional development of children from birth through age eight. This work is focused on reducing expulsions in early care and education settings, providing support and professional development, connecting children and families to mental health professionals or special education resources if necessary, and supporting parents to develop nurturing relationships with their children. MCA will use education and advocacy to take advantage of new federal requirements under CCDBG to improve Maine’s child care policies to enhance access to high-quality early childhood services.

Rita Furlow
Maine Children's Alliance

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Strategies for Children (SFC) is working to ensure that Massachusetts invests the resources needed to ensure all children, from birth to age five, can access high-quality early education programs that help prepare them for success in school and life. This year they will use research and communications to make the case for early learning as a critical component of the broader college/career educational continuum; quantify existing early education resources at the local level; and define and disseminate best practices. They will continue to foster leadership among state-level policymakers and at the local community level. SFC will host events, publish briefs, blogs, and conduct editorial outreach and social media as they advocate for:

  • Pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds: by continuing to co-chair the campaign for 3- and 4-year-old pre-k starting with high need communities.
  • Increased funding through the Coalition efforts with Building on What Works coalition that would create a new fund, which communities could use for early education among other things.
  • Early literacy by participating on the Early Literacy Expert Panel which is co-chaired by Dr. Nonie Lesaux and Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and serving as a leader in the Campaign for Grade Level Reading.
  • Implementation of standards, assessment, workforce policies, and comprehensive services as a partner in an interagency working group.
  • Continue to education federal policymakers on the need for expanded funding for early learning.
Amy O'Leary
Strategies for Children, Inc

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High quality child care and home visiting are now viewed by key leaders in Michigan as important to early literacy and third-grade reading proficiency. In this context, the Center for Michigan will convene early childhood advocates to discuss the best 0-3 policy options. They will educate policy makers about the need for wise expansion of high quality 0-3 programs and the importance of infant-toddler investment to help assure third-grade reading proficiency. Expected deliverables include a return-on-investment document for child care, and the endorsement of business leaders in wise new investment because of it's demonstrable value. The goal is to continue to build awareness on the value of wise 0-3 investments and to secure new resources for key evidence-based initiatives.

John Bebow, President
The Center for Michigan
Peter Pratt
Public Sector Consultants

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In the coming year, First Five Nebraska will work to:

1. Expand access to high-quality child care for at-risk infants and toddlers.
2. Change the perception of the child care subsidy program to a child development program.
3. Refine the Quality Rating and Improvement System, Step Up to Quality, by incorporating the results of initial evaluation data.

The Nebraska partners will accomplish this work with technical assistance supports from several Alliance partners. CLASP will provide support to maximize the opportunities provided by the reauthorization of CCDBG.   Build and Louise Stoney will help on the continuous quality improvement of the QRIS. The Council for a Strong America will customize its reports and tools to focus on the importance of expanding access to quality services for infants and toddlers.

Becky Veak
First Five Nebraska

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New Jersey

Advocates for Children of New Jersey (ACNJ) works to improve policies and programs for children from infancy to age 8 and their families by educating, informing and engaging leaders and the public on children’s needs. After ACNJ releases their policy brief on chronic absenteeism later this summer, they will conduct direct outreach to key districts to improve district policies and practices. ACNJ will advocate for more effective teacher and administrator licensing and certification policies and practices, that better reflect the developmental and educational needs of young children by engaging our education partners, including NJ Assoc. of School Administrators, presenting recommendations to the NJ DOE and the NJ Principals and Supervisors Assoc. Third, ACNJ will engage business leaders in advocacy for preschool expansion and will educate legislators and legislative committee leadership. ACNJ will identify three NJ business leaders to join in advocating for preschool expansion in targeted districts. Lastly, ACNJ will continue to provide leadership for the State Advocates for Early Learning led by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. 

Cecilia Zalkind, Executive Director
Advocates for Children of New Jersey

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New Mexico

The New Mexico Early Childhood Partnership works with New Mexico Voices, and the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children to:

  1. Increase the State General Fund appropriations in support of early childhood care and education, home visiting, and state pre-k;
  2. Increase knowledge about the true cost of providing quality early childhood programs and services;
  3. Explore alternative financing strategies; and
  4. Develop recommendation for an early childhood governance structure in New Mexico.

New Mexico partners will receive technical support from Alliance partners such as Karen Ponder (governance) and Louise Stoney (financing strategies).

Katherine Freeman (lead)
New Mexico Early Childhood Partnership

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New York

The Center for Children’s Initiatives (CCI) mission is to assure every child in New York starts life with a foundation of health, care and learning to succeed in life. They will use Alliance funding to elevate early learning as a priority for policymakers and the public, from the prenatal period through third grade and to align their work in NY with the federal agenda. Funding will support the preparation of materials including policy analysis, research and advocacy. It will allow CCI to continue to keep state and local partners, coalitions and networks aware of the federal agenda and strategic opportunities for action to advance investment, sound policy and innovative approaches that integrate and improve early learning. That includes preparing materials and convening calls on the federal budget, as well as taking strategic advantage of emerging policy debates, including the ESEA, child health and home visiting. At the state level, CCI will continue to lead pre-k efforts with the Winning Beginning NY coalition and the Ready for Kindergarten campaign and work with the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teacher's to build momentum for making pre-K a right for all three and four year olds in New York.

Betty Holcomb
New York Center for Children's Initiatives

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Oklahoma partners will be working on a variety of activities and policy priorities.  These include:

Identify a mechanism to include family voices in policy and program changes.
Implement standardized Pre-Kindergarten literacy assessment;
Recommend policy changes to child care subsidy regulations to increase access and promote program collaboration;

Debra Andersen, Executive Director
Smart Start Oklahoma

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As the leading birth to 8 advocacy organization in Oregon, the Children’s Institute plays a catalytic role building bridges across sectors and silos in early childhood, K-12 and the health system. They have been leaders in advocating for greater public and private resources to support transformation of Oregon’s prenatal to third grade services. This grant will support a multi-pronged early learning, health and family engagement agenda at the site, regional and state levels. The goals include expanding the number communities statewide working to effectively integrate early childhood programs with the primary grades, increasing the number of children birth to five that are served in high-quality early learning programs; developing a health policy agenda and develop policies and standards to promote meaningful family engagement to increase school readiness and improve academic outcomes.

The workplan includes: Implementation of the 2015 mixed delivery pre-k legislation through administrative advocacy, rollout support with the RFP, and sharing lessons learned from early adopters. 
Improving preschool quality through development, alignment, and adoption of standards
Development of a health agenda drawing from community health assessment, navigator efforts, and a developmental screening pilot fostering family engagement through QRIS rules, the mixed delivery preschool RFP, kindergarten transitions policy, and implementation of specific intervention and neighborhood strategies at their demonstration sites.

Swati Adarkar
Children’s Institute

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Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) is a statewide, independent, non-partisan voice to improve the health, education and well-being of the Commonwealth's children. They will continue to advance public policies across health, learning and family support. These include: improving Pennsylvania’s developmental screening rate using validated tools; expanding the availability of evidence-based home visiting strategies; assuring the availability of high-quality child care for low-income families; and, expanding the number of children enrolled in high-quality pre- kindergarten. PPC will accomplish each of these goals by employing four core advocacy strategies: research and analysis, strategic communications, mobilization and government relations.

Joan Benso
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children

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The Children’s Alliance is a multi-issue advocacy organization with 125 organizational members working to ensure that laws, policies and programs work for kids.  Children’s Alliance achieved a significant victory in 2015, securing new funding and policy to accelerate quality improvement and expand access with the passage of the historic Early Start Act. The Children’s Alliance will focus on administrative advocacy related to implementation of the Early Start Act and other policy and funding changes from the 2015 legislative session. This will include analysis of policy adjustments needed in the 2016 legislative session. The Children’s Alliance will also conduct federal advocacy to focus on growing congressional awareness and support for early learning.

Jennifer Jennings-Shaffer
Children’s Alliance
206.324.0340 x21 

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The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families leads a coalition of partners focusing
on key issues that include:
  • Increase high-quality early care and education: Advocate for progress in the YoungStar quality rating system; track trends and develop recommendations for improvement and financing, leading to positive changes in policies and practices
  • Expand infant/toddler services: Sharpen the focus on infants/toddlers, promoting broad-based priorities for action and gaining policymakers’ support
  • Improve child health: Promote child health policies that increase access to Medicaid coverage for children and families, and advocate successfully for changes in child care licensing rules to reduce child obesity
  • Address racial disparities: Build on new community energy to establish a strategy to address racial disparities across Wisconsin
David Edie
Wisconsin Council on Children and Families
608.284.0580 x315 

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